Landscapes

Open Tabs

I recently visited the optometrist, for what I thought was to be a routine check-up that would enable me to renew my drivers license. After flicking through A’s and D’s and upside down E’s, I was relieved to hear that things weren’t as bad as I expected, and engaged the doctor on the ins and outs of ageing and failing eyesight. I had so many questions that every time he started to speak, another question would pop into my mind. Eventually in desperation, he laughed, put his hands up and said I had too many tabs open and that I needed to put a hold on them so that he could attend to one question at a time. I was amused by his analogy, but appreciated him telling me so directly that this is what I do and as I left his consultation rooms, I felt I had just had an awakening.

Back in my studio a short while later, I stopped for a moment and observed the scene before me. Everywhere I looked were half finished projects, enticing piles of creative energy waiting for my attention. In that moment, I knew that my optometrist was right. I do have multiple tabs open, in the form of numerous projects going on at any one time, and I flit from one to the other like a butterfly gathering nectar. I’m sure a good psychologist would tell me the pitfalls of my process, but this is the way I love to work and the way I stay in the flow, I am never without something to do, and even when I am finishing off a project, the next idea is being born.

So since my visit to the good doctor, I have been examining my situation and been actively closing a few of the tabs that have been slowing down my system. I have finished the beading on a bag begun over a year ago,

A funky example of a bohemian bag

given my aloe a flower

One of a series of small ink drawings

 

and completed that winding road that leads me through the Eastern Cape landscape.

A recent work of a road less travelled

I have made the leaves for a sample bag that I will be using when I teach in Port Elizabeth next week

A sample bag for my Bohemian Bag workshop, which will be taught at the National Quilt Festival 2017 on 3rd and 4th July

and rustled up some flowers

Preparation for The Bohemian Bag Workshop, being taught in PE on 3rd and 4th July

I have taken the last of my paintings in for framing…

Country Road. Chalk Pastel. Sally Scott

Another Road, Another View. Chalk pastel. Sally Scott

…and I have also designed a poster for my Festival exhibition.

I will be showing a few of my recent works in a group exhibition at the National Arts Festival 2017. The exhibition opens 29th June and closes 9th July.

 

So that ticks a few things off the list and now that this blog post is written, another tab is about to be closed, but not before I invite you all to visit our exhibition at The Highlander between the 29th June and 9th July 2017.

 

Stay tuned for feedback on both the exhibition and the bag workshop. I suspect that by then a few more tabs will have opened.

 

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Summertide Exhibition

For those of my friends who will be in Grahamstown over the Christmas season, there is an exhibition worth visiting at the Festival Gallery, 38 Somerset St. The exhibition, Summertide, is now open and includes a selection of E.Cape artists work, including two of my Waterlily series.

festival gallery INFO-01

Lily #4 Size: 47cm x 35cm. Medium: Chalk Pastel

‘Nymphaea #4’ by Sally Scott. Size: 47cm x 35cm. Medium: Chalk Pastel

Please visit and enjoy!

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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.

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

 

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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.

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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.

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Recent Work

One of the best things about going away is coming home.

After a few days exploring the antique shops of Port Elizabeth, and a couple more roaming the hills of the Winterberg, I open the door of my art studio and feel my heart soar.  The break has done me good and now I stand in the doorway looking at the artwork on the wall as if I’m seeing it for the first time.  I am satisfied with the four large aloe paintings that I have been working on for the past six months. Tomorrow I must sign them and take them to the framer and then work must begin on the exhibitions I have planned for 2015.

I reach for my camera in order to record the moment.

Looking across the studio to the four recently completed commissioned artworks

Looking across the studio to the four recently completed commissioned artworks

The desert scenes in my art studio

The desert scenes in my art studio

Scenes of the Okavango Delta and the Eastern Cape

Scenes of the Okavango Delta and the Eastern Cape

Two recetly completed paintings of Asante Sana, a nature conservancy in the Eastern Cape

Two recently completed paintings of Asante Sana, a nature conservancy in the Eastern Cape. Each artwork is 60cm x 98cm

My most recent work, two aloe paintings, scenes from the area around Grahamstown

My most recent work, two aloe paintings, scenes from the area around Grahamstown. Each artwork is 60cm x 98cm

These four aloe artworks will soon be on their way to Cape Town and though I will miss their company, I am happy to know that they have found a good home.

