Inspiration

Art Journals

Many people have asked me what Art Journaling is and have wondered if it’s a form of scrapbooking? Well, yes and no. It is a way of collecting thoughts, ideas, visions and memories and putting them all together in a book, similar to what is done in scrapbooking, but art journaling is less commercial and is a more intuitive, individual and creative approach to visually documenting ones thoughts in a freestyle form, using images, paint, textures and words that when combined tell a fuller story.

‘Teatime Reflections’ by Sally Scott. This is a nostalgic reflection on days gone by, growing up on our farm in Zimbabwe. It includes a photo of the  ruin of our family home and the fireplace, in front of which, I once learned to sew and knit.

I have been journaling for many years and have explored a wide array of themes and subject matter. Before I start any new artwork, I make notes and sketch, writing my thoughts and ideas into my art journal, which is kept for this specific purpose. Whenever I have a moment of inspiration, I make a note of it in this book for future reference. It helps to remind me of my initial enthusiasm when my Muse takes leave and I am scratching around for ideas.

A page from my art journal

I also keep journals when I travel, big fat documents that record the details of my journey.They are filled with photos, drawings and writing and are a fabulous way to honour my journey, record inspiration and remind me of my reactions to things and all the fun I had.

Travel journal

I’m also in the process of making a visual document of our family history, something that can be passed down through the generations, that will give family members an illustrated understanding of where they have come from. It’s a major undertaking, but so worth the time and effort.

A family history journal. Artist: Sally Scott

In my reflective moments, I make pages that illustrate my thoughts about deeper emotional issues, and these often progress into fiber artworks, which are a tactile form of journaling. “Surrender”, “Towards Infinity”, “Bongwefela”, “Zimbabwe Ruins #2” and “Desert Beauty are all examples of this. “Zimbabwe Ruins” (below), is another good example of 3 dimensional journaling…

‘Zimbabwe Ruins’ by Sally Scott. This fibre art apron was made after a trip to Zimbabwe in 2004. It documents the chaotic situation and economic decline that I witnessed in that country.

It can also be fun to use story telling as means of exploring issues relating to human behaviour. I recently completed a page that was inspired by Aesop’s fable of Androcles and the Lion, where a slave who has escaped his master and is hiding out in a forest, comes face to face with a lion. Expecting the lion to attack, the man is surprised when the beast limps towards him, holding out his paw. On closer inspection Androcles discovers a thorn embedded in the lion’s foot, and without hesitation, carefully extracts the thorn. Through this simple action a deep, mutual trust is formed and they continue to help each other survive in the forest. Later they are both recaptured, and with the emperor in attendance, Androcles is thrown into the lion pit. As luck would have it, the hungry lion is none other than the one he had befriended in the forest and, recognizing a friend, the lion rubbed up against him like an affectionate, purring cat. The emperor, on hearing the story, pardoned Androcles and let the lion free into his native forest. The moral of the story is that gratitude is the sign of noble souls or the kindness and caring of one being to another will always be remembered.

A journal page dedicated to the theme of trust and vulnerability, inspired by ‘Androcles and the Lion’.

On my journal page, I illustrated the story, but added another dimension to the meaning. Sometimes it happens that in an effort to protect our vulnerability, we create defensive armour (thorns) that can unwittingly inflict wounds on another’s vulnerability, causing the victim to strike out and inflict a wound of their own. If one can step back in love and compassion and recognize where the pain is coming from, one can remove the thorn, and trust and vulnerability can return. In this story both parties were vulnerable, but it was their recognition of this that allowed them to trust each other, thus doing away with their need to protect themselves and enabling them to form a bond which ultimately was the strength that broke the chains of their captivity. It was their trust of each other that allowed them to be free. So, vulnerability is crucial, for without it we cannot trust and without Trust one cannot have freedom.

As you can see Art Journaling can appear in numerous forms and be a great source of enjoyment and therapy. If you are interested to learn more or to try your hand at it, please contact me, as I will have a new series of workshops available in 2018, in addition to my regular monthly journaling sessions that I hold in my Grahamstown studio. My final session for 2017 will be this Saturday 25th November. Call me if you would like to come.

