more than one voice

Sunday, December 11, 2011

almost done

I'm trying not to let myself feel too guilty about neglecting my blog for such a long time. However, I have succumbed to the guilt of neglect.  In my defense I can’t remember the last time I felt this stressed out.

As mentioned before my husband and I are planning to open a book shop, as we both have full time jobs it has been a real challenge trying to juggle everything for the grand opening. 

We are almost there now and are hoping to open on Friday. Our new shop is in the lovely Natal Midlands.  Here are a few pics that Jess took using her Lomo camera of the Midlands.  I will post a full update once the shop is open. And as for ART – I’m missing my paint brushes soooo much.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

mistakes

25 November 2011



When I was younger I could be very temperamental about making mistakes.  I hated making mistakes, especially at work.  If I screwed up it would gnaw away at me, I would replay the mistake over and over again, chastising myself for being so stupid and it would spiral down into a depression of sorts.

What art has taught me, is that it is okay to make mistakes that you can approach a blank canvas and begin something and if it doesn’t work out you can start again. Art has taught me that it is okay to be vulnerable, that it is fine if you don’t get it right the first time. I have also learnt that it is through making mistakes that you improve, you learn, you retry and you eventually get it right.  Sometimes the end result is completely different from the initial intended idea, but that’s okay. In art there really are no mistakes, just learning opportunities.

I still don’t like to make mistakes, who does, but I have learnt that mistakes are part of life, you can’t help but make them.  I understand now that when I make a mistake it is not who I am, one mistake does not define me.  I think that art has helped me to understand life better – to see life through art tinted glasses, it has helped me to be kinder to myself, and to be more accepting.  

impatient


pictures and magnets - using my art -
this has been such fun
getting ready for our new project

Life feels frantic, rushed - there's too much to do - not enough time.  I feel myself getting impatient.  I dread the drive to work each morning, sitting in long lines of traffic with other impatient drivers.


My office chair feels like a dentists chair - sitting behind a computer all day is like getting root canal treatment. 


But then at the end of the day I enter my studio and all the frustrations melt away.  I become focused, centered, I begin my practice - my practice of creating.  It is where I begin to feel my soul again, where my soul can peak through the heavy fabric of everyday life and whisper to me, gentle messages of hope,of  kindness and most of all - purpose.


she felt tired, but was determined to push through to make her dreams come true




Monday, November 14, 2011

being brave

15/11/2011




Today my first born Jess, is 20. This year has been a difficult one for Jess. She has been faced with lots of challenges, yet she has preserved and become stronger despite them all.  She has been brave and learnt to sit with those things that are uncomfortable.  It has not been easy to see her battle, to see her being hurt and the urge to jump in and save her has at times been over whelming.  We have tired to be gentle with her, to offer her comfort by listening to her and trying to understand where she is at. 

She has been courageous enough to use the hurt and pain that she has experienced to dive down into those places that even as an adult (I guess she is an adult now) we find difficult to go.  I am amazed at the insights she has gained, she has done some hard work this year.  She has learnt to sit with the uncomfortable, to look at her shadow and not be afraid.  My girl is strong,resolute and full of courage. You go girl - you are amazing!

Happy 20th birthday - Jess! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

missing out





I was having a conversation with a special friend the other day, discussing all our dreams and things we would love to do.  We asked ourselves the big question, what keeps us from achieving our dreams?

I was thinking about our conversation later that day and I released that it was fear, no big ah ha moment there.  But what the big wow turned out to be – was when I identified that part of my fear included - fear of missing out.

What I mean by this is that I’m often so busy searching for the right dream.  I’m scared that if I settle for just one dream that I might miss out on a better dream. I become frantic; I switch and change my mind, shift gears, begin things and don’t finish them, one big dream after another. The problem is that I’m so focused on not missing out that I actual don’t ever really just do, I don’t fully engage with any one thing.  It's not surprising that I don’t ever achieve my dreams and goals, because I have so many and I change them all the time, in my manic attempt not to miss out on anything.