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Festival Exhibition 2014

When I woke this morning and went out into my winter garden, I could feel it in the air. It is the mood of Grahamstown the week before the National Arts Festival. There is a peculiar calm that descends upon our little city the week before the Festival, a sense of anticipation of what is about to come. However, the stillness of this early morning reverie belies the manic activity that is going on behind the scenes in art departments and studios, theatre venues, shops, restaurants and the numerous b&b’s that are all busily preparing for the hordes to arrive. If the university is the lifeblood of this little city, then the Festival is the injection that keep us all alive. We depend upon it for our survival, both financially and culturally. There are already a few new faces in town, the technicians who have come from the big cities to create the settings for the shows. This is when the excitement begins, for a sense of new energy has arrived.

In a few days time, thousands of people will move into the city, and for a little over a week our lives will be temporarily transformed. There will be no parking, roads will be closed, and every available wall space will be plastered with posters that advertise the hundreds of exhibitions and shows. Life for normal Grahamstonians both closes down and comes alive.

Here are a few images from last year’s Festival Parade

The air is chilly, but the sun is shining and I push my feet through piles of fallen oak leaves and sit in the warmth of the sun to drink my tea, watching the birds and listening to the sounds of our sleepy city gradually coming to life. This is the calm before the storm. I’ve been keeping a low profile for the past few months, because I have been working on a large commission. I feel satisfied with the work I have produced, but as a result of this distraction, have not had time to put together a formal exhibition for the Festival. I do however have a fair selection of work available for sale, so will be having a display of these works in my art studio. If anyone should be interested to see the work, please contact me to arrange a time for viewing.

A selection of my work will be on show in my studio. Viewing by appointment only

A selection of work will be on show in my art studio during the National Arts Festival 2014. Viewing by appointment only.

Festival is always a fun time in Grahamstown and this year, it’s 40th anniversary, should really be a good one! I will keep you updated with news and images of the festivities in my next post. So, watch this space…!

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Delta & Desert Exhibition Feedback

The National Arts Festival 2013 has come and gone and the good people of Grahamstown are now in the process of recovery!

It was a great festival and though I am in a complete state of exhaustion, I am very happy that everything went off so well. Hundreds of people came through my exhibition Delta & Desert: Journeys into the Wilderness, and I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and support for my work, and thrilled to have sold as much as I did, given the tough economic climate.

The rhino have definitely benefited from the enthusiastic response I received and I am about to deposit a healthy sum of money into the Chipembere Rhino Foundation, which was raised from the sale of Harry Owen’s poetry anthology, For Rhino in a Shrinking World, as well as from the sale of numerous cards and prints of the illustrations.

So, thank you to everyone who helped to make the exhibition such a success, especially my family and friends who gave me so much support and helped in so many ways. I could never have done this without you.

For those of you who were not able to be there, here are a few photographs of the exhibition:

A view of the water lily wall

A view of the water lily wall

A view of works that were inspired by my trip to Botswana

A view of works that were inspired by my trip to Botswana

A view across the exhibition towards the Richtersveld section

A view across the exhibition towards the Richtersveld section

This view shows the Eastern Cape works

This view shows the Eastern Cape works

The rhino corner, where the rhino anthology, prints and cards were on display

The rhino corner, where the rhino anthology, prints and cards were on display

Sally in attendance at the Delta & Desert Exhibition 2013

Sally in attendance at the Delta & Desert Exhibition 2013

So that’s the festival done, now time to relax and plan where to from here.

In my next post I will be chatting about  my work In Memoriam and the presentation I gave at the LAWS Conference, that was held at Rhodes University during the National Arts Festival. Stay tuned, there’s lots more to come…!

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Delta & Desert Exhibition 2013

After months of hard work, my exhibition Delta & Desert: Journeys into the Wilderness has finally opened at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and the response has been amazing!

The exhibition is being held at the Carinus Art Centre until the 6th July 2013 and will be open daily from 9.00am – 5.00pm. For those of you who will not be here during this period, I am bringing you the highlights of my show. Enjoy!

