The last three weeks have been a blur of activity but events at the Gallery have far exceeded my wildest expectations. The build up to the opening evening on Tuesday 26th February was hectic, I was working 18 hour days and then not sleeping because my mind wouldn’t switch off – was there enough parking space, had I remembered to invite so-and- so, would anyone even COME! Three o’clock in the morning is always the worst place in the world.
My daughter and her family came through to help with hanging all the works – they brought me a wonderful gift of a Gregor Rohrig photo on canvas, cows on the beach in the Transkei, which we hung in pride of place in the lounge/workshop area so that it can seen from pretty much anywhere in the house.
I knew that once the opening night was over I’d be able to just go with the flow and that’s exactly what happened. Melanie arrived the day before to help with final arrangements, my friends took the dogs to their house so that they wouldn’t wipe out any guests and other friends started arriving at around 6ish with plates of delectable treats. I had decided to put some mellow music on in the background and was completely floored when a young man came strolling into the house carrying an amp and a guitar. Upon enquiry he charmingly informed that he was Mordecai and the Mossel Bay Municipality had sent him to play at the opening! I just started to laugh and from there on was relaxed – feeling I’d done all I could, now matters would have to take their own path. Mordecai set up in the lounge where the snacks were and gently strummed the evening away creating a very relaxed mood. Owen Calverly from Tucats Media opened the evening with an interesting talk on Fibre Art. Most of the invited guests arrived and seemed suitably impressed so we were off to a good start. (Photos from the events around the gallery can be found under the Gallery Tab, click on Fibre Art exhibition)
As the evening wound down Owen, and his family, asked if we could catch some chickens for them to take home so….in my best black evening dress, with a torch strapped to my head and no shoes on in case I had to run, we went chicken hunting under the full moon. Life is never boring at the Pink Haus.
Nothing prepared me for the response from the public. From Wednesday morning onwards there was a steady stream of visitors from all walks of life and they just kept coming back and bringing their friends and acquaintances. The doors were supposed to close at 5 but didn’t so the minute the last body was out of the door Melanie and I would lock up quickly, climb into the car and go looking for food somewhere. We were so busy during the day that there was no chance to eat a proper meal and we’d end up scavenging odd bits and pieces from my seriously depleted fridge. The first day or two we lasted on leftover snacks but were eventually reduced to eating odds and ends like cucumber, burnt chicken sausage and chocolate biscuits.
Mel’s classes started on Thursday and the visitors to the gallery were fascinated with the buzz of activity in the workshops and the different processes taking place – so many signed on for classes that Mel will have to come back later in the year.
The visitor’s responses to the works on display has been extremely gratifying and gave me a huge boost – I’ve lived and breathed textiles and fibre art for many years and love to share it with people. Most have never been exposed to it before and were generally impressed, especially by Kathryn Harmer-Fox’s work. S A Artist magazine contacted me yesterday to tell me that she will be featured in the May/June issue – I’m thrilled for her sake, her work is exceptional. People have left here inspired to start experimenting with their own creativity and many have asked to join the Thursday open group that’s held at the Pink Haus- that is magic for me.
I was so engrossed in the running of the exhibition that the fact that it was the 28th February and the eight month anniversary of Andre’s death completely slipped my mind, I had lost all track of time. That night though I had the most amazing dream – Andre walked into the main exhibition room and looked around smiling, I ran to him and held his face, looked into his beautiful eyes and kissed his lips and I knew he was happy with me. I often feel as though he’s watching and guiding me.
Excitement reached fever pitch by Saturday afternoon when we went to the Great Brak Museum to teach 25 children from Green Haven township how to tie dye their own T-Shirts. Our local tattoo shop, Pure Prophecy, had donated brand new white T-Shirts to every child, the Great Brak Museum had laid on cold drinks and chocolate muffins, we’d organized some volunteers to help us with the children and Mel and I had packed the cars at 6 that morning with everything we’d need. Although we said we’d start at 2.30 and I had visions of no kids arriving I received a frantic call at 1.30 from the Museum to say that the children were there already and were champing at the bit! There were still visitors in the gallery so we gently ushered them to the door, leapt into the cars with my neighbours and raced down to the village to be greeted by the sight of 25 eager children and their mentor, Ma Ezelle, a Rastafarian lady. Someone started phoning the volunteers and teaching commenced. What a joyful afternoon it was – the sheer delight of the children was infectious and as we waited for their T-Shirts to ‘cook’ in the microwaves they entertained us with an impromptu concert of singing and dancing. Watching them walk home in their (still wet) T-Shirts was a sight I will never forget – a vibrating rainbow of colour.
That evening friends came around and we had a wonderfully relaxed braai to celebrate Mel’s upcoming birthday. We sat out on the deck under the brilliant stars and I felt a sense of deep satisfaction and happiness which I haven’t felt for a long time. All that has happened has been huge in helping the healing process after losing Andre. It’s strange, but more and more I feel that this strange pink house I live in is the legacy Andre left me to build onto – he knew me so well, in many ways better than I knew myself..
Sunday, Mel left and there were fewer feet through the Gallery but I still had two sales so that was good. The exhibition continues until 21 March, open on Thursdays or by appointment – this last Thursday was packed and there were visitors on Wednesday and Friday as well. The amazing thing is that I have exhibitions booked until March 2015 and requests by different teachers to come and teach here- the gallery has just taken on a life of it’s own, I’m thrilled!.
The animals also played their part in creating the right ambience when visitors where here. Sputnik took up residence on the spiral staircase amongst the silk scarves where he looked very comfortable. Ben would wander around with a shoe in his mouth, as he does, looking very sweet. Dingo was hell bent on training every visitor to throw her ball or teddy – as they wandered around the hall she would silently place her toy in a crucial spot then reverse away, yellow eyes blazing and ears perked up, watching for the moment when someone would pick up her toy and throw it for her. The chickens discovered that all the cars arriving had fresh insects stuck in their radiator grilles so they spent happy days pecking away at all the cars in the driveway – sort of Meals on Wheels for chickens, an odd sight. Two weeks before the exhibition opened a beautiful rhebok appeared in the field right next to my bedroom, grazing with the goats who were not quite sure what to make of her. She stayed for about two hours and I just couldn’t stop looking at her – so graceful and silent.
Of course, now that all the planning is over I’ve had to catch up with the work that’s fallen behind –paying licences, doing VAT, all the boring stuff which steals our time! I had to take my car in for a service for the day in George so my friends decided to spoil me. They picked me up from the garage and we went on a road trip up the coast to Plett and Knysna. We breakfasted on croissants and coffee in Knysna, swam in a little cove, visited small markets and interesting shops then had a late lunch of baked aubergines and foccacia at a delightful restaurant overlooking the sea and the Heads .What a glorious Monday! We felt utterly spoilt and blessed to be relaxing in such a beautiful part of the world when most people were at work. It was a great way to unwind.
So…. Now I have a gallery. My word, the journey has been a strange one.
Till next time.