Monday, July 21, 2008

on another roller coaster ride

Hi, sorry, i seem to pop onto the blog intermittently these days, in between manic sessions in the studio. As I explained recently on my art blog, doing the actual painting is a fraction of the actual work, there is a bunch of admin, publicity, running around etc that also happens. There are quiet spells, and then ones when everything seems to be happening at once. Now is such a time.... it seems that many of the galleries in town are having open exhibitions and a new gallery is giving me a solo exhibition starting on Friday, so that is enough incentive to do without some sleep and get motivated. My godmother died last week, at the age of 80, and I want to do a tribute to her, but it will have to wait a bit. I know she would understand, she was a brilliant artist and knew what it was like to be driven to create!

But there is just one thing I wanted to mention briefly.... I have posted before about the amazing Red Location Museum.... and shown pictures of the 3 remaining historic huts that remain from the establishment of the location in 1903. If you are interested in the struggle against apartheid, and want to read more about the background to it, and see lots of pix, follow the links.

Anyway, we got a comment on our PE blog this weekend, about how the shacks are under threat, due to vandals and thieves stealing the materials from the shacks and selling them to scrap dealers. There is even a facebook group to help save them.

All this was obviously churning around in my mind, because today, lo and behold, out popped a painting! So here it is.....
the words on the painting read "The time is running out. It is urgent that we unite and work together to mend the rips in the fabric of our society. Our freedom was won at a high cost – and we have the opportunity to rebuild and restore – but there are too many who vandalise, steal and destroy. We need to end the negative actions and save our heritage to remind us of our past- then build the future hand in hand.”
ok, that's it for now.... will chat again in a few days time when the exhibition is up.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bonus Skywatch... Happy 90th Birthday Madiba

I just could not let the special significance of this day go by without comment, so I am giving you a second Skywatch post. (The first was posted in the wee small hours, but then I saw this sky this morning and had to add it)

It is so apt, because today is the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela, my personal hero, and icon of inspired leadership to many around the world. The sky over Nelson Mandela Bay this morning seemed to beam down rays of light, which is utterly descriptive of his effect on our country, and the world.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA, thank you for being you, and for saving our nation from tyranny. I hope your example resonates with all the leaders who are honoured enough to step in your footsteps. May your selfless humility, deep integrity, steadfast conviction and humanity and strength without bitterness in the face of adversity be an everlasting beacon to all who follow.
I was feeling so inspired in the middle of the night that I did a painting to commemorate this special day.

The words written faintly in gold are a quotation from Nelson Mandela...

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

All new super doopa Skywatch

You can visit the new Skywatch site for more.....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nature's Artistry...

Sometimes nature presents you with such wonderful images that all you can do is marvel at them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A walk in the Park......

Parenting is one of those tasks in life for which we are least prepared, and yet it is the most important one we will ever do. To complicate matters it is crammed with paradoxes.... we train them to grow up strong and independent, then miss them like mad when they leave home and go to live halfway across the world.

We avoid showering our kids with all the put-downs we experienced as kids, so that they can grow up with good self esteem, and they pick up on our attitudes to our selves rather than what we are saying about them, so it all perpetuates anyway.

By the time we finally get to middle age, and grow up and learn to like ourselves, our kids have already grown up and are dealing with their own insecurities! But just when it seems that we have blown it, (and don't get me wrong here, our kids are great people!) along comes a second chance! Grandchildren arrive when we are settled and know who we are, and they are a delight! .... except that they often live far away because we did such a good job on the independence thing!

We went through all these dilemmas until our daughter and son in law left Zimbabwe a couple of years ago, and moved nearby. Now, at least one of our grandchildren is able to spend time with us, and we really enjoy our times together.

Last weekend we went for a long walk, and the little guy gamely trotted along with us (ok, lets be more accurate... he ran circles round us!)
He had hundreds of questions about the war memorial at the park entrance....

We looked for rats next to the big pond, where Max photographed them once before....

We fed fish in the pond next to the conservatory.......

He was enchanted by the pergolas....

