About two weeks ago Melanie Brummer arrived, supposedly to rest in between her busy teaching schedule. I’d been advised a few days before her arrival that a TV crew were coming to film the Gallery so she got here just in time for that circus. Melanie spent her first day trying to stop Dingo barking at the strange men with big furry microphones who were wandering around the house. Whilst she was throwing sticks for my errant hound in a gale force wind outside I was trying to keep a straight face inside, and conduct an interview in atrocious Afrikaans with a delightful young Adonis who knew nothing about textile art.
The next day I’d been invited to a jam session with the musicians preparing for the Blues Festival so Mel came along. We spent a lovely evening shaking and banging various musical instruments in between dancing to some great new music that our host introduced us to. Very relaxing. Had a quietish weekend with a visitor from Cape Town and some friends who arrived to celebrate my birthday – only a month and a half out but the kind thought was there and anytime is a good time to celebrate being alive.
The official opening of the three exhibitions at the Pink Haus gallery was held on Tuesday night – again in a gale force storm – but those who made it managed to demolish a huge amount of cheese, biscuits and red wine, I think the party ended at about 2am. Typical of living in a small town farming community – four of the invited guests couldn’t make it at the last minute because they had to perform an emergency caesarian on a cow. Our lives are ruled by animals.
Strijdom van der Merwe’s presentation on his land art projects was fantastic – I realized that I’ve had pictures of his work in my studio for years without knowing that he was the artist. He explained what we would be doing the following day at Suiderkruis beach and we left there with great anticipation.
Thursday morning dawned with the most magnificent weather – warm and still. I put a sign up outside the gallery explaining that visitors were welcome to join us on the beach. In total about 120 people of all ages participated. Strijdom explained what he wanted, demonstrated how to construct with sand, then handed us all diagrams to work from. We could choose our sites and the size of our work so – with very little planning taking place – works would nearly collide and merge as people crawled around the sand, totally engrossed in what they were doing. Interestingly, as the morning progressed, those who had chosen to do more than one design started to slowly sneak in personal touches until eventually at the end of the beach some of the patterns had completely detracted from the originals. The tide started to turn, a drone flew overhead to film the completed work and everyone trailed off home. Later that day I went down to document the sea washing in and over it all and slowly erasing it. Strijdom’s work has a very strong ‘green’ emphasis and that is what I was left with – all the beauty had been erased, never to return. Just as we humans are busy erasing our beautiful planet with our litter and carelessness. Everyone who participated in the project was affected in some way – amazing how building sandcastles can open your mind.
Friday was the Gallery Hop, a guided tour of all the galleries in town, so the Pink Haus was busy all day till fairly late – it was good to see quite a few out of town visitors. Saturday was great, albeit a little nervewracking. A friend, Kira, and I launched a Skills Development programme at the local Museum and we weren’t really sure how it was going to work out or what sort of support we’d have. We needn’t have worried. Although we had been targeting young unemployed people a number of physically disabled men arrived as well and they all thoroughly enjoyed the workshop that Mel taught on tie-dyeing as well as how to start up a small business. It was a delight to sense their excitement and watch their faces light up as the process unfolded and they could see what they’d achieved. A young man came to us afterwards and said, “Now I know I can do something with these hands.”- all the reward I need.
Finally Sunday dawned – weather foul once again- but spirits were high and we took ourselves off to the Blues and Jazz Fest. The day was spent listening to good music from local musicians, laughing, talking, dancing, eating pizza and drinking beer around a fire. Life is good!
Viva the Muse Festival and everyone in Great Brak who worked so hard to make it successful.
Till next time.
More pics of Strijdom’s art can be found at www.strijdom.co.za and the Muse pictures can be seen at www.greatbrak.com