Sue Sylvester paints her country into cloth

South African artist Sue Sylvester creates hand-painted fabrics inspired by a love of her home.

Artist Sue Sylvester creates hand-painted fabric products from her studio in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. Her aesthetic is traditional, with intricate (often monochromatic) line drawings covering fabric pieces for the home. She chooses colours from a warm and earthy palette and her designs are drawn from a love of her country and a passion for the beauty of Natal.

Sylvester claims to be a serial collaborator. She started her business over 20 years ago, when the need to supplement her family income forced her to find work. Rather than apply for a job, Sylvester decided to create a job for herself, and in the subsequent years her hand-painting business has created jobs for a handful of creative, entrepreneurial women in her community.

“My painting studio is busy and untidy,” she says, “its full of women, and one of them is always cranky! It used to be a dance studio. I think there is this essence of creative movement in that space, and the light is beautiful.”

Sue Sylvester creates hand-painted fabrics to order for household items, though occasionally they collaborate with clothing makers. Sylvester chose to work with a raw material that would last, wasn’t easy to break, and was light enough to carry. It is central to her creations that “someone had to put a lot of time and love into them”.

Sylvester's artistic style has featured in Mr Price Home's Colab range, a unique range of homeware designed to celebrate South African talent.