I guess I need to start by appreciating all the good stuff I have, to live more in the present and stop jumping into hundreds of alternative realities. I need to make a reasonable list of goals and dreams, and start sticking to things, get a bit of glue on my soul.

I’m just really relieved that I didn’t carry this particular fear into my marriage!

Col - busy working on fittings for the shop


it's been extremely hot today - so I thought I would send all my friends in the northern hempishere some summer flowers

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I did it!

perhaps my imagination will help me to become brave, she thought - (it had always helped her in the past)


I finally did it – I started art classes!  For a long time I’ve wanted to explore more formal training, learn how to draw, learn the ‘correct’ way to do things but to be honest I was scared.  There was always the chance that I really sucked at drawing and you know what they say about an old dog.

A few weeks ago I gathered all my courage and started art classes.  I’m really glad that I did - it’s pushing me to explore different techniques, to be brave, to not doubt myself quiet so much.  I’m still a bit nervous. I think I suffer from performance anxiety but I’m getting better each week.


still life - Zulu beer pot, pear and egg

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ticking off boxes



My husband has a saying – ‘just need to tick off a few more boxes’.  He’s always making long lists of things that he has to do, and somehow he never seems to finish ticking off his boxes.  I think it’s the mental lists that get him the most, those lists that include – give the girls a good education, get them through university and settled into a decent life,  lists that seem to want to hurry along time.  His boxes stress him out, I think it’s the never ending lists of things he feels he has to do, I call them his duty lists.

Recently, I seem to be copying him and I have my own list of boxes that need to be ticked off.  We are opening a book shop in December, which is very exciting but also very stressful.  We both have full-time jobs and trying to fit it all in is creating more and more boxes.  My husband has been selling books since he was a student.  He scours charity shops and auctions for books that he buys, restores and sells at a local farmers market – his slogan is ‘fresh produce for the mind’.  He specialises in South African historical books – called Africaner, books filled with stories about the early settlers, Zulu wars and fascinating African mythology.
making magnets  
making pictures 
Product development - not as easy as it looks

The shop is about 40 minutes outside of our town – along a beautiful route of farms and interesting little shops and restaurants, called the Midlands Meander.  I’m hoping to put my art in the shop as the whole setting lends itself perfectly to arty things. My hope is that I will be able to supplement my income with my art and be able to work mornings only, giving myself more time to spend on art. (It would be a real dream come true if I could spend ALL my time on art – but I won’t be greedy).

So my dear bloggy friends, if I have been a little quiet it’s because I’m trying to tick off all my boxes, not to mention trying to fit all the boxes of books into my house.  
just some of the boxes of books that are waiting to be priced and coded (and then ticked off)

I'm having problems leaving comments at some blogs again.  Does anyone know why this is happening?  It's a bit frustrating when you write a long comment and it disappears into the ether.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

shrines

what sacred spaces do you have in your home, she asked with a curious smile

I remember sitting in church as a child, fixated by the altar and the statues, mesmerised by the flickering candles.  Back then children played what we saw and experienced, so I made altars and played church. My altars where decorated with artefacts that I found around my house, ordinary objects that took on new meaning,  glass vases filled with huge dahlias, an old yellow chenille bedspread – the altar cloth, and stumpy candles gave the finishing touches. 

Looking around my house the other day, I realised that I still have altars of sorts, but now I like to think of them as shrines or sacred spaces.  My shrines are arrangements of talismans, and mementos, sacred souvenirs and pictures, objects that are meaningful to me, that remind me of things I don’t want to forget.  Cherished pictures of my children, art that they have made, stones that they have given me, displayed on bookcases and shelves.  I sometimes think that I would love a home decorated in ‘magazine’ style, uncluttered, free of dust catchers, but my displays evoke emotions inside me that are more important then having a neatly decorated house.

I have a little stuffed rabbit sitting on a shelf in my bedroom. My mom gave me the rabbit when I was writing my matric exams, he was smuggled into many more exams after that and saw me through university. Next to him sits a beautiful pottery church that I bought at an art show many years ago, it reminds me of the spiritual journeys I’ve been on.

