Warm greetings from a totally overheated Lowveld, even Tamar's enthusiasm for sub-tropical temperatures is being tested at the moment. The heat and the good rains that we had before the new year mean that the garden has gone crazy (swear you can hear the plants creaking as they grow), last week we had a Working for Water contractor here with his team of sixteen alien experts. They cleared the blue gum saplings, wild rose, bamboo in the bottom vlei, bugweed, lantana etc, so our plan to get our bit of veld and the wetland back into shape is inching along. Our garden service gang come every second week and Kota's keen landscaping eye is really transforming the garden into some kind of order. Mark's therapy in the vegetable garden continues and he has branched out into planting turmeric and asparagus. After many anxious months, his parcel of artichoke seeds arrived and we are all (including Maru and Simon) looking forward to the spring harvest. The kids pack artichokes for their school lunches, which they then eat in front of their admiring friends like true connoisseurs!!
Maru started Grade One this year. She looks too adorable in her neatly ironed blue shorts, shirt with cap sleeves and little white socks (the tops of the socks almost meet the bottom of her shorts). After great expectations over the Christmas holidays Grade One turned out to be very noisy, the boys are pests and the teacher is not strict enough for her liking. However, as the term progresses the situation does seem to be improving. Simon is now in senior primary and loves it. The subjects are getting more interesting and at last, he has started to learn Siswati (which means that the rest of the family is learning as well as he is very enthusiastic about sharing his new found skills). Afrikaans classes have also begun and he is fascinated by how many of the words share roots with English. On the sports front, he is putting his long spindly body to use and is enjoying long distance running and wishes that it were winter so that he can play soccer rather than cricket which bores him! Simon at nine and a half now has longer feet than Tamar (it's almost an injustice!!)
Over the festive season, a two-metre-long python started to indulge in our chickens and although most welcome on the property the loss of two hens and three chicks was starting to threaten the viability of our flock. The solution has been to build a new python proof hok which is something of a chicken palace, complete with a copper rooster cut out of an old geyser. Hopefully, the python will turn to the rat population instead.
In the studio things have been rather quiet on the artists front, we have been catching up with editioning and are almost over the backlog. Joseph and Jacky are finishing off Claudette Schreuder's new series "The Long Day", take a quick trip to New York via the web and visit her exhibition, which is on at Jack Shainman's Chelsea Gallery.
In September last year, we had the privilege of working with Albert Adams. Sadly Albert died from lung cancer in January this year. It was special to share some time with such a gentle, wise and humble man. His life story is a fabulous one and his work is very powerful. There is talk of an exhibition of his work for South Africa and we look forward to seeing the show of one South Africa's "missed artists". Albert spent most of his life in the UK, having left the country in the early 1950's when his family started to be persecuted by the Apartheid State. We will not be publishing his work and have sent the approvals to print to his partner to add to the collection of his work.
In the next few weeks, we will be launching Hanneke Benadé's prints that she did at the beginning of last year as well as some by Conrad Botes. Newly up on the website are prints by Anton Kannemeyer and Robert Hodgins.
We have taken to spending sweltering weekends having picnics at the blissfully cool waterfalls of the Sabie area, highly recommended for coping with global warming...
All the best
Mark and Tamar