WHEW! I feel as if I’ve just stepped off a wild ride in an amusement park! Melanie Brummer was teaching here for a week and the creative juices have been flowing thick and fast. Now that everyone has left ,the house is strangely quiet and returning gently to normal – even the animals in the bush are starting to come back.
Melanie is an outstanding teacher and incredibly generous in sharing her knowledge, time and resources. The ladies attending the course dyed silks and cottons, designed and cut their own lino prints, printed with found objects and just generally played and created all day every day to their hearts’ content. We tried sending them to the beach or out for a scenic drive but could only manage to tear them away from their work briefly every now and then. Some nights we had to virtually drag them away just to come and have dinner!
On their first day of teaching (mostly theory) I arranged for them to visit Beatrix Bosch, the well known leather artist who resides in Wilderness. That outing only seemed to fire their enthusiasm even more and I was astounded, firstly at their output over the next four days and, secondly at the beautiful designs they came up with, especially in the printing class. It was fascinating to see how the individual characters and personalities were reflected in their work.
Although I was officially their hostess, tending to their daily needs, I’m afraid I couldn’t resist being drawn into the lino cutting and printing class. It was fabulous - I revamped my old jeans, made a lovely block and printed some textiles. Viola came to help me every day and she was also seduced into the vortex of colour swirling around the classroom. She spent some time printing with found objects, coming out of the class with a lovely cloth, stars in her eyes and pronouncing that ‘this was the most beautiful job’.
The ladies attending the course came from different artistic and cultural backgrounds so there was a good deal of cross pollination of ideas and many animated discussions as well as a lot of laughter – they were great fun. They were also most kind and spoilt me with
I have created a page of photos taken during the course – they can be found under the ‘Gallery” tab in “Mel’s Retreat”. Mel’s photos and write up can be seen at www.facebook.com/dyeandprints . The Great Brak News also did an article about the Retreat – this can be seen at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.225231574198716.65122.186046371450570&l=e4103e47f2
Meanwhile – back at the ranch – as they say in the classics, life carries on as normal. The goats are growing incredibly fast and are very cute – sorry, I know that sounds trite but they ARE! Their little horns are starting to bud and there is a distinct difference between the boys and the girls – the boys faces are wider and the girls are far more delicate looking. I like to lie in the grass and just let them explore me, they chew my hair, snuffle at my lips, suck my fingers. One morning early, whilst the Retreat was on, one of the ladies accompanied me to feed the goats. We were both in our pajamas and the babies industriously tried to eat the leaf pattern from the legs of her pajama pants, it was so funny.
I am slowly expanding my vegetable gardens into the orchard and used all my compost in my newest beds. Obviously I hadn’t rotted it down enough because there has been a profusion of pak choy, tomatoes, paprikas, rocket and pumpkins coming up where I hadn’t planted them. Maybe I should start selling my bags of compost as ‘Instant vegetable gardens’ – just add water. There are always birds and lizards who accompany me when I work in the garden – they wait for the insects- and lately a glittering Malachite sunbird has been following me around. Imagine my delight when I was watering my naartjie tree and he came and sat in the tree about a foot away from my hand, then proceeded to fly in and out of the stream of water from the hose pipe! I was mesmerized and totally overwatered my tree but didn’t want to move for fear of frightening him away. What a wonderful experience that was. Another beautiful and fleeting thing which Andre and I witnessed took place one morning early when we went to the beach with Ben. It was very early, the tide was out and the mud flats next to the river were exposed. We saw what we thought initially were spouts of steam going straight up from the muddy flats into the sky but knew that couldn’t be right. Upon closer inspection we realized that the columns were actually made up of thousands of midges bathed in sunlight. There were hundreds of these columns, straight up from the ground rising to about twenty or thirty feet, each column distinctly separate from the other. We must have arrived at just the right moment to witness this spectacle and the conditions must have been conducive to that behaviour because within a very short time they just disappeared. We felt so privileged to have seen it.
Most of the fynbos on the hillsides of our property have stopped flowering but there are many new flowers in the valley which weren’t there last year, tiny white flowers like little tears and a profusion of hanging purple flowers. Along the beach the dunes are spectacular at present – my friend and I were trying to go for a walk two days ago and just kept stopping in our tracks to admire the profusion of colour splashed higgledy-piggledy everywhere. This month coming I need to knuckle down and start making Christmas gifts – only two and half months to go!
Till next time.