Change seems to be in. On the weather side we have had loads of fantastic
rain and the garden has transformed into green paradise, at the moment
just about everything that can flower is flowering and the birds and frogs are
as close as they can get to amphibian and avian heaven. The lightening
storms have been spectacular and have included some green lightening
(eye witnessed by Maru, Simon and Mark), promise it is not due to all the
home grown veggies we are eating!
Judith's retrospective exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery in
Johannesburg has been a huge success. The opening was massive (about
seven hundred people) and the subsequent walkabouts were also in
demand with about two hundred people turning up. Seeing her work
together in same space, spanning just slightly more than their lives was
quite something for Tamar and Petra (who flew in from NYC with her
husband Ausbert). It was amazing to see visual aspects of one's childhood
all beautifully curated and lined up on a wall. It was also an incredible
experience for Simon and Maru to see part of what their Ouma has created.
Politics has changed and has started to get interesting again. We are much
relieved at the exit of Mbeki and Dr Beetroot and hope that South African will
use their brains and not other parts of their anatomies when they go to the
polls next year. Msholozi is the name given to an illegal settlement (plots
being sold for R 50 each) over the hill from us. This is not what we want
from the next government and yet we are skating rather close… hopefully
COPE (one rather hopes that political parties in a thriving democracy do
more than just cope) will be able to set us on a course of having a real
opposition to keep the ruling party in line. The madness that has led
America seems to have also changed. Lets hope that Obama can lead his
country away from the political and environmental mess that it is in. It was a
close call; a moose killer with a fragile grasp of geography would have been
worrying to have in the White House.
The crime in our valley seems to have calmed down (for the meanwhile)
and the police have shown that they are up to national standards by being
totally incompetent. The only arrest that was made in a spate of robberies
lasting five months was when a woman spotted her stolen quad bike on the
back of a bakkie, she then called her husband who was able to intercept the
bakkie and arrest the occupants of the bakkie with a ... paintball gun. We
have just finished reading Johnny Steinberg's book about the South African
police titled 'Thin Blue", his analysis is succinct and well worth reading.
And the rand is rapidly turning into small change. Following the trends of the
rest of the economy the art market has also taken it's knock, although one
would not think so with Damien Hirst's auction. Like the housing market the
international art market has been a bit loopy over the last few years. We are
most relieved to have just paid off the bond on our property, when we bought
six years ago, our neighbours thought that we were mad paying what we did
for our property, now you would be hard pressed to buy an apartment in
White River for that amount.
We are also pleased that we have been able to continue to publish work by such fine artists. Since we last wrote we have launched a number of stunning prints by the following artists:
Judith Mason, Sam Nhlengethwa, Robert Hodgins, and
Anton Kannemeyer. We are ending the year with Helen Sebidi in the studio (it
has been a while, she started work on a print about fourteen years ago
which we still have to complete….).
Mark has set up a book binding division (in the upstairs storeroom) for the
studio and with the help of a book Leshoka bought in the USA has
fashioned a plow and a lying press out of old printing equipment and
some superwood. The first edition to be bound on the new equipment is a
beautiful book by William Kentridge, based on a flip book and titled
"Breathe". It has been suggested what we could go into passport forgery if
the economy really goes sideways. Mark has perfected that old embossed
printed on fabric text thing.
In October we got the sad news that Coex'ae (Dada) Qgam had died of
cancer. Tamar worked with Dada at the Kuru Art Project in Botswana and
subsequently on various projects, including
Qauqaua . She was one of the Kuru artists that
Mark accompanied to work at Tamarind in the USA in 1997. We will miss
her wicked sense of humour, vision and tenacity.
On the environmental front, shopping in a ordinary supermarket continues to
be more and more of a challenge as we keep deleting non-local,
processed, heavily packaged and not organic off our shopping list. We are
mostly vegetarian now (every now and then a craving for boerewors,
sheshebo and pap gets too much and we cave in) eating meat about once
every ten days. And we feel much better for it (as does the wallet, 20 lamb
chops cost nearly R 200 at the butcher a few days ago). Reading, "Eat your
Heart Out" by Felicity Lawrence (Penguin) has taken Simba chips off the list
for us as well as cereal (studies show that mice fed the cereal box plus
milk, sugar and few raisins actually did better than those fed the cereal,
milk, sugar and a few raisins). Farewell coco pops and niknaks.
Our shopping trolley is not the only thing changing; our cleaning cupboard is
also looking a bit different. We have replaced bleach and Handy Andy etc
with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda for household cleaning (if you want
recipes let us know and we will email them to you). After a few months of
this regime (get the mix right, Tamar never did chemistry and was surprised
the first time she tossed the bicarb and vinegar together….) our house is as
clean as ever. Bicarb also replaces fabric softener brilliantly. A quarter of a cup added
to the final rinse means fabrics are easy to iron and do not have that horrid
synthetic perfume. Now to find something that works really works to replace
Body care has also come under the green spotlight and here it is easy to go
green, be healthier and support our local economy. Toothpaste has been
the hardest adjustment (Colgate is just so lekker!) but we have are hardcore
so have switched to Enchantrix peppermint toothpaste, we think it is better
than their fennel and clove variety. For soap, moisturiser, shampoo, body
butter etc we have switched to using the Victorian garden range (local, petro-
chemical, paraben etc free with organic ingredients also) and a pleasure to
The Victorian Garden
Seeing as we are pushing all these brands we have also read a fantastic
book called "Bonfire of the Brands" by Neil Boorman, with true Brit humour
he tears his obsession with brands apart. Buy it; it is an excellent antidote to
the Christmas consumer frenzy.
Viva change! Lets just hope it is for the better.
With best wishes for a slow, local and peaceful holiday season.
Mark and Tamar.