 

 

Advertisements
Categories: Drawing, Inspiration, Workshops | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Value of Tone

I read somewhere recently that in painting, tone is everything. If one gets the tonal values right, the other elements stand a good chance of coming together. It struck me in that moment, that tone is important in many aspects of human communication, be it the tone of our voice when we say something or the tone in our head when we read an email or message. One can say something one thinks is innocent, but if the tone of voice is off, the meaning of those words can change completely.

The challenge for us all in these times of mass communication and digital media, is to make our words come across in the way we intend them. The problem of course, is that even if one’s words are written with care and good intention, if the recipient of an email is in a bad space when reading those toneless words, they will impose their own tone and completely transform the meaning.

So I am not surprised to see that the race is on between rival digital tech companies to come up with human like emojis that are aimed at illustrating the tone of the words being sent out on social media. Perhaps this is partly why platforms like WhatsApp have become so much more popular than email. The pictures can say it all, short circuiting the need for us to impose our own bad/sad mood on the words of the sender. How clever we are becoming… for anything that helps promote understanding in this very conflicted world, does it for me.

Categories: Drawing, Inspiration | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Survival – A Lesson from the Veld

I have recently been sorting through my aloe paintings, and one in particular stands out, for its universal message has a personal story attached…

When I was a young girl, we lived on a cattle ranch in Inyanga, which is situated in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, in a magnificent mountain range that borders with Mozambique.

There were seven children in our family and we roamed pretty wild and free, spending our days either helping with the farm or exploring the rivers, kopje’s and bush.

On top of the mountain, looking over our 14,000 acre Nyangui Ranch, 1975.

The hillsides of the farm were littered with mysterious ancient ruins and stone terraces that we loved to scramble over and explore, as we disappeared down tunnels, into unexpected enclosures, picking up shards of pottery, imagining who might have once lived there.

Exploring ancient ruins on our farm. 1975

It was a blissful existence for kids growing up without television and all the mod cons of today. We learned to appreciate Nature on both macro and micro scale and this laid a firm foundation for the creativity that was to follow.

Sisters catching tadpoles in one of the many rivers on the ranch

 

Playing in the stream, siblings Sally, Anthony and Penny, 1967

But then war came to that beautiful area and we were forced to move, leaving our playground behind. We all set off on our respective paths and life taught us some serious lessons.

On a nostalgic return trip to the old farm, many years later, I took my two young sons to visit a ruin that lay embedded in a commanding position at the top of a hill. The countryside was hot and dry, and in the grip of a ten-year drought. The rock hard ground was stripped bare of grass and the termites were eating the trees. A veld fire had recently removed whatever dry grass remained.

Nyangui Ranch in the drought. 1991

As we clambered up over the multiple layers of terraces, sweating and panting in the heat, we finally reached the ruin. Memories of my childhood came flooding back as I surveyed the landscape around and as I sat on a warm granite rock, I felt the earth’s energy seep through my body like a much needed blood transfusion. Oh, it was so good to be home!

In my desire to share my youthful memories, I attempted to ignite some enthusiasm into my sons, who both looked somewhat confused as to what all the excitement was about. I was beginning to wonder myself what the purpose of this visit had been. I mean this was my childhood and these were my memories, so how I was hoping that my boys would get it I really don’t know, when their reality was based in the city and the lush green hills of Natal.

My two young sons visit the ancient ruins for the first time. 1991

Then, as I wandered around with my camera, I came upon two small aloes, side by side, both scorched from the fire, parched from the drought, but doggedly standing their ground. I was riveted by this image of survival, and in that instant, I knew why I had needed to be there.

I took that photo with me into the turmoil of my life and kept it as a clear reminder that no matter how great the heat, the thirst and the flames, when one is well rooted and grounded, one can survive pretty much anything. With a belief in one’s ability to survive, one can emerge stronger from the experience, with spirit and light intact.

‘Nyangui Aloes’ by Sally Scott
Medium: Chalk Pastel

Last year I translated that photograph into a chalk pastel painting and was reminded once again that Nature is the great teacher and Creativity, the therapist. Or is it the other way round?  Whichever way I look at it they seem to work in tandem and I am very grateful for both.