I guess I should have picked up Noddy for the photo


I read recently in a book on shrines and altars, that to create a shrine, no matter how simply, is to make art.  I like that idea, that my sacred displays are in fact art, created to represent my life, a way to pay homage to my life experiences, to remember occasions and events that have shaped my life. They are I suppose a visible representation of those invisible aspects of my life that I want to remember, just like art they tell a story. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

being alone


The art making process can be a solitary affair and sometimes I feel lonely. I have often wondered about loneliness as it seems to be something that many people battle with. I have wondered if contact with others really does take away loneliness.

I remember when I was working in London, completely and utterly alone, I knew no one, and yet I didn’t feel lonely.  It was a time in my life when I remembered with perfect clarity to live in the present moment, to watch life, to observe myself with no expectations, with no distractions.  I still remember in detail the walks I took, the wind on my face as I looked at how the leaves on the trees responded to the same wind, I had no need to explain life to myself; it just was what it was.

I think that when we face life moment by moment as it presents itself then we are happy with what is, happy to be alone, we don’t need to constantly seek out others, if they are there that is great, but it is also fine to be alone.  I find that when I forget this way of being that is when the loneliness creeps in, and becomes the distraction. I forget that solitude can be a gift, something that is a necessity, I forget to breathe in stillness, to let silence wrap around my shoulders, and to feel its comfort. People can fill the space and there is nothing better than spending an afternoon laughing with a special friend but we also need silence, quiet time to fill up our souls .



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

playing

she realised that it was never too late to have a happy childhood

When I was a child I remember how much I loved to play. I used to play really hard, no matter what I was playing with.  I was in love with playing. 

I remember digging in the big bank behind our house, carving roads and towns out of the sandstone.  I had little cars that travelled on my roads, I can remember it so well, I can almost feel the red sand making my hands all dirty, and see the veins in the stones as I carved out my cities.  I must have been about five or six when this game consumed my days. Long hot summers spent sitting in the dirt making my towns, picking flowers from my mom’s garden to decorate my houses.  When I got bored of this miniature world and of my own company, I made larger camps in the veld, with the other kids in the neighbourhood. In those days, it was safe to venture beyond the confirms of our garden.  We made camps and played on the ant hills; sometimes we were naughty and would break open the ant hills to see inside, the intricate tunnels fascinated us.

When I was about eleven I remember thinking that soon I would be too old to play, and I would have to pack all my toys away, and grow up.  I didn’t like this thought at all, I remember feeling like time was running out, that I had to get in as much playing as I could, I felt panic.  Looking back, it is quiet a strange thing for a child to think, but then again I was a serious ‘player’.

I wish I could have told that little girl that her days of playing were not fading away, that she might have to grow up but she could always play. I swopped my dolls and cars for paint and clay and fabric, and continued to play, to loose myself in imagination, and fantasy.  I think we all need this in our lives, just because we are all grown up doesn’t mean that we don’t still need to play.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

becoming a shape shifter

she had been sitting there all day - slowly she realised that nothing great was ever created suddenly

Part of my frustration with trying to be an artist is that I feel I am too tight, too rigid. I feel that I hold back when I should learn to let go.  My art is sometimes stiff and doesn’t flow as I would like it to.  I seem to put too many restrictions on myself.

I love the work of artists who seem to create effortless work, work that feels fluid, where the motion and energy is almost tangible.  I would like to explore what this means, to try and unpack this strange feeling, a feeling that I need to become more fluid.  It feels as if I need to escape the confines of my body, of my skin and bones, and somehow learn to be less of a fixed shape. Perhaps, I need to explore what it means to be a shape shifter.  I would like to explore the shape and form of things around me, learning how to take on the contour of things, fitting into new skin and then letting it go again. I would like to learn how to transform, how to be in a state of constant metamorphosis, reaching into new states.

