I am so lucky that I have Petra Ahlers, who sorts out my Website for me and hundreds of other little things I need done before the exhibition. I highly recommend her services to anyone who needs their websites or any other I.T. solution needed.
You know you are getting old when Petra decides to help me find out why my email is not working. You know you are old when she asks very diplomatically
what the pin number for my dongal is. I don’t quite know what a dongal is or that it even had a pin number. I watch with fascination as she expertly opens the dongal open and squints at it, hoping to find something.
My husband, bless him, is one in a million who does everything IT for me, so I have no idea where anything comes from or what it does. I just put my hands on the right keys on the keyboard and away I go.
Only when it doesn’t work, then I have a problem, which either Rick or Petra obligingly help.
Petra is so careful not to embarrass me and very diplomatically makes a phone call to Vox to see what’s going on. She politely tells the voice at the other end that she is helping a person older than herself, who needs to know why the Internet is not working on the computer.
Inside me I giggle and I know I am old when I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then I think, I may not be that good with computers, but I sure can paint elephants and other interesting stuff which go together to make up the FOUR exhibition.
Many months ago, in fact, many years ago, I spoke about dealing with work loads is like eating an elephant, which you can’t eat all at one go, but bit by bit. It has taken me a long time to do enough artwork in order to put an exhibition together, but at last I have managed to do so. Somehow, by pure co-incidence not one, but two elephants appeared in my work and they look really happy.
After a bit of digging and delving I discovered that elephants are considered to be mythic characters. They are symbols of strength and power and in India they lead processions and carry kings and queens on their backs.
My elephants, however, are balancing precariously on tables in the circus.
I hope that you will be able to join us for a glass of wine at the opening of my exhibition “FOUR’ on the 9th June, Friday, at 6 pm
As part of my research into all my past diaries of drawings and memories, I came across some little scribbles which I had done when Sarah, my daughter and I went to the circus together. I will never forget that day, as we had received two complimentary tickets to the Rand Show and had decided to go together. It was the highlight of our visit (besides an awful flea-market which Sarah loved).
The show started with a lively entrance of some real cocky clowns who were so funny. I was fascinated and before I knew, out came the diary and I recorded their antics. It was the best circus show that I have ever seen.
A couple of months later, my drawing partner, Clare Haynes, saw the drawings of the clowns and took them to Postnet and had enlarged photocopies made of the drawings. She was so persuasive and encouraging.
Finally, now I have painted the clowns and have just loved doing the work. I just envisaged every moment of that day at the circus and hope viewers of the work will enjoy the clowns as much as I did.
More than six months has flown by and it is only now that I am able to raise my head and start life again. We have had so much going on for us family wise ..having a wedding, my son emigrating overseas to Cornwell and my daughter starting her studies at a college. We have managed a by-pass heart op for my husband and are starting to look at the years ahead of us and future retirement. Has it come around so quickly? We are seriously thinking of retiring in our flat in Cape Town, which would require serious down-sizing.
In the meantime, I have painted 31 days for October 2015 and have now started again with hopefully another set of pieces for the future show. I am working on drawings from my diaries and trying to make sense of them, which is an exciting challenge.
I have been working on a new piece, which consists of 4 narrow rectangular canvasses, called, “Four Corners”.
I had spent a couple of weeks drawing from The Bar which is the highest point of a place called The Factory in Grant Avenue in Norwood. This consists of a fairly newly renovated place with the restaurant Vovo Telo, an Antique shop and other various little places such as a glass shop, clothing shop, etc.
I love The Bar as you can see everything in Norwood and my friend, Clare Haynes and myself spent a lot of time there sketching what we could see from The Bar. I sketched all four corners, much to the amusement of the staff, who were extremely kind and helpful.
Since then I have painted from my sketches and found myself being inspired by David Hockney who has done beautiful and magnificent paintings of forests and landscapes. The saying goes that Johannesburg is the largest man-made forest in the world. The Bar at the Factory attests to that. Apart from the two paintings of Grant Avenue, the others show the forest which dominates the work in the background and even the foreground.
I also used extremely bright colours as I wanted to move from the drab buildings of the town in order to show the hidden vibrancy of Johannesburg.
Now it is Spring and my Winter work is over. I have done Spring-cleaning in the garage where I work and I aim to spring into action and work on a possible forth-coming exhibition.
Rick, my husband, and I have been watching the BBC DVD documentary entitled “How Art made the World”. The first part deals with the human form and how we as humans are wired to exaggerate our depiction of the human body.
