Art you can wear on your neck

Art curator Lucy MacGarry set up L’MAD — Lucy MacGarry Art & Design — as an independent arts-based production company to produce limited-edition collections with established and emerging South African artists.

“The idea … was to source artisans, printers and fabricators from around the world — not just South Africa,” she says, “to work with local artists in experimenting with media outside their normal practices.”

In December MacGarry launched her first collection, a series of 10 silk scarves featuring artwork from Michael Taylor, Jan-Henri Booyens, Michael MacGarry, Titus Matiyane, Richard Penn and Jill Trappler.

The scarves are a “crossover between art, fashion and design”, MacGarry says, turning “artworks into wearable silk accessories. I want people to wear them [not just frame them].”  

For her first range, MacGarry chose artists whose work was “graphically strong” and which she knew would “translate well on to the medium”. The summer range, she says, has a “sort of Seventies’ nostalgia, through its muted palette and colour range. However, the intention is not for each scarf to fit into a curatorial theme, but to be unique to the artist’s expression.”   

Penn, whose intricate work appears on two of the scarves, says he has been approached on a number of occasions for collaborations, but that it was important that “the integrity of the work is maintained, and that the work gains something extra in the translation. It’s also important that the project does not over-commercialise the work.”  

Penn’s work — about “origins, the origins of life, of the universe, of ­gestures that are passed from generation to generation” and that deal with the infinitely vast and small interactions and processes of space — adds an ephemeral texture to the delicate silk.  

To translate the artworks into scarves, works were photographed and then digitally processed — including the addition of a subtly placed L’MAD logo — before being printed on to the silk.  

The pure silk twill was sourced by MacGarry in China, and the scarves manufactured locally in South Africa.

“It’s quite challenging not to produce overseas,” says MacGarry, “because we don’t have comparable technology here. The biggest challenge was to reach a point where the production became affordable, without compromising on quality.”  

Each scarf is limited to an edition of 50, and sells for R1 200 (excluding postage). The scarves are currently only available online but will soon be stocked at Guillotine at 44 Stanley, Johannesburg, with stockists in Cape Town and the United Kingdom to be announced later this year. Visit or email: [email protected]

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Nechama Brodie
Dr Nechama Brodie has worked as a multi-media journalist, editor, producer and publisher for nearly twenty-five years. During this time she has dodged the secret police in Burma, explored tunnels underneath Johannesburg, gotten dusty at rock festivals, and reported on the myth of ‘white genocide’ in South Africa.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

Covid-overflow hospital in ruins as SIU investigates

A high-level probe has begun into hundreds of millions of rand spent by the Gauteng health department to refurbish a hospital that is now seven months behind schedule – and lying empty

More top stories

Can you get reinfected with Covid-19? SA has ‘4 000...

Although the new strain 501Y.V2 of the virus has spread 50% more rapidly, current evidence shows that it is not more severe than the one experienced in the first wave

False hope of  ‘miracle’ remedies

Some people believe a drug used to treat parasites is a Covid cure. But science, not social media, is the only way to determine its efficacy

Covid will decide if home refurb boom continues

If herd immunity is reached and life returns to ‘normal’, people may switch spending to things they gave up and the desire to DIY may subside

Luxor Paints loses CCMA case, must pay workers R40m in...

Some of the 181 workers were dismissed for carrying sticks during a strike, others were dismissed even though they weren’t at the picket, but were deemed guilty by association

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…