But his absolute best was hamming it up on the stage of the outdoor thetre where a Shakespeare production is put on annually!

It was sheer delight for all of us.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Skywatch Friday.... having a whale of a time

We had a wonderful time at Cape St Francis last Sunday, watching the unusual clouds on the horizon, the waves smashing on the rocks......

and humpback whales cruising past..... to see more, see previous post.
Have a great Skywatch, I must apologise in advance that I might not be able to visit as much as I would like to this week. Tom at Wiggers World has links to tons of great blogs who participate in the compulsive pleasure of skywatching!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chilling and Whale watching

One of the highlights of our year is the return of the whales to our shores. Each year, between June and September, whales (mostly Southern Right and Humpbacks) return from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to give birth and mate. It is an event we look forward to keenly, and we have a few favourite spots where we like to sit and look for them.

The prime one, for us, is the wild side at Cape St Francis. There are few things in this world that can beat the simple pleasure of sitting on the rough, weather beaten rocks, with waves pounding in front of one, watching pods of whales ambling past, or if you are REALLY lucky, stopping to play.
We have been champing at the bit to get down there since the beginning of June, but were stuck at home, as my extremely high maintenance father was staying with us. However, we despatched him back home (with, I am ashamed to confess, a HUGE sigh of relief!) on Friday afternoon, and with indecent haste took ourselves off for a weekend in St Francis to unwind from the stress of the previous few weeks, and hopefully see a whale.
We only got there quite late on Saturday, and after unpacking, we headed straight for the rocks to see the sunset. We watched for ages, snapped some shots of interesting clouds, and sat in the car checking out each other's photos.
We heard a boom on the water that sounded different to the waves crashing on the rocks, and looked up to see a group of humpback whales right in front of us, lobtailing and creating huge splashes. It was SOOOO exciting! It was already too dark to take decent stills, so I just stood and squealed like a five year old at the pure joy of it. With great presence of mind, Max set his camera to take a movie clip, and despite the poor light, it worked. He will try and post it on his blog in the next few days, and if he does I'll post the link. The one thing that we find hugely frustrating about our cameras is that they film in MOV format, which plays back on Quicktime, an Apple product. It does not seem to be compatable with any of the programmes we have for editing movies. I looked on the site, because I considered getting quicktime pro, but there is no mention of being able to use it to edit clips and make stills from them, on a Windows based PC. I don't want to spend all that money upgrading if the programme will not do what I need it to do. If anyone knows what we should do, please let me know!
This might sound corny to anyone who has not been in the presence of whales, but I find they impart an amazing sense of wellbeing. Even when they are too far away to see anything but the distant spout of vapour as they breathe, somehow their presence is so powerful, peaceful, even joyful. (Obviously not everyone reacts like this, I imagine the guys who handle the harpoons on the whaling ships just see them as a particularly big catch, but less hardened and soul-less individuals seem to be deeply touched by them.)
The next morning we went to watch the sunrise at otters landing .....
.... and saw a school of bottlenose dolphins cruise by. They meant business, and were heading fast across the bay, no playful jumping was going on, so the photos are not too exciting.

Still, this is another animal that has a similar effect to that of the whales, and it is always fun to spot them. I know many people, and particularly surfers, (including our son) who have swum amongst groups of dolphins and they always come out of the water on an absolute high.

After breakfast we headed straight for the lighthouse, because we thought that Seal Point, which offers 360 degree views from the rocks, would be a good place to spot any whales that might be around.
Before long we had spotted the first group...
and by mid morning we had seen 3 families cruise past.
They were not playing like the ones the previous night, and were much further out, but it was still wonderful to have a grandstand view of these awesome creatures.
Nothing could have been more effective in getting rid of the stress of the past 5 weeks, and we went home content and relaxed.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Getting around....

We're on the road again... first a quick visit to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown...

This is a highly regarded annual event in the South African art world, with a wonderful selection of theatre, music, fine art, dance, craft, and a huge selection of stalls selling all sorts of goodies, gathered in the picturesque historic town of Grahamstown, an hour and a half inland from PE.

