Amita Makan is a descendant of Indian migrants who arrived in South Africa during British colonial rule. Her Gujarati ancestors came from the ‘Mochi’ caste, a caste just above the ‘untouchables’, who were cobblers. She has inherited their ‘cobbler stitch’ and liberated it to weave personal and autobiographical stories, infused with ancient Indian and Buddhist philosophies with universal resonance, into her embroideries. Her art reflects on past and present, it explores both evolving identities in an uneven globalized world and such social concerns as migration and environment degradation.
Makan is drawn to the South African archive and revisit suspended moments of history to bring it into the present. She uses threads, silk organza, tulle, sequins, ribbons, vintage saris, surgical threads and repurposed packaging materials as metaphors and deconstructs discarded plastic packaging and delicately re-appropriate and ‘redeem’ them to tell stories of the environment, notably endangered African butterflies and our rapidly vanishing ancient and rare floral ‘fynbos’ kingdom.