Mags Stephens

Mags Stephens

Artists details

Mags Stephens

The very first tapestry that Marguerite Stephens – or Mags, as she is affectionately known – wove, was based on an artwork by Cecil Skotnes. Her mother, Coral Stephens, a well-known South African weaver in her own right, saw the incised wood block work on display at an exhibition at the Egon Guenther Gallery, Johannesburg in 1963 and told Skotnes that the image would make a wonderful design for a tapestry. “Well, you weave it then,’’ he responded. “No I won’t”, she replied, “but my daughter will!” And the rest, they say, is history. Skotnes made the cartoon, nothing more than a blown-up photo of the block, and Mags wove the tapestry on a high warped loom built by her mother specifically for the task. Skotnes exchanged his wood block for Mags’ tapestry, and her career was launched! The Skotnes wood block which started the whole story still hangs in Mags’ house today.

Since then, Mags has become a legend in her own time through her tapestry collaborations with many South African artists, such as Walter Battiss, Norman Catherine, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Judith Mason, Karel Nel, Sam Nhlengethwa, and Penny Siopis.