I see water in my dreams and I try to understand the meaning of this symbol. A liquid takes the shape of whatever it encounters, yet it remains a separate entity. Perhaps this is part of developing an artist’s mind, to be in constant liquefied motion.  I would like to squeeze into different spaces and consider the possibility of the existence of magic, as I become that shape for awhile.

Learning to be less rigid, to understand transformation, to not hold to fixed ideas and positions but be more open to other possibilities.  I suppose, what I’m ultimately seeking is unrestricted freedom to throw myself into this wonderful creative life that I want to life.

K A T I E

Katie at her recent market day - selling door hangers
She had a really good day and almost sold out
Working hard making stock for market day - she really wanted to do well as her dad is her EMS teacher.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I care what people think

on mondays i'm not going to mind what i wear - she said with gleeful abandon

A few weeks ago, I took the wrong t-shirt to gym.  I only realised when all the fatty bits popped out, spilling over like white bread dough.  I sat on the exercise bike and laughed with my fellow gym ladies about the perils of wearing tight t-shirts. We came to the conclusion that although we wished we didn’t - we actual did care what people thought of us when we walk out into the world.

This bothered me for awhile, but I think I know what we meant that day.  We had arrived at an age or an understanding when we could be honest with ourselves. Part of that honesty was admitting in front of others, that yes we did care what people thought, that we didn’t want people to think we looked weird or funny.  I’m not sure I could have been that honest as a young girl.  I don’t think I could have admitted that I cared what others thought.   So, perhaps in that honesty there was a certain amount of freedom, a certain fitting into my skin a little better, I was able to be comfortable with this aspect of myself, to publicly acknowledge the inside insecurities, to let them all hang out.  Yes, it felt good to be honest – sometimes I do care what people think!


 

Friday, September 9, 2011

stories to tell


Works of art often tell stories, looking at an art work can be like reading a novel. The art has its own unique narrative to tell, powerful images create a story.  The artist paints their words in colour and texture, making marks and lines, creating depth and emotion with paint.  The composition of the art work subtly tells the tale. The unspoken story is revealed, to each viewer it is different, emotions are complex and unique, open to interpretation.

Some art seems to tell better stories, just like a well written book. Some authors are more experienced, better educated, can play with words and create prose that paints images.   When I look at my own art with a critical eye, I sometimes battle to see the story. I seem to be too caught up in getting the technique right, in learning how to paint and I forget to tell a story, I feel my lack of education. 

I was contemplating all this the other night while sitting in the bath, (don’t the greatest insights always occur in the bath).  Suddenly, I realised that the very process of creating an art work tells a tale, the fact that I chose to paint, that I want to learn to paint, that I endeavour to pursue this need to make art, tells a story.  The materials I chose to use, the colours I use, the sweet little faces I seem to need to paint, they all tell a story.  Some stories are dramas, and some are romantic comedies with sweet innocent characters.  What I realised is that there are so many stories to tell and so many stories to unravel and enjoy.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

spring cleaning

time for a spring cleaning


With the warmer weather, the new leaves on the trees and all the pretty buds I was inspired to 'fixed' my bedroom up a bit.  I repainted a little cupboard, and decorated it with some mixed media backgrounds, fixed up an old box that I use to store all the girls school reports and artworks in.

mixed media backgrounds - not just for paintings
wish I had a better camera - but you get the idea


I painted an old frame and put one of my favorite paintings inside it.  I was really happy with the results, and now have a very pretty bedroom to see in the long hot summer, that lies ahead.



now - the rest of the house awaits

Monday, August 29, 2011

Change - in season

was change really so hard, she wondered out loud

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching a tree outside my bedroom window slowing get its new leaves, changing from a bare silhouette, into a mass of soft green leaves.  The weather is warm, and it gives a hint of the long hot summer ahead. Watching this new growth has made me contemplate change, what it means to me, how there is no escaping change. Just like that tree, changing, growing new leaves, we constantly experience change in our lives, times of growth, times of stagnation, times of joy and times of pain.

