Lizette Chirrime: Metamorphosis, healing and hybridity

by Lena Sulik

Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented — which is what fear and anxiety do to a person — into something whole. Louise Bourgeois [1]

A young girl from a land of mermaids faces a wicked stepmother; she undergoes an arduous journey to a distant place to fulfil her destiny; she dreams in signs and portents; she returns home armed with new knowledge, reborn.[2] The work of Mozambican textile artist Lizette Chirrime flows from a pool of myth and a personal history of anguish, weaving together elements of form, texture and colour in compositions that re-imagine the way the artist experiences the world. Creating primarily bold collages of intricately patterned African fabric in which abstracted figures float and dance on bright surfaces, Chirrime makes compelling use of both the material aspects inherent in her medium and its complicated history in order to heal the wounds of her past and tell a new life story. “I refashion my self-image and transcend a painful upbringing that left me shattered and broken,” she explains. “I have literally ‘re-stitched’ myself together.”[3]

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Art harmonious: an interview with Lizette Chirrime

by Keely Shinners

Lizette Chirrime is on a mission to heal us all. Her work, characterised by rich, hand-stitched recycled textiles weave together complex stories about trauma and reconciliation, ancestry and rebirth. Her simultaneously corporeal and abstract figures treat the body⁠ – as Chirrime specifies, the femme body⁠ – not as a site of exploitation, but mutability. But it’s not just about the artworks. There’s something restorative about Chirrime’s way of being-in-the-world. Perhaps it’s the space she creates for herself, so well-curated with objects holy and homemade. Perhaps it’s how she listens to the world around her, sensitive to the violence we continue to enact on the earth and each other, while refusing to tunnel into pessimism. Perhaps it’s the way she respects herself, speaking both candidly about her vulnerabilities and confidently about her life’s work.

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