 

Categories: Background, Drawing, Inspiration, Landscapes | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bags

As the first of my Bohemian Bag Workshops comes to a close, I have been reflecting upon my fascination with this humble little accessory. Where does my interest stem from and why is it that a beautifully beaded or embroidered bag can put a smile on my face and get my heart racing?

For as long as I can remember, I have been attracted to beaded and embroidered bags and as a young girl growing up in Botswana, I remember being enthralled by the beaded leather pouches of the San, and recall with great clarity, seeing an exquisite example of one, framed upon a friend’s wall.

63fbc7e5f74f620cb2e59b28f07dfdf8

An example of a beaded San pouch

These artifacts left an indelible mark on my psyche and much of my textile work has been inspired by these beautifully crafted, functional little artworks.  When I page through any of the lavishly illustrated African art coffee table books that stand upon my bookshelf, it is invariably the images of bags that attract me,  be they the sumptuous  leather camel bags of the Tuareg or the richly coloured, beaded medicine pouches of the Yoruba diviner.

fbe5d4c33730db1353bdf54a4b02424c

An example of a Tuareg camel bag

 

fd675827dd03f42f508de531a0c20594

The medicine pouch of a Yoruba diviner

Over the years I have gathered a small collection of my own, and amongst my most prized possessions is a small leather wallet with metal- studded tassels, typical of those worn by the men of the Fingo tribe of South Africa.

On a trip through the USA during the 1990’s, I was totally enthralled by Native American beadwork, and loaded my suitcase with books on the subject that I have looked at and been inspired by over and over again. The little pouches, with tassels and elaborate beaded patterns, never failing to excite me. At a pueblo I visited in New Mexico, I was able to acquire a small little pouch that now hangs upon my wall.

Then a trip to Sweden, took me through the museums of Stockholm and I discovered embroidered purses like I had never seen before.

242a45971c91c2514a1ea894c139c50f

Swedish folk costume bag 1916

That set me off, and for the week that followed, my friend Janet and I sat at her dining room table, piled high with fabrics, felt and embroidery silks, creating our own little gems.

Women at work ... making bags

Women at work … making bags

Making bags in Sweden

Making bags in Sweden

And then I came upon gypsy bags, those colourful, quirky, assemblages of beads, buttons, tassels and trims, and knew that I just had to have one for myself, but as Grahamstown is not exactly a hippie hangout, I realized I would have to make my own…

My bohemian bag

My bohemian bag

That’s how the workshop was born and judging by the enthusiasm of my first group of bag making students, I can see there will be plenty more workshops to come.

So, what is it that makes a woman love a beautiful bag? Like shoes, many women are attracted to them like magnets. Is it because they carry our most precious possessions, our documents and money that prove who we are and give us the freedom to move through our daily lives? Possibly, but there is definitely something more, and it’s in the process of making one, that I discover a whole new layer of meaning. The process is both absorbing and healing, a kind of meditation that takes one away from the troubles of this world. But beware, it can also become addictive and often, whilst I’m working on one, there is another forming in my mind!

Over the years I have created numerous bags, pouches and purses, for a variety of different reasons and so for the purpose of this post, went digging in my archives to find a few to share. My bags are not always practical, but usually soulful, symbolic and tend to reflect the place, both emotional and geographical that I was in at the time I made them. If you click on the images below, you can enlarge and enjoy:

In my next post, I will bring you some of the action and outcomes from the first of the Bohemian Bag Workshops. I have another one planned for November, so if you feel like escaping the madness out there and joining us for two days of soothing, healing therapy, please let me know.

Categories: Fibre Art, Inspiration, My Studio, Workshops | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Retreating to the Wild

It was May 1997, when my brother Anthony Stidolph and I set off on an epic journey from Durban, South Africa to Zimbabwe in search of artistic inspiration. It was a much anticipated trip and as we drove along the great North road, the balmy warmth of the sun reflected the grins on our faces. We had just passed through the J.G.Strijdom Tunnels when we drew up behind two heavily overloaded vehicles, one trying to overtake the other on a blind hill. Neither were doing more than 80 kph and both were packed to capacity with what looked like the contents of a house. I knew we were getting close to our destination, for sights like this are commonplace as one gets near to the border with Zimbabwe. As crazy and dangerous as these dilapidated old vehicles were, I felt a surge of affection and looked forward to crossing the border and smelling the air of home.