My friend Julie and I took a day off last week and decided to check out as many of the art exhibitions as time and our feet would allow! The views as we approached Grahamstown, in its "bowl" between hills, were lovely.

The art exhibitions are housed in various churches and school buildings around town. It is a really pretty little town, established in the early 1820s by the British Settlers who were brought in to help defend the Eastern frontier of the Cape Colony. Many wonderful buildings went up in the early years, with good old fashioned pride in the craftsmanship and attention to detail....

It was a perfect winter's day, clear blue skies, crisp but not too cold.

A few autumn leaves were still clinging tenaciously to the trees, and it was a delight to stroll around the streets, going from one exhibition to the next.

One of the things that gives the festival its atmosphere are the show posters attached to every available surface....

.....and even some surfaces that are not available! (Locals hate them, because they usually end up having to remove them at the end, when everyone has packed up and gone home!)

Here is a tiny selection of the many art exhibitions we saw............

We eventually arrived at the Cathedral, which is the centre of town. When I was a potter in the 80s, the Festival was in its infancy, and far less regulated than it is now. I used to make the trip each year, and set my pottery out on the lawns in front of the Cathedral. Now it is a no trading area.

In this area is the "container village", with the sort of crafts that tourists seem to love, but which are available on just about every street corner throughout Africa.

Going down a little alleyway, one heads for the Village Green. This is a large lawn, set up with white marquees containing more commercial handmade goods. This is a great place to fing unique handmade jewellery, glassware, pottery, clothing, leatherware etc.

Everyone gets in on the act, even Jack and Jill the donkeys, who stand around looking cute and hoping for handouts!

Ok, that's it for today, later this week we'll go whale watching in St Francis!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Skywatch Conservatory

The lovely old Victorian Conservatory at St George's Park, the perfect place to see the sky whether inside or out! Visit Tom at Wiggers World for links to lots of great sky photos.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Big OOOOps

I just made what, I think, may stand in line for an entry in the Guiness Book of Records as the most expensive slice of crispbread....

It all started innocently enough. I got home from a hectic session of aquarobics, and thought "breakfast would be nice... " check the fridge, nothing really grabs me... look around, there is only my dad's sliced white bread, which is not my favourite... look in the cupboard and there is a box of crispbread... except it is no longer crisp.

"No problem" I tell myself, "a few seconds in the toaster will re-crisp it, and it will be very nice with mashed avocado pear." Now my immediate family will realise that this is quite a revolutionary statement. Ever since I was a kid, I have thought that avos were the most revolting thing on the planet, almost in the same category as some of the gross items the competitors on Survivor get to sink their long teeth into... my worst was the Tatrantulas.... eeeeuuugh!!! I now LOVE avo, and can't believe the wasted years when I missed out on them! But, as usual, I digress.

However, as I have previously pointed out, I have the attention span of a gnat these days.... so into the toaster went the un-crisp crispbreads, and I turned around to see that the tumble drier had just finished. Off I trundled to fold my dad's laundry before it creased, and as I was finishing that, I heard a strangled yelp from the kitchen.It was Princess, our char, who had arrived in the kitchen to see flames pouring from the toaster and engulfing the top cupboards! The plug, which is in a section of trunking running under the top cupboards, had melted and was dripping a plastic puddle into the toaster
the plastic sides of the toaster were also melting, and the earth leakage had tripped, leaving the whole house without power.

The electrician has just departed, struggling manfully not to laugh openly.

The amazing thing is, just this morning, I was thoroughly enjoying reading Bill Bryson's book "Notes from a Big Country" containing columns he wrote in 1997. One of the chapters deals with his mother's cooking, and clearly if we met, she and I would bond instantly and recognise in each other a soul-sister. To quote Bill Bryson "A combination of haste, forgetfulness and a charming incompetence where household appliances were concerned meant that most of her cooking experiences were punctuated with billows of smoke and occasional small explosions. In our house, as a rule of thumb, it was time to eat when the firemen departed."

I wonder if there is any connection between all this, and the fact that Mr Farty has recently developed a love for raw sprouts, nuts and salads?