The past weeks have been full but I’ve achieved a great deal. After Andre died I decided that I didn’t want to leave this beautiful place but that the house was going to have to ‘work’ for me. It is a vast space for one person to live in and I enjoy sharing it with others so decided to turn it into a living gallery focusing on fibre and mixed media art. When it’s up and running properly it will become one of the ‘Places of Interest’ along the newly established Fragrance Route.
Builders came and went, stripping the main hall back down to an industrial type space. I love it – just air and light. Despite everyone warning me that having builders in would be a nightmare it was anything but. They were so helpful and ended up doing so many other jobs around the house that needed doing. Friends came over on the weekends to help me seal stone and bricks and to change light bulbs in the eight chandeliers in the hall. (This was a lot more difficult than it sounds considering that the chandeliers are out of the reach of most normal ladders).With my trusty gardener Pieter I’ve been building a terrace out at the back of the house and slowly turning the garden into a place full of fragrant plants – mostly lavenders and wild buchus. The swimming pool area will eventually go ‘Provencal’ but at the moment is a mild disaster area inhabited by a veritable Noah’s Ark of chickens, frogs, lizards and fish.
The first exhibition of Fibre Art is opening on 27th February, in conjunction with the Proe Mosselbaai Festival. Most of the work is sourced from Fibre Artists along the Garden Route although some is coming down from Pretoria. It’s exciting to see the pieces as they arrive but I am quite nervous about the whole project – it feels as though I’ve jumped into a very deep pool and am swimming like crazy to get to land, but I know that those are conditions I thrive in. Melanie Brummer will also be here to teach again for the first four days of the exhibition – it’s always invigorating to have her around as she’s so positive, besides the fact that she’s a dear friend. (Click on the Proe icon on the Home Page to see her classes)
The Thursday Open days started up again after the builders left and it’s been wonderful having a bunch of creative friends here to share ideas with and just to have a chat and a laugh. My creativity is slowly returning and I’m finishing off some of my half finished projects (quilters know them as UFO’s) as well as having started two more. I had forgotten how incredibly soothing hand quilting is. The Textile Art Group is back in full swing again and will meet here on the 27th – I taught on Gustav Klimt in November last year and there were some interesting pieces that came out of that lesson. Our next project is related to the work of Japanese textile artist Noriko Endo.
On the animal front the chickens are breeding like…chickens? There are five mummies and their broods of fledglings scattered around the property. Lily produced twelve babies on Sunday – four look like little black penguins. Ali produced hers on Andre’s birthday – one struggled to emerge from its egg so she abandoned it and I ended up hatching it out under lights. What a beautiful chick emerged- a dusky gold with black markings on her face, I call her Andrea.
The goats are growing beautifully and, although I love my milk goats, Cooper the boerbok is still one of my favourites. His love butts nearly wipe me out but he is a darling.
Whilst the builders were here all the doors and windows were open and the sparrows managed to sneak a nest into the dining room and hatch out a brood there. They are incredibly cheeky and I can’t leave anything out or they pinch it. One day they were particularly rowdy and I discovered them eating the sugar in the kitchen – it was like a kid’s birthday party – sugar fueled sparrows bouncing off the walls. They also fly in and out of the front door freely, parting one’s hair as they zoom overhead. A visiting friend stood in shock in my doorway exclaiming ,”But a BIRD’S just flown into your house Vivienne!”, I hadn’t stopped laughing when it shot out again leaving my friend with her mouth and eyes wide open. I had guests for lunch on Sunday and they watched bemused as the sparrow mummy and daddy swooped up and down the dining room to feed their squalling children. I only invite animal lovers for meals here.
I seldom write about Sputnik, the cat and my dogs, Ben and Dingo but they are a huge part of my life and my almost constant companions. Sputnik was always Andre’s cat and of all the animals he took his master’s death the worst. He lost a lot of weight and seemed a little lost himself sometimes but his old fighting spirit is starting to return. In the early mornings he loves to torment me by knocking my book, my glasses and my cellphone off the bookshelf onto my head before sinking his claws into my skull. All this is done whilst purring like a steam train and he will continue until I get out of bed.
Ben and Dingo are the most wonderful companions. Ben has a gentle and sensitive nature yet is still protective of me and Dingo is a hyperactive lunatic who is fearless. They make me laugh and keep me (moderately) sane. As I type this Dingo has her head on my lap and is staring at meWhat would we do without our pets?
Till next time.