All the colour landscapes seen here are done in chalk pastel and the black and white images are ink. The travel bags are mixed media. All works are mounted and framed.

In addition to what you see here, all the original rhino drawings that I did to illustrate For Rhino in a Shrinking World are also on show and available for sale, as well as a limited edition print run on each of these works. Harry Owen and I will be speaking about the book on Monday 1st July at the Nun’s Chapel, St.Peter’s Campus, Grahamstown at 11am, as a part of the Authors in Conversation Series for Thinkfest!, which takes place during the National Arts Festival. Please join us if you can.

I will bring you more on the exhibition in a short while, but in the meantime I must get back to taking care of the show! Please visit me if you are in the area, or contact me if you are interested in any of the work. Prices are available on request.

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Desert Wilderness

In 2002 I went with a group of geologists on an epic trip to Namibia. It was a journey like none other I had ever been on and a landscape like none other I had ever seen. Vast, desolate, and harsh in it’s aridity and isolation, I found it haunting and mesmerizing in it’s beauty. So when I received an invitation in 2011 to join my friend on another adventure to the Richtersveld, the northern most border of which adjoins southern Namibia, the temptation to go was irresistible.

From stories I had heard of the Richtersveld, it sounded like a magnificent place, though in my mind it was shrouded with an element of danger due to it’s isolation and complete lack of amenities. Unlike the previous expedition, this time we traveled alone. After three days of driving from the E.Cape diagonally across South Africa, we finally arrived on the bleak and foggy West coast, turned right at Port Nolloth and drove northwards parallel to the coast, until we reached the Orange River, which we then followed inland for a short while until after cresting a hill, below us lay the dark and ominous mountain ranges of the Richtersveld National Park. As we approached the entry gate, I had the sensation of us entering the legendary Mordor from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

The first night was spent camping on the banks of the mighty Orange River.

Entering the Richtersveld National Park

Our first night stop

Heading out into the wilderness

Heading out into the wilderness

Our first sighting of a kokerboom tree

Our first sighting of a Kokerboom (Aloe dichotoma)

A view across the Richtersveld

A view across the Richtersveld

As we traveled deeper and deeper into the maze of arid mountain ranges, the sense of isolation and our vulnerability grew. We had no cell or satellite phone contact and in the four days we were there, saw only one other group of travelers. Clearly we were on our own.

A view of the typical gradations in rock colour

A view of the typical gradations in rock colour

Desert beauty

Desert beauty

After an adventurous day of driving over narrow, rocky tracks, we finally wound our way down to Tatasberg Wilderness rest camp on the banks of the Orange River, where we had the luxury of staying in a comfortable little cabin.

Our second night in the desert was spent on the banks of the Orange River

Our second night in the desert was spent on the banks of the Orange River

After a bit of a slow start, when we found ourselves stuck in the silt, we made our way through magnificent jagged mountain valleys that led us up to the famous Kokerboomkloof, the ultimate in desert isolation eeriness. I felt like we were the only people alive on this planet, and with the nearest water supply being over 40 kms away and no form of communication with the outside world, I shuddered at the thought of us having an emergency. We were completely and utterly alone in the most splendid desert Eden. What a way to go.

Desert flower garden at the Kokerboomkloof camp site

Desert flowers at the Kokerboomkloof camp site

The Kokerboomkloof  camp area is striking in it’s scenic beauty, with magnificent rust coloured, sculptural  rock formations and trees that add to it’s primordial atmosphere.

Being at Kokerboomkloof is like being in a desert sculpture garden

Being at Kokerboomkloof is like being in a desert sculpture garden

With sentries standing watch, as we slept out in the open

With sentries standing watch, as we slept out in the open

A view across the Richtersveld

A typical view of the Richtersveld’s lunar landscape

For me, this journey was a surreal encounter with the unknown. It challenged me on many levels, and left me knowing that there is still so much about myself and this world that I don’t know. As with my trip through Namibia, it reminded me of our human fragility and our relative unimportance in the grand scheme of things, but it left me feeling so much stronger and richer for having had the experience of meeting it, if only for a short time.

