Her first course was on shoe-making, a fairly intensive two day workshop. I had not realized how much effort goes into making a pair of shoes, especially the beautiful creations which emerged. Although Kathryn had said I could do all three courses I knew it would be difficult having to host at the same time. I tried to follow the instructions in between prepping teas and lunch, finding odds and ends for people who’d left things at home, attending to visitors and running my normal daily chores and although I managed to construct one shoe upper I eventually decided it would look better as a cat. One of the course attendees started off making a left shoe, became distracted and ended up making a right shoe which looked like a banana- she kept us in hysterics with her wails of consternation every time she’d made another mistake. There were, however, some beautiful shoes which emerged from the class and, if I’m ever stuck a million miles from a shoe shop, I should theoretically be able to shoe myself.
The second class was a pure exercise in drawing and understanding abstract line. This one I managed to complete with minor interruptions and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The third course, in which Kathryn taught how to use a sewing machine as a creative tool and also how to develop one’s own style, was packed. There were tables and sewing machines and cables, mounds of fabrics and scattered cups of coffee everywhere but it was exciting to see the lovely pieces emerging from under the buzzing sewing machines, guided by the hands of their makers. I managed to start a face using torn tea bags as skin – they give a beautiful textural effect. (Pictures of Kathryn’s classes can be seen under the Gallery Tab/Arts and Crafts/KHF 2014))
During all this there was an exhibition on in the Gallery so there were visitors in and out throughout the day – many of them would be drawn to the hive of activity in the workshops and were fascinated to see the processes by which fibre art is made. On Friday there were quite a few visitors from the Proe Mossel Bay Festival but on Saturday it was packed – for the first time I ran out of parking, there were cars everywhere. As the visitors seemed to reach their peak and I was trying to figure parking out Dingo came running into the house barking excitedly for me to come outside. Thank heavens I listened to her because as I stepped out of the front door there was Cooper the goat with his little harem of ewes eating their way along my one and only flower bed. A group of mildly anxious visitors to the Gallery were standing off to one side, not sure whether it was safe to walk past the goats. I tried to coax my errant pets back into the field from which they’d escaped but they were enjoying their excursion too much so they blithely ignored me. All, that is, except Cooper. He has recently started taking his role as ‘Leader of the Pack’ very seriously and doesn’t take kindly to being rebuked. He is also about 50 – 60kgs of solid testosterone, incredibly funky smelling and a little scary when he’s cross. He decided I was being rude so reared up twice on his hind legs and made threatening lunges towards me. I ran into the house to fetch my rubber mallet which was being used in the shoe making course but by the time I returned the goats had all wandered into the house. The girls were milling around the entrance admiring the work but Cooper was trotting determinedly through the main gallery looking for a fight.
What ensued was surreal but no doubt entertaining for the visitors to the Gallery albeit a little odd. When Cooper saw me he charged so I had to whack him between the horns with the mallet. He reared up to attack me again but I managed to sidestep him and land another smack on his head, this one seemed to subdue him so… with a lot of snorting and swaying of his huge head and horns he allowed me to show him the way out of the gallery and back to the field, fortunately with the ewes all trotting meekly behind. Every now and then he’d have to show me that he wasn’t going to take this humiliation lying down so he’d take a lunge at me – by the time he was back behind a closed gate I was shaking like a leaf. I do love Cooper, he is a magnificent animal, but, my word, he can be a handful at times.
Side entertainments aside though, the classes were successful and enjoyed by all – thank you Kathryn, it was a real pleasure having you here.
Now that Proe Mossel Bay is behind me I can catch up on work around the property. First my vegetable garden needs establishing again – this time on a smaller scale, in boxes so it’s more manageable and to keep the chickens out. This past week a friend has been transforming the courtyard around the braai. The prefab walling really spoilt the view so he removed the upper portions from the walling next to the deck and suddenly the whole panorama has opened up to reveal the green valley more fully. The next stage is the most exciting though as he is constructing a huge fire pit using rock from around the property – it already looks stunning and I can’t wait to use it.
Temperatures are starting to drop a little, mercifully, as we had a period of uncomfortable heat and humidity – it’s hard to work when you feel like a wet sock. I’d been in Cape Town for a week on business during the worst of the heat and couldn’t wait to get home. On my return journey I stayed over at a friend in Paarl, the temperature was 38C, two days after I left it was 44C, thank heavens I missed that!
Shortly after I returned to the Pink Haus the suffocating heat was relieved by light rain late one afternoon. A spectacular sunset over the mountains followed, they stood starkly lit like a film set, every fold and crevasse revealed, every mountain stream sparkling, and arched overhead was a brilliant and complete double rainbow. Later that evening I sat on the deck under a nearly full moon and listened to the owls as they called to one another, flying from tree to tree around the valley. Days and nights like these make living here worthwhile – I am so very fortunate.
Till next time.
PS There is an exhibition of Laotian silk Sam Nua and Tim Sin as well as fibre art at present in the Gallery. To make an appointment to visit please call me on 082 730 1001 or email.