Untitled-Scanned-05psweb

The border crossing is always stressful, but once we were through and on the road again, the vehicle felt like it was flying. We made a quick stop at the Rutenga Butchery for biltong, and childhood memories of dust, heat and the slow pace of life came flooding back. Children on bicycles and old men on chairs waved at us as we pulled out of the parking lot, with a pack of biltong in hand. Back on the road, the blue hills in the distance became magnificent granite domes. We turned off at Rutenga Halt, passing a variety of modes of transport; old bent axil buses, donkey carts and wheelbarrows, all going about their business as usual.

Untitled-Scanned-06psweb

The mopane trees gave way to msasa trees and all along the way, amongst the rock-strewn hills, were masses of huts with silvery grey thatch shimmering in the sunshine. After Chiredzi the bush became thorny acacia scrub, the land was hot and dry and from the sky, bright, vast and open, came a penetrating light. The baobab trees became more frequent and Bateleur Eagles flew overhead. Everywhere there were Hornbills, perched on thorn trees, flying alongside the car or hopping in the sand beside the road, their quizzical expressions directed towards us as we motored past. We ploughed down the track towards the camp through thick, deep, red sand edged by bush that buzzed with life.

The camp, by contrast, was a little green oasis, with log cabins, set amongst trees and green lawns, each facing out into the wilderness. At the sound of the car, Nicky Rosselli, my youngest sister, appeared as an ethereal vision from the darkness of her hut and leant against the doorway watching us, with her paintings resting up against the outer wall. They were beautiful paintings, from which emanated light and soul.

Untitled-Scanned-07web

In that instant, I understood why artists need retreats like this, a ‘time-out’ from the routine of everyday life, a period earmarked for uninterrupted focus and engagement with the subjects of our interest, a space that allows inspiration to flower and take the form of art. Nicky, who had arrived a few days before us, had clearly wasted no time in finding her inspiration.

The place is Malilangwe, a nature conservancy in the lowveldt of Zimbabwe. As far as I know, this artist retreat no longer exists, and the area has been developed as an upmarket reserve, but at that time these small chalets were reserved for artists, where in return for a piece of artwork, one could stay for minimal cost. The chalets, set in a clearing in the bush, were thatched and cool, serviced and all meals were provided, so artists who visited there had no chores and nothing to interrupt the flow of their creativity. It was an ideal and exhilarating experience, and we had a whole week in which to immerse and respond to the wilderness.

The environment was wild, alive with venomous snakes and dangerous animals. We had encounters with all of them and to this day, I have vivid memories of my visitation from a black mamba, that slithered quietly past me, its dark, beady eyes fixed upon me as I sat on a rock drawing a group of dassies (rock hyrax) not far from the camp.

Untitled-Scanned-08pswebI was focussed and calm, enjoying the sensation of the graphite marks on paper, when I became aware of a movement a metre from where I sat. I looked down and made eye contact with an impressive, sleek, fat olive green snake that undulated along the base of the rock below me. I quietly called my brother, who was also drawing among the rocks somewhere not far from where I sat. Detecting no urgency in my call, he took his time in coming and it was only when he saw the snake and in hushed tones told me to stay still, that the enormity of the occasion began to filter into my consciousness. We stood rigidly together for a few moments and then glanced about for the quickest escape route, which happened to be a drop of several metres off the granite dome. My camera and pencils were still between me and the snake, so they would have to stay behind and in a moment of decision, we both leapt off the rock, scrambled through the thick leaves and branches and hot footed it to the camp. We waited there for an hour or so and then Ant and Nicky returned to collect our things. When they returned, they told me that unbeknown to him, Anthony had been sitting on the well worn snake path not far from the snakes hole. Things could have turned out very differently had I not called him away to come and look!

