I heard about and seen artist Liza Lou‘s incredible works, Kitchen and Backyard a few years ago, and of course, my jaw dropped when I realised that these massive, life-sized installations were composed entirely of hand-applied beads. But it’s only recently that I discovered that Liza Lou has been living right here in South Africa for quite some time – a fact that somehow makes sense, when you think of all the amazing beadwork that’s come out of South Africa since anyone can remember.

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Detail from Kitchen

After winning a $50 000 “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2002, Liza Lou opened a studio in Durban where she works with a team of master Zulu beadwomen, who help her realise her new works. In September last year, Liza Lou showed four new works at L&M Arts in New York, including these two, called Continuous Mile and Maximum Security Fence. All of them were made entirely from beads.

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Continuous Mile

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Maximum Security Fence

A recent interview in HandEye Magazine sheds some light on what Liza Lou is doing here in Durban, and there’s more to read about her work in this W Magazine article.

And if you’re on a roll here, why not keep going and read Pam Rubert’s essay about Kitchen and Backyard too.