Although, life mostly seems pretty unpredictable, change is the one constant.  I don’t know too many people that don’t find change stressful, even the good changes in life can prove a challenge.  Inevitable, sooner rather than later one is faced with some sort of change.

My husband was saying just the other day how much he is battling with the changes in our children.  The changes aren’t bad; we are blessed with wonderful children, who are growing into fine people, we are very proud of them.  Just thinking about the day when they will leave home is sad, we have both enjoyed the day-to-day job of being parents.

When I look at my parents and see the wrinkles now etched on their faces or hear about their health problems, I realise that soon that phase of my life will change forever. 

I’ve always enjoyed new challenges and have prided myself on being quiet adaptable – but lately the changes that seem to loom do not seem to be easy ones.  I’m just glad that I have a bit of life experience to get me through them, to be able to step into this new season of life.

the smell of the jasmine - was intoxicating

Today I turn 45, another change - Finally, I think i'm okay with being in the 40's, my skin is fitting a lot better than it did a few years ago and its not just the filling it out better part either, getting older doesn't seem to be so bad after all. 
this was waiting for me on my arrival home from work - my husband had made me an easle out of an old door frame he salvage from the rubbish damp - I'm feeling better damn lucky right now. Oh, if you look carefully behind the easle you can see the cupboard he made for me - out of old facade boards he picked up outside a house that was under going renovations.

Here is a link to a story about the organisation that I work for - 

Women in a savings group - photo credit SaveAct

Friday, August 12, 2011

a gift for my soul


these ladies just arrived - rather suddenly

Lately I have been feeling sad.  I have heard too many sad stories, been reminded of how fragile and delicate life can be.  Life, for the time being has lost its robust character and my mood has followed.  My natural inclination has been to avoid this feeling, to escape it, to resist its incursion into my life – to distract myself from allowing this mood to invade my soul.



But something tells me to rather stay with it, see where it takes me.  As Thomas Moore says in the Care of the Soul – ‘some feelings and thoughts seem to emerge only in a dark mood. Suppress the mood and you will suppress those ideas and reflections.’  Rather than being afraid of the mood he encourages the reader to move into the darker shades of what it has to offer. The soul is then able to express itself in a different way.  In this place there are lessons to be learnt, new understands, new ways of seeing things.   I’m trying to be brave to embrace this melancholy and see what it has to teach me.  I think we are too afraid of embracing these darker feelings, we have been conditioned in our modern world to see them as undesirable, yet they have gifts to bring our souls.

I have found that this pensive mood has made me look back and observe my life in different hues, the colours are more muted.  I feel an urgency not to waste anymore time, I feel something pulling me forward, encouraging me to be braver, to explore, to not resist life but to rather flow with it.  I suppose in essence it is my own mortality that I am being forced to consider. 
but i'm glad they did - I hope they stick around for awhile

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a feast for the eyes

Today was Womens Day, which meant that I got the day off work - yah.  Jess and I decided to go for a drive to the 'Midlands', and visit some of the interesting  places along the route.  For a long time I've wanted to visit a ceramic studio - called Ardmore. 

Here are some pictures of the work that the studio produces - enjoy the feast.

Ceramic vase - photo credit
Each piece is painted with fine detail

some of the pieces are a little frightening - filled with Zulu folklore

and some pieces are a little graphic - no subject in taboo
newly scultured piece - family riding on a hippo



the artists didn't mind us chatting or taking photos - we were amazed at the simple tools they used to scult their pieces.

once the pieces are made - they are given to different artists to paint.



Oh wow - what a place, the work is absolutely amazing. What a feast for the eyes and soul. Here is a link to Ardmore Ceramics. It has a fasinating story and the work is incredible.  The founder of Ardmore, was in the gallery and pointed out special and unique pieces to us.  We also got to meet some of the artists and talk to them about their art.  Jess and I both decided we are definetly going to make this one of our favorite places to visit.  There is too much to take in on a first visit and I think several visits are needed.

Bonnie Ntshalintshali Museum photo credit

The museum is dedicated to the very first Ardmore artist - who sadly died of AIDS - much of the work addresses this issue