Untitled-Scanned-10psweb

That experience was one of those moments where death appears so unexpectedly, looks one squarely in the face, but the danger doesn’t register until after the moment had passed. I still shudder when I think how close I came to meeting my end, but I recognize that it was my stillness, my being completely absorbed in the moment, that gave me a sense of oneness with everything around me. I did not recognize the danger, nor feel any fear and the snake sensing no threat, was able to pass right by me. A profound life lesson was learned.

Malilangwe 97 5psweb

A pencil colour drawing done at the scene where I met the Black Mamba

Well, as if that bit of excitement wasn’t enough, that afternoon Nicky suggested we visit a hide to view the game as it came down to the waterhole. We packed our sundowners into the truck and headed off along sandy roads through thick bush to the hide. Leaving the car some way off, out of site of the hide, we clambered up the wooden steps and settled ourselves down with drinks and dried wors and waited for the animals. I was sitting on the top step, sketching the veld, when Nicky’s husband, John spotted a herd of buffalo moving towards us through the bush. I carefully laid down my crayons and sketchpad and eased myself into the hide. The buffalo had seen us and paused for a bit before deciding to come down for a drink. Slowly they made their way down to the waters edge, but a small group hung back, looking uncertain, milling around in the bush. Once the main herd had finished drinking and ambled back into the trees nearby, several others stood around, sniffing the air and looking up at the hide. Despite us sitting stock still, they definitely knew we were there and when a couple of them lay down to sleep directly beneath us as if settling in for the night, I began to feel a bit uncomfortable. What if they didn’t leave? By now it was getting quite dark and with our car some distance away, as per the camp instructions, we weren’t sure what to do. Nicky suggested we should sleep the night in the hide, but John wanted to try and get to the car. The risk was definitely quite great, with the herd so close and restless, so we waited a little while longer. Eventually, John decided to move, so eased himself quietly down the steps and stealthily walked through the bush towards the car. Several buffalo, alerted by his movement, moved in his direction, so to distract the creatures, Ant perched at the top of the stairs and I bashed my crayon tin against the railing. The most menacing buffalo stopped and looked at us, giving John the gap he needed and soon we saw the headlights moving slowly through the trees, pulling up alongside the hide. We made our escape and Ant and I travelled to camp in the back of the bakkie, the air washing past us in warm and cool patches, the smell of warm, dry grass in our nostrils. Up above us the dark sky was clear and filled with stars, not a cloud to be seen anywhere.

lizardpsweb

The next adventure we had was with a lone buffalo. Nicky, who had arrived a few days before us, wanted to take us to see some bushman paintings that she and John had found on their explorations. We parked some distance away and walked through bush to a hill that had a cave. As we followed Nicky through the thick grass, I anxiously scanned for any sign of wild life. There was plenty of evidence of elephant dung and broken trees, and the smell of wild animal permeated the air. We found the cave, admired the paintings, below which were rocks stained with fresh blood, presumably from a recent leopard kill. We wandered up on top of the hill to admire the view and then decided to take a shortcut back to the car through the gap in the hills. We followed my brother-in-law through the waist high grass, crunching msasa pods underfoot, silent and lost in thought, when suddenly John jumped backwards with a shout for us to “Get back!” He had surprised a buffalo as he came around a bush. Alarmed, it leapt up and swung around. I was aware of John turning on his heels, the stamping thud of buffalo hoofs, a flash of its dark body and I turned tail and headed for the rocks nearby, as did Nicky and Ant. I scrambled upward as fast as I could, heart pounding in my ears, and glanced anxiously back expecting to see the buffalo in hot pursuit and wondered if buffalo could climb rocks. Fortunately for all of us, the beast hot-footed it in the opposite direction and I caught a fleeting glimpse of it disappearing into the grass between us and the vehicle. After that it was nowhere to be seen and we tentatively edged forward wondering if it was safe to proceed to the car. We made it and relieved, launched off onto the dusty road in search of more game. It had all happened so fast and felt slightly surreal, so I felt a strong sense of elation to still be alive!

spider web

Between all the excitement of mambas and buffalos, our days were largely spent in a state of creative bliss. Each morning we would wake to the sound of birds, raise ourselves and head to the dining area for breakfast under the trees, overlooking a magnificent dam, where the shimmering, silver surface embraced the surrounded hills. From here we collected our art equipment and peeled off in our different directions in search of things to draw and paint.

