Essay

At Home and in the Studio: the Slabbert family

You’ve probably seen teddy bears and decorated Easter eggs placed in windows. The Slabbert whānau did and was inspired to return the favour and to show the things that they make with a daily lockdown Porch Quilt Show.

Making things is a way of life for the Slabbert family from Hamilton. Norma makes quilts, Mauritz turns wood, and daughter, Yvette, makes bobbin lace.

Every day we display a new quilt at the front door of our home – to bring surprise and joy to our locked down neighbourhood and to people on their daily walks. It gives us purpose and in return we get a smile.

As makers they value the intangible qualities of making that cannot be measured – such as joy and satisfaction as well as the sense of achievement that making offers. And they firmly believe in the power of making – especially in challenging times.

In addition, Mauritz and Norma – both in their seventies – want to share the benefits that making has on the health and wellbeing of people their age.

Staying home means we cannot visit galleries. It can make you feel unwell – even if you eat, move, and sleep well.

But for some reason we don’t feel unwell – because there is this new exciting wave of community and online creativity that brings art into our homes. And when we share our creativity, we connect with each other.

See more of their work at the website Family Making Things.

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Norma Slabbert is a writer and quiltmaker from New Zealand. It is her way to contemplate, question, and communicate about life and human nature.

Her quilts reflect the life she lives and the things she care about. She uses old skills to create new work that gives voice to memories and experience. As a journalist and migrant, her work often comments on coming and going, belonging and isolation, place and displacement, and the space between.

Norma has won many awards for her quilts in the past three decades and she was the 2012 recipient of the Aotearoa Quilters Scholarship Award which resulted in her second solo quilt exhibition.  She is now working towards her fourth quilt exhibition at ArtsPost Galleries.

Quilt by Norma Slabbert

Quilt by Norma Slabbert

Quilt by Norma Slabbert