more than one voice

Sunday, May 29, 2011


These are the amazing ladies i work with - Didi (soon to be a new mom again), me, Nolufefe, Fisani (in a traditional Zulu outfit), and Sibongile

Recently the organisation I work for had a graduation day at one of the rural communities where we work.  The organisation, trains mostly rural women in savings and credit groups, the model is more successful than most micro finance models used in developing countries as the groups generate their own funds to loan out.

The community hall where the event took place is about 40 minutes from town, the winding road that leads there takes you into a different world.  As I was sitting in the dusty hall, with broken windows listening to the whine of the generator supplying electricity, I took out my notebook and did some sketching and writing.   Outside I could see cows and goats walking around, in between the crudely constructed homesteads. The majority of the houses are painted bright colors; turquoise blue and bright green - inspiration for new art making? 

Some of the ladies attending the ceremony wore their traditional Zulu outfits, lovely beaded aprons, beaded shoes and hats, they are very creative.  Many of the gogos (granny in Zulu) – had babies on their backs, their moms where either at school or sadly have passed away.  The singing – there is nothing like it – it lifts your spirits, makes your soul soar and gets the feet tapping. Although these people don’t have much the community spirit is wonderful, they care for each other despite the hardships that they face and they live in the most beautiful place, on top of a mountain that looks over the valley of 1000 hills.

Photo taken from - panoramio
The Valley of 1000 Hills

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Showcase

Denni from Harvest Moon asked me if she could showcase my work on her blog - wow - what an honour - hope i'm allowed to brag.  Please check out her blog i love what she has been writing about getting organised to make art, and allowing ourselves the time to create - without all the guilt that often goes with doing something for ourselves.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


was time making a fool of her again?

Time intrigues me.  I find time a mystery, it can be hard to define, and seem almost intangible. I’ve tried to look for the moments between time, I’ve tried to recapture time or make time go faster or slow it down.  I’ve ponder questions such as: what is time, what causes time, is time memory and does our mind create time?

Aristotle believed that time was motion, Einstein understood that time may be open to change and Salvador Dalí, created a painting titled ‘The Persistence Memory” in which he explored aspects of time. Time has been used as a measure not just of past, present and future but of motion, and even how much one should earn depending on the number of hours you work.

When I think I have a grasp on time then it seems to march on and leave me scratching my head again.  I wonder about time in space, lost time, future time, wasted time, time well spent and then in no time at all I’m completely lost again.

can you see time?

quilt - exploring a moment in time
as we tell our stories


wearing time

Monday, May 23, 2011

sunday drive

she looked out and began to see the world as it always was and it made her happy
Photo - of Jess looking out at the Drakensberg mountains taken by Barry

On Sunday we took a drive to the beautiful Midlands of Kwa Zulu Natal, which is about a half hour drive from where we live.  The countryside is not typical African, its soft undulating hills, grass farmlands and mirror like dams.  My daughter was speaking to us, telling us of her plans for her future, sharing her dreams and insights into life.  I was surprised by her youthful wisdom, her understanding of life, her ability to grapple with difficult topics in a simple way. She spoke about happiness and what it meant to her, that she was beginning to understand that it wasn’t 'things' that make a person happy, but living each moment, finding joy in the simple presence of being aware that one can find joy.

What makes this conversation special is the fact that she has been battling with erratic moods and depression.  She has handled this difficult and sad time of her life in a very pragmatic way. She has asked for help, and received it and done her part to understand what is happening to her.  It has been hard to watch my child suffer, but i saw yesterday that she will be fine, that she will make her way through this dark night and be able to step into bright sunshine. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011


she held the seed of an idea in her heart

Art making is a wonderful process, it gets my heart beating quicker and fills my mind with good thoughts.  I love the act of turning something into something else, creating something new, bringing something into being. A pile of fabric becomes a unique bag or a few pots of paint and an old piece of wood become a painting.  Art making is like alchemy, we turn things into other things, we transform, reinvent, change, we become art magicians as we find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

it's all good

she waited for a long time before she could let the butterflies go

When i was deciding if i should be brave and show my art to the whole wide world, i wondered if i had it or not.  You know talent, ability or did i stink?  Then i thought about that awhile, and pondered what ‘bad’ art actually is? What i realized is that there is no bad art; all efforts need to be treated as learning, its essential to growth, without the effort, the trying, how does anyone achieve anything? i realized that i have to be patience with myself, talent is gained. Slowly step by step, techniques are learnt, goals are achieved, and dreams are realized, how then can any of it be bad?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

sunday art

i love seeing how people work - how they make their art, so thought i'd share my sunday art

completed painting

Saturday, May 14, 2011

inside art

without art i may have lost myself a long time ago, she said with a sigh

Trying to define what it means to be creative is not easy.  When i looked around for a definition, i got many different answers. Some where definitions given by psychologists, some given by business coaches and some were the definitions given by artists.  Each had their own way of describing what it means to be creative.

Trying to put into words something that is integral to who i am, is almost impossible, how does one describe the expression of their inner most self.  I think for me the process of the creative journey is not about the definition as much as it is about the process helping me to define myself. It’s the way i try to unravel what is inside, what is hidden and unknown to me, its how i give visual expression to my inside world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

out there

she was off on another adventure and was glad that she wasn’t alone this time

This is going to sound very peculiar – but i really thought i was the only person who thought like i did. Seriously.  I thought that perhaps it was a pathology, not quiet normal, but i didn’t mind, i quiet liked the fact that i was 'different'.