Our visit to the Malilangwe Conservancy marked the first stage of our journey and by the end of that week we felt we had truly shaken off the shackles of the mundane.  Our senses had been awoken, we had reconnected with our environment, and were finally listening and responding to the artists within. The road that lay ahead was exciting, for it was to take us forward to Inyanga, and back to the ranch on which we grew up.

This will be the subject of another post, so in the meanwhile, if you would like to see some of the work that has arisen from my travels, visit my website www.sallyscott.co.za

Categories: Drawing, Fibre Art, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Retreat

In May last year I was invited to join a group of ladies from Gauteng for a weekend of art making at Ann’s Villa, a self catering early settler Victorian mansion, that stands alone in the rugged terrain at the foot of the Zuurberg Mountains in the Eastern Cape. Helen Lunn, owner of the villa, had met me over the telephone when I had inquired about renting her space for my big birthday celebration a couple of months earlier. After the party, when she learned of my involvement in the arts, she asked if I would like to join her group of friends on an art retreat at the villa. It was an unexpected invitation and a bit of a risk to accept, given that I had never met her or anyone in the group, but I was curious and the thought of having another weekend in that beautiful environment, was enough to make me take up this opportunity. After all if I didn’t fit in, I could always return home to Grahamstown, a mere 88 kms away. That, as it turned out, wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t long before we had all settled in like old friends. It was a great weekend and so much fun to work alongside people whose experience, interests, talents and skills differed from my own. I learned much and came away from the those few days in the outback of the Karoo, wishing that I could have stayed longer, but feeling enriched, relaxed and inspired.

 

With the limited time available, my output was fairly minimal, but I did manage to produce a few sketches.

anns villapsweb

Outside the blacksmith’s shop, Ann’s Villa 2014. Charcoal.

 

anns villa 2psweb

An ink sketch of Ann’s Villa 2014

 

Ink and wash drawing of the rear view of Ann's Villa 2014

Ink and wash drawing of the rear view of Ann’s Villa 2014

So what is it about retreat that is so enticing? The idea of it is filled with possibility. For me it’s being able to legitimately withdraw from the madness of modern living, to step out of the predictable and well defined grooves of daily life, to enter into a space where anything can happen, where I can take time to intimately explore the outer environment and free fall into my inner world to see what’s going on in there. It’s having the time to express myself in an honest, uncompromising manner, knowing that what I produce doesn’t matter because it’s the process of doing it that counts. I love having no responsibilities and minimal expectation, where I can do pretty much anything with my day and take my time in doing it. I love the fact that I can indulge without the slightest whisper of guilt in the pleasures of making art in an environment that offers so many possibilities.

Over the years, I have been on several such retreats, and in my next post I will share another very memorable occasion when my sister, Nicky, brother Anthony and I took ourselves off to a beautiful conservancy in the low veldt of Zimbabwe.

Categories: Drawing, Inspiration, Landscapes | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Creative Art Journaling Workshop

I have a particular affection for the province of Limpopo, an area of South Africa that is steeped in history and bursting at the seams with its rich cultural heritage. It is one of the few places in the country where one can have the privilege of meeting local artists and crafters in their home villages, surrounded by their amazing hand crafts. In a world where the authentic is fast becoming something of the past, this area still has small pockets of authenticity, where mass consumerism hasn’t completely obliterated traditional craft art. My need for authenticity has drawn me back to this area several times over the past few years, and whilst I do see changes, the delight of traveling into rural Limpopo never fades. Without fail, after each of these visits, I have returned to my own home on the other side of the country, inspired, revitalised and ready to get back to my own creativity.

It was with this appreciation for the area in mind, that I decided to embark on a new creative project, one that combines my love of travel with my interest in the arts. I have been teaching drawing and fibre art for many years and last year added creative art journaling to the mix. So when Marcelle Bosch of Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge approached me about the possibility of organising an art journaling workshop in conjunction with the village tours they run, I jumped at the opportunity.

