Macky Cilliers

Macky Cilliers

I was born and grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to South Africa in 1981. Quite a big chunk of my primary schooling was done by correspondence and School on the Air as we lived in “bush” so I had very few art or needlework lessons as a young child.

My mother sewed, knitted and crocheted but never taught me. Most of my High School years were spent in boarding school and because I was in the academic stream I was unable to study either art or needlework. From a very young age, however, loved creating with my hands – I knitted my first polo necked jersey by the age of 12 and then started my first crochet project(a granny square throw) ….. both skills taught by our cooks young wife who could notspeak a word of English! She had been taught by the nuns at a local mission station. I in turn made clothes by hand for her new born baby so we were both happy. 

I graduated in 1970 with a Teaching Diploma with majors in Art and Needlework. 

Permission had to be applied for and granted by theMinister of Education to be able to study both my majors as they had not been school subjects and deemed to be too “labour intensive “ to be done simultaneously. 

I started quilting in Zimbabwe as a self-taught quilter in 1977 after buying a “Sunset How To” book at the Hyperama in Amazimtoti during a holiday to South Africa. I had never even heard about patchwork but there and thenmy passion for quilting started. Just me, my hands and my sewing machine ..... no rotary cutter, rulers, board, ¼” foot and batting (they spoke of wadding in the book so I used blankets) All cut with my dressmaking scissors and using templates or drawing with a ruler and a pencil.



1990 One of my “Stars for Africa” entries sold. Owned by an American couple living in Florida. Anecdote – Their daughter was the youngwoman riding on the killer whale at the waterpark in Miami.

1994 United Nation Friendship Quilt. My block was selected by the Dias committee to represent our guild. 

1995 Made the National Festival Banner on which the small host guild blocks are displayed (Designed & quilted by Marilyn Pretorius). 

1996 “Brick” in the 1996 Peace Quilt. 

1998 I made a proposal to our National Festival committee to introduce a challenge category and suggested the theme “Black & White & Shades of any One Colour”. They gave me the go ahead to co-ordinate that firstchallenge and the rest is history! 

1999 Commissioned wedding quilts –one summer weightand one winter weight for an American couple 

2006 International Quilt Day organised a quilt exhibition and gave a talk at the Heritage Museum in Adelaide. 

2006 General Motors commissioned two 2m X 2m large wall quilts for their plant in Struandale and their factory in Kempston Road, PE. 

2009 My 10 days at the Festival Of Quilts in Birmingham. 

2010 I was invited to speak at the opening of the Botswana Guild. Unfortunately I had to decline because I had been booked to give a workshop. 

2010 I was presented with my MASTER QUILTER BADGE. 

2010 SOLO QUILT EXHIBITION during Bedford Garden Festival. 

2019 My piece was selected for the SAQG BIRTHDAY COLLECTION. 

2020 to 2022 SAQG Teachers Forum Hands Up Collection – 3 pieces and also made 3 of the six books 

2011 & 2012 Nominated for the Pro Dedicate Award, by the Dias committee, which is awarded to a deserving quilter by The South African Quilters Guild (the national umbrella guild) at the National Quilt Festival. 

28 Oct 2021 to 24 Nov 2021 OUT OF THE BLUE exhibition GFI Gallery, Port Elizabeth. I am particularly proud of the TAPE installation, suggested and coordinated by me in which panels were created with inspiration guidelines and connected visually by a thin blue line through eachfibre artist’s piece.

During this period gave a lecture on my books (altered and made) at the GFI Gallery 

5 Nov 2021 to July 2022. My piece GENE POOL was accepted for the TRANSFORMATION TEXTILES exhibition at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum 

Dec 2021 to Sep 2022 THE JOURNEY OF AN ARTIST exhibition was a concept that I had wanted to set into motion for more than 10 years and finally did together with Antoinette Kriel. 

Although there are a few commissioned and sold quilts mentioned here it was only as a result of a lot pressure from the people who now own them.




1989 Annual Quilt Show Challenge. * 1st Place. * Most creative use of the challenge fabric. 

1990 Christmas Challenge. * Best machine quilting. 

1991 Christmas Challenge. * Best machine quilting. *Best embellishments. 

1993 Floral Challenge. *2ndPlace. *Best machine quilting. *Best embellishment. 

1993 Annual Dias Quilt Show. *2ndPlace. *Judges Choice. *Most original design. *Best machine quilting. 

1994 Dias Challenge. * 1stPlace *Best original design. 

1996 Dias International Quilt Day Irish Challenge.*Viewer’s choice. *Highly commended – Humour. *Highly commended – Hand applique.

1999 Dias challenge - “Gardens Wild & Wonderful”.*1stPlace – Applique category. 

2020 Dias Spring Show - Challenge 3rd place


Click on photos to view enlargements.