The documentary investigates rock art to the mother figurine to Egyptian art and then the Greeks. It is all Art and another time. Over my lifetime I have done hundreds and thousands of drawings of people. This habit of sketching people started in High School. I think I have a little ADHD because I cannot concentrate when someone is talking unless I draw someone and generally it was the teacher.
I once got caught drawing my teacher and she gave up worrying about me when she saw the portrait of herself. When I was young it was difficult for me to capture the likeness of the person whom I was sketching.
I have been so busy all these years perfecting the illusion of reality , that I ask myself where does the exaggeration come in? Am I not wired like other artists? It was all Art and another time. I am so besotted with drawing and capturing other people . Who knows, I might be exaggerating their portraits all the time without being aware of it. Maybe one day my drawings will be famous. Ha, ha. Who knows. It is all Art and another time.
Two and a half years ago my friend, Clare Haynes introduced me to Urban Sketching. Whilst she was in Cape Town on holiday, she discovered a book called, “The Art of Urban Sketching”, by Gabriel Campanario. This book has been compiled of sketches and drawings of artists all around the world. Each artist has a story to tell, which goes with the sketch produced.
So Clare and I decided to do our own urban sketching and since the end of January 2013 we have gone from place to place (usually on a Friday) to find something interesting to draw. Initially we went to restaurants to draw people eating, but since then we have started drawing buildings and sometime their interiors.
Just recently Clare and I discovered a bar called ‘The Factory” which is in Grant Avenue, Norwood. It has been fairly recently built and works together with Vovo Telo, who supplies the food to the patrons of the bar.
To our delight The Factory is the highest structure in Norwood and since it is square and at the top of the building, one has a four-cornered view of Norwood.
This place has become my favourite spot and I have spent many happy hours with a glass of wine doing four urban sketches of the corners of the bar. I am now going to work with these sketches and push them further to really produce something that is special about Johannesburg.
Besides all the world-things happening in the world, I must do something to my world. It is Autumn and has become a little …… boring.
I have always had an unsatisfied feeling in my soul, but now that my Mother has passed away, it is really looking me in the face and smirking, “HELLLOOO….”.
I have to do something with my Autumn . Maybe have a mini retreat. I must go to some coffee shop and sit with a couple of coffees and truly look at myself and the world. I must research, get ideas, bounce things off the wall, read, talk, laugh, spit and breathe in huge amounts of something to fill me up in order to become creative again. I guess part of this melancholy comes from the turning of leaves, pretending to be cheerful with their bright colours, knowing that it is their time to share in Autumn death.
I feel challenged and listen to a bell gently beating, “BONG, BONG, BONG …. BONG”. Then my soul sighs, turns around. Where o where am I being called from? I used to be the arrow that flies and hits its mark. Where o where is my mark? Even my art says , “Where o WHAT?”
The brushes get tired and split open, worn out by streaking over the canvas.
When you say, “This is right.” – that becomes old wooden, worn out chairs – in that spot, that space – never to be moved again. Hear this now:
This month has flown by very fast, especially for all the Easter ceremonies, which are very solemn in the Catholic church. In between attending all the ceremonies, I squeezed some time in to do some painting. I have tackled a picture which I have called, “Cookie”, because it her portrait which I am painting. Cookie has beautiful sensitive features and is wearing a magnificent Sari which has delicate embroidered patterns as well as some sort of buttons in the shape of pearls. Her Sari is a magnificent blue, which with her soft golden skin colour, makes me think of the sea. A blue Sari softly lands onto the beach of Cookie’s skin!
I have been wondering what to do with the background of the painting, because I do not want to detract the portrait of Cookie with too lively a background. Perhaps with the sea and sand image, I could paint stars as the background.
The other portrait painting which I am doing is that of my helper, Susan. I feel that this has been influenced by Dorothy Kay who painted her helper, Cookie in 1956. The work is called, Annie Mavata.
I feel exactly the same as the comment Marion Arnold said in her book, “Women and Art in South Africa”, 1996, David Philip Publishers (Pty) Ltd, Claremont (pg. 99), “It was Kay’s intention to paint a particular person, Annie Mavata, the person with whom she had been closely associated for over twenty years and whose assistance had enabled her to further her own artistic career.”
I want to paint Susan who has become part of our household, the skin and bones of who we are as she drifts between the two worlds of the townships and the suburbs.