So, it is now with great pleasure that I invite you to join me on a four-day creative art journaling experience from 1st – 4th July 2015, at the Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge, which is situated at the foot of the magnificent Soutpansberg Mountains, near Louis Trichardt (Machado).

Final advert for Madi a Thavha workshop-outline 3

The four star luxury lodge is nestled in a magnificent natural environment with the comforting backdrop of the mountain. The rooms are comfortable and colourfully decorated with the work of Limpopo’s craft artists. Workshop participants will stay at the hotel and have all meals included.

The workshop will begin with a one day field trip out into the villages of the area, where, with the help of an experienced tour guide, we will explore markets, businesses and homesteads, famous for their wall paintings and get a glimpse into daily rural life. We will meet local artists and crafters, surrounded by their pots, sculptures, musical instruments and bead work, as well as travel through some very impressive scenery. The outing will give us a chance to talk to local people, take photographs and generally gather inspiration and material to use over the next three days, when I will take you through the process of visually documenting your experience.

Limpopo is famous for it's beautiful clay African pots

Limpopo is famous for it’s beautiful clay African pots

In the workshop you will spend your time creating a journal that visually expresses your response to our outing into the villages. We will use a variety of techniques and mediums, and for those who are insecure about their talents, I will provide basic instruction in drawing, painting and collage, with ideas to incorporate the written word. With the limited time available, it is unlikely that you will complete your journal, but it will certainly mark the beginning of a process that can keep you busy for many years to come.

Booking for the workshop has now opened, so if you are keen to come or need more information, please contact Marcelle at info@madiathavha.com

Please note that space is limited and booking closes on 31st May 2015.

Categories: Drawing, Inspiration, Landscapes, Workshops | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Craft Art in South Africa

I recently returned from Cape Town where I attended the launch of Craft Art In South Africa, a sumptuous new book by Dr.Elbe Coetsee that features a delicious selection of work from the best of South Africa’s craft artists. It is beautiful, irresistible and worth every cent that you will pay to have this volume in your collection. Elbe and her team have done an amazing job of bringing you a treasure that will inspire and bring pleasure for years to come. Produced by Jonathan Ball Publishers, the book is available through all leading book stores and available to order online. I am happy and very honoured to say that my work features on pages 186 – 189.

AAA_CraftArtCover_ FINAL_3_NOV

Categories: Exhibitions, Fibre Art, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Catalyst for Hope

Every once in a while, a little gem lands on my Facebook page that is too good not to share. Take a look at this short video clip about our feisty survivor, Thandi.

It was Thandi’s story that inspired Harry Owen to put together the international collection of poems For Rhino in a Shrinking World and it was Thandi’s story that inspired me to illustrate it. So, if Thandi’s story has touched you, please share the message as far and wide as you can, for only through action and awareness do we have any hope of bringing the scourge of rhino poaching to an end.

Meanwhile, stay tuned, for another art post is on the way…!

Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Restoring the Soul

In the hustle and bustle of this chaotic world, there’s nothing quite like a week in the bush to restore ones sense of equilibrium.

I have been looking forward to this week all year and am now sitting on the verandah of our chalet, perched high on the river bank overlooking the Crocodile River. Beyond the watery flood plain, dissolving into the hazy horizon, spreads a blanket of  bush veld that forms part of the Kruger National Park. We are staying at the Ngwenya Lodge that is situated to the South of the park, close to Komatipoort and near to the Crocodile Bridge entry point.

The view across the Crocodile River, as seen  from our chalet at Ngwenya Lodge

The view across the Crocodile River, as seen from our chalet at Ngwenya Lodge

For the first three days all I have wanted to do is sit and allow the tension and adrenalin of the past few months to drain from my body. I feel immobilised and am happy to do nothing but stare off into the distance, emptying my mind as the sounds of the bush wash over me. It takes a while for my body rhythm to synchronise with the  harmony  of the bush, but I am fully prepared to succumb and let Nature take the lead.