I’ve been blog hopping – visiting here and there, mostly the more ‘famous’ blogs, as my fourteen year old would say.  I thought about starting my own blog but was unsure, how do i begin, but then again have i ever known how to begin?  Eventually, i got the courage, sat down a few Sundays ago and took the plunge and just began, it wasn’t too tough to do.  

What a revelation, its as if a whole new dimension has opened up, i’m reading the most incredible blogs, discovering people that think just like i do!!! Seriously.  I’m so excited by this world that is unfolding, the discoveries i’m making, it makes me feel like a treasure hunter.  I’m discovering the most marvelous treasures, peoples’ art and words are like bright dazzling jewels, the energy of peoples’ creativity is uplifting, powerful, dynamic – live changing – and hooray i’m not alone!!!!
packing for an adventure

Sunday, May 8, 2011

making art speak

she needs our support

I was drawn to a book because of the artists beautiful work, but when I began to read about the artist’s life it got me thinking about what art can do.  The artist I was reading about was William Morris, he lived from 1834 – 1896 in England.  He was a very prolific artist; he made furniture, designed the most stunning wall paper, fabric and painted.  

Towards the end of his life he began to use his art towards a commitment to change society.  Capitalism was in full swing, with the wealthy industrialists explicating the poor working classes, machines where taking over everything, and often the result was suffering for those on whose backs the growth was being made. Sound familiar?

It’s wonderful to make pretty art, cute little pictures that make us feel all fuzzy and warm inside, but we live in a world that needs us to be critical, to look at what is happening around us.  I want my children to have a reasonable world to live in, we don’t have the privilege of silence on certain matters, we have to speak up, and as artists we can use our art to speak up for us.  

she decided to be brave and think about the future

Saturday, May 7, 2011

mother love

I love being a mother – it beats everything hands down.  It’s the best job in the world nothing comes close. It’s not always easy, but I love being a mom. I wrote this letter to my children last Mothers’ day.

my girls


and now

When I look upon your faces I only see beauty and will love you forever.  The closest that we will ever get to unconditional love, to a wholesome pure love, is the love a parent has for their child.  My love for you embraces you with arms that want to hold you tight forever, but as you grow up I will try to open my arms and let you slowly go.

I think if we could try and love each other like this, then we could have a more understanding and gentle world.  You my sweet dear children have taught me a great deal about life and loving.  It is through you that I learnt to be more patient and tender.  From the first moment that I laid eyes upon your little red swollen faces, I understood better what it means to love.  Thank you for all the lessons that you have taught me, it has been a pleasure and privilege to be your mother.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the difficulty of belonging

my mom

As Mothers day approaches, i’ve been thinking about my mom.  She left yesterday to visit her sisters in the UK.  They are getting on in years and have had health problems, she worries that she is far away from them.  She has always been fearful about being far away from her family of origin, although I’m not too sure if she realizes how fearful she has been.  Living in her adopted country where family, ancestors and origin is everything has been difficult for her. Its been hard for her to live with her roots above ground, exposed to the harsh elements, feeling often like she lacks an anchor. 

We need to feel we belong, we need to be able to stake our claim to families, to communities,and to the countries we live in. We don’t need to hold on too tight but we need to feel that we have something to lightly hold. For a long time I wondered if I belonged in my birth country, was I not perhaps more European, did I really belong in Africa? Working in the UK as a carer in 2007 and 2008, cured me of feeling like I don’t belong in my birth country.  Finally I was able to say with pride and absolute conviction - I am African. My mom also worked as a carer in the UK around the same time as I did and when she got back she know for the first time in 40 years where she truly belonged. She belonged where her heart was and it was in Africa.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

staring at my world

she put on her rose tinted glasses and began to see her world as it was 

I have a sense that the world has shifted, moved, is different somehow.  I can’t really explain, I know it sounds weird but thats how it feels.  It feels more serious, fragile yet brave and resolute all at the same time.  We have to face reality; we have to be courageous to look at what we are doing to each other, to our planet, we have to challenge ourselves to find new ways of seeing. I have been trying to look, really look from all angles, at how I live my life. I’m trying to not just glance at life, but to stare at it, to try and comprehend this newness that I’m feeling.  Maybe it’s just me because I feel more fragile and brave, I don’t know – I suppose when you start to see yourself differently the whole world begins to look different.

Monday, May 2, 2011

creative entrepreneur

i might look calm - but inside my head there is a really messy art room, she said with a tranquil smile

I’m having a blast with creating at the moment – but it’s also hard work and i sense that i have to put in the effort if i want to live a creative life, to realize my dreams and goals.  

It’s not just the art works that i need to work on but also the business plan.  Although i want to step out of the formal world and make most of my own rules, i will still be operating within that some world.

Some of the rules will have to stay, the basics – like having a business plan, a budget and keeping good records.  I like the idea of having me being the business – rather than ‘having’ a business.  Because i create – the creativity is the business and that happens to be me.  I suppose it works slightly differently from having a tangible business, yet at the same time it can’t be nebulous.  I suppose it’s a bit like being a social entrepreneur – instead I’m a creative entrepreneur.  This idea needs further development and some more thought, but it’s a start.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Taking action

she had been sitting there all day, thinking about doing something – was she having an 'action crisis'?

My journals are filled with wonderful creative ideas. Lists of things that I would love to do, but the problem is that sometimes i forget that i have to act upon my ideas. Without action, without the ‘actor’ there is no story, no movement forward. When you have answered the call to embrace your creativity, to try and life a more inspired life you also have to be prepared to show-up. I’m a dreamer, i like to sit and gaze out the window and think, which is fine to do for part of the day – but not all of the day.  You have to begin doing, become part of the process, the end product is not as important as the doing.

she had been sitting thinking - and said to herself the delight comes in the doing not in the results