The desert requires a full exhibition of it’s own, in fact a lifetime of exhibitions if I really think about it, and still I would only scratch the tiniest surface, so, in my forthcoming exhibition Delta & Desert: Journeys into the Wilderness, I have very humbly attempted to express just a tiny fraction of what I saw. I believe that this is just the beginning, and I plan to continue adding to this body of work.

The world at our feet

The world at our feet

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Delta Wilderness

With my upcoming exhibition, Delta & Desert: Journeys into the Wilderness only a few weeks away, I thought I’d take a break from the studio and bring you a little bit of background to the theme.

The wilderness is something that has always interested me, both on a literal and metaphorical level, and having been brought up in both Zimbabwe and Botswana, I have spent much of my life either living in or exploring some of the most beautiful wild places in Southern Africa.  It is no surprise, therefore that the bush and all that it entails has been a major source of inspiration for much of my work.

‘Wilderness’ is a debatable term these days, and there are times when I wonder whether it actually still exists, despairing over this over populated, over developed world, where just the thought of something unexplored gives us license to bulldoze our way in, and exploit it.

The call of a jackal in the wilderness

The call of a jackal in the wilderness

Although exploitation is rife is in Southern Africa, there are however, still places that one can go to feel a sense of the wild, and one of these places is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. This vast inland delta is situated in the north western section of the country and is approximately 18,000 sq. km’s in size. The Okavango River originates on the Benguela Plateau in S.E Angola and enters Botswana at Mohembo. After a 500 metre drop, the land levels out in Botswana, which causes the main Okavango River to divide into a number of rivers, floodplains and smaller channels, forming the Okavango Delta system. The resultant slow pace of the river allows for sedimentation and the establishment of the swampy vegetation.

As teenagers, we used to fly in and out of the delta on a regular basis as my father was a pilot and he often had work up there. We were based in Francistown, which was a relatively short distance away, and in time I will write a fuller account of this period of my life. Suffice it to say that the memory of those trips has remained deep in my psyche, and has influenced much of what I do now.

A picture of me in the Okavango Delta 1970

A picture of me in the Okavango Delta 1970

So my recent trip to Botswana was one of those rare opportunities to go and see for myself whether the playground of my youth was still as wild and untouched as I remember it. Although there were obviously changes, mainly the result of the mushrooming safari industry, overall I was not disappointed and was thrilled to be back in this unbelievable place.

A view of the Okavango Delta from the air

A view of the Okavango Delta from the air

A view of the Okavango Delta from the air

A view of the Linyanti River, part of which forms the border with Namibia

An aerial view of a section of the delta

An aerial view of a section of the delta

Hippo

Hippo

A flight over the Okavango is an exhilarating experience, to have one’s nose pressed against the plane window, as one scans the papyrus patchwork below. It is a vast and watery landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. The river and all its tributaries form a dense maze of water and floating papyrus, that creates an ever changing, ever moving scene.

Most people fly into the delta by light aircraft and land at one of the many sand airstrips that have been built to accommodate the safari industry, and the drive from the airstrip to the camps can be a great opportunity to view game, large herds of which can be seen grazing quietly amongst the long grass. The trees that grow on the islands in the delta are magnificent and vary in species according to the area.

Driving from the airstrip to our camp

Driving from the airstrip to our camp

A typical view of the papyrus vegetation

A typical view of delta vegetation

A view across the water

The view from my tent

The Okavango is home to all of Africa’s big game and a multitude of smaller mammals, fish, insects, and birds, and to lie in bed at night, listening to the sounds of the animals, grunting and swishing their way through the water, it is truly Africa at its best.

Elephant crossing the Linyanti River

Elephant crossing the Linyanti River

An egret catches a ride on the back of a buffalo

An egret catches a ride on the back of a buffalo

There is so much that one can attempt to say about the Okavango Delta, but words cannot really do justice to the experience of spending two weeks in this paradise, so in my exhibition, which is just the beginning of what I hope will become a much greater body of work, I have tried to bring the viewer close up to some of the things I saw, and to share just a whisper of the magnificent delta magic.

Another day in paradise

Another day in paradise

A few months after this trip, I had an opportunity to visit the Richtersveld, so in my next post, I will show some images of the desert.

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