An Egyptian Goose

An Egyptian Goose

Perched on the railing in front of me are a couple of Egyptian Geese. They are cocky and noisy, hanging around in the hope of receiving titbits from the kitchen. I marvel at their colouring, the layers of richness within their feathers, and sigh as I realise that Natures artistry is so much better than I could ever hope to achieve. On the grassy patch in front of the chalet a group of excited weavers have found some seed, which they are devouring as if it were their last meal. Cheerful, chatty little characters, their yellowness creates a fluorescent halo of light.

To the left my eye catches an unexpected movement, and there, emerging from the scrub that lines the river, comes a leguaan, otherwise known as a monitor lizard, it’s scaly, dragon-like body slung low to the ground. From the look in its eye and the ominous forked tongue that darts in and out, I can see that this guy has attitude and as it rapidly approaches the verandah, I instinctively lift my feet. This is one little critter that I certainly don’t want to tangle with. I soon learn that these large lizards come to the chalets in search of eggs, which they devour by smashing the egg on the wooden railing and then gulping it down at speed.

A leguaan or monitor lizard

A leguaan or monitor lizard

Out on the sandy river bank, the scene is ever changing, a montage of elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and numerous species of buck that come down for their daily drink and bath. The regular residents of the waterway, crocodile and hippo, are always there and it doesn’t take long to spot them, either lying on the edge of the water or lurking below the surface.

Hippo relaxing in the sun

Hippo relaxing in the sun

I could happily sit here all week, listening to the soothing sound of the rapids and the grunts of contented hippo, but it makes sense that we should also check out what’s going on in the Kruger National Park.

Looking across the river to Kruger Park

Looking across the river to Kruger Park

So early each morning and evening, we pack ourselves into the vehicle and set off to see what surprises the wilderness has in store for us. Over the period of a week, we are to see a wide variety of game and I come away with snapshots of numerous memorable moments. Now although, or maybe because I am a bush girl, born and raised in Zimbabwe, where animals roam free and far beyond conventional boundaries, I have an enormous respect for the wild and a heightened awareness of my human insignificance in the greater scheme of things. Despite the fact that our wild life is threatened by humankind, I know I am the weaker species and extremely vulnerable when up against any wild animal. So I never take anything for granted and each encounter with the wild is edged with a tingle of anticipation and a desire to know that I have an effective escape route. No matter how many elephants I have seen in my life, each time we approach one as it crosses the road or grazes quietly in the bush as we sidle past, I hold my breath and hope that it is friendly. After all, it was only a few months ago that graphic video footage of a vehicle being flipped over by an irritated elephant spread like a wild fire on social media and I sure wouldn’t want that to happen to me!

But we are careful and respectful and thoroughly enjoy our trips into the park. Here are a few images of an average day in the bush:

For me the highlight of our trip was to see the magnificent rhino and I found myself mesmerised by their every movement, willing them to stay safe and undetected by the snipers bullet. I am acutely aware that the privilege of being able to see these animals in the wild is something the next generation may not be able to enjoy and as I watch this powerful, primordial creature anxiously nudging its baby to safety, I am ashamed of the human species. I feel the rhinos vulnerability and soak up our silent interaction, not wanting it to end.

A white Rhino mother and her calf

A white Rhino mother and her calf

Another special treat was to see my favourite bird, the Ground Hornbill. They strutted their stuff and looked us up and down from beneath the canopy of their eyelashes. Such attitude is seldom seen in any other bird and if I were to choose one bird that I would like to be in another life, this would be it.

The Ground Hornbill

The Ground Hornbill

And so it was that my week in the bush sadly came to an end, but as I sat out on the verandah watching the sun go down over the river and the veldt beyond, I felt immensely grateful that we have places like this to come to when we need to unwind.

The sun sets over Kruger

The sun sets over Kruger

The end of a perfect holiday

The end of a perfect holiday

And what would life be without friends and family to share these experiences with? So to Malcolm, Rene, Tammy and Craig, thank you for making this possible and helping to restore my soul.

The family who made this holiday possible

The Sturrock family, who made this holiday possible

Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.