TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List | Odette Tolksdorf
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Odette Tolksdorf

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Odette Tolksdorf

Odette Tolksdorf – Durban, South Africa


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I am a textile artist and teacher living in Durban, a subtropical city with many cultures, on the east coast of South Africa.  My art quilts have often been influenced by the multi-layered African environment and by other personal experiences.

In my work the formal elements of design are always important.  I find the relationships and contrasts between shapes, lines, colours and textures, endlessly fascinating.

I am a Graphic Design graduate and I teach a variety of classes in design and contemporary quiltmaking at South African and international conferences, guilds and other groups.  My teaching approach is positive, encouraging and constructive as I guide students to develop individual work and to discover their own creative journeys.

My classes are structured to explore quiltmaking and art and design principles in practical, effective and enjoyable ways, with class projects being open to each student’s personal interpretation.

The video to the left shows a six minute interview at The World Quilt and Textile Show. It’s right at the beginning, so do take a look!


Odette was born a twin and one of seven siblings in the Cape Province in South Africa but spent most of her childhood in Australia.  Her parents returned to live in Namibia and Odette completed her last two years of school back in Cape Town, South Africa. Odette is a Graphic Design graduate and completed her studies in 1981.  Since then she has taken further visual art classes in painting, mosaics, fabric painting and dyeing and quilting. Her work often includes abstract images, rich and expressive colour and an underlying sense of structure. She uses cottons, silks, organza and other textiles like barkcloth, that may be hand dyed, painted, screened or commercially printed.

Her work is in private and institutional collections in South Africa and internationally including the Bronx Community College, N.Y., the Garratt Collection and the Swersky Collection in South Africa. Her art quilts have appeared in many juried and invited artist shows including Quilt National (USA),  Innovative Threads (South Africa and international),  ArtQuiltArt (USA) and New International Quilts (UK).

Odette’s work has featured on the cover of  A Passion for Quiltmaking by Norma Slabbert,  Innovative Threads catalogues (1997 and 2005), Houston Quilt Festival brochure and the S.A. Medical Research Council Annual Report (2002/2003).

Her work can also be seen in several books including The Best Contemporary Quilts-Quilt National ’99,  Art Quilts-A Celebration,  Fiberarts Design Book Seven,  Fiberarts Design Book Five,  Innovative Threads-A Decade of Fibre Art and in many magazines including Quilters Newsletter Magazine,  Patchwork Quilt Tsushin, New Zealand Quilter, Popular Patchwork and Quiltmania.


In 2008 Odette was awarded the Pro Dedicate award from the South African Quilters Guild  “for lifting textile art to a professional level, for her dedication to the promotion of the art of quilt making in South Africa and for her vision of promoting South Africa’s textile artists beyond our borders”. She has also been awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of Natal Quilters Guild in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Grassroots Quilters Guild Chairlady’s Award. Odette’s quilts have won awards at the biennial South African Quilters Guild National Festivals.


Since 1988, Odette has judged at several South African National Quilt Festivals and has judged 3 times at the World Quilt and Textile shows in the USA.  She also judges at other local shows and has been a selector for a public art exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery. Her background in Graphic Design and many years of teaching, making and exhibiting have given her valuable experience to draw upon as a judge. In 2009 Odette was appointed the Tutor for Art Theory and Art History for the South African Quilters’ Guild Judges Course.


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