Saturday, 26 July 2014


I have been thinking about my new dark friend a lot lately. I miss him and wonder if he is ok.
He was born and has lived in a special township all his life; even his father was born there. There seems to be no way out for him. He has no passport, no identity, cannot vote, cannot get a driver's license. 
But he can make art.
He uses the available materials like corrugated iron and barbed wire to make art- inspirational art. Depicting life as he has become accustomed to, but in a beautiful, uplifting way. He celebrates these symbols of oppression and fences with which they try and shut him in; away from a better world. But your spirit flies high above all of this, my friend. Your children skip rope with barbed wire and families hold pop-riveted hands in dance. They fly colourful red balloons and kites from wires as if to show the world: "Look at us! We are people and families, too! You can hold everything from us, but you will never own our spirit!"

My friend is not a Zulu or a Xhosa or a Sotho. My friend is by origin a Palestinian, you see. He lives in a refugee camp in the outskirts of Beirut in Lebanon.

Abdul Katanani, my friend, I know you are going to see this. I want you to know that I am thinking of you and hope that your family and friends are unaffected by what's happening in Gaza. Thank you for opening my eyes to the other side of every story. I long for the day that we can meet in South Africa and talk and talk again- and maybe you can make a lamp out of orange peel again so that it will shine its warm, citrusy peace over everyone present, just like at Cité.

Friday, 4 July 2014


So, back in South Africa after 3 months. What can I say?
My whole tube with all my work never arrived with our other luggage in CT International. Waited four days and endless phone calls later, DHL delivered on Wednesday morning. Phew.
The pool needed cleaning, internet banking needed setting up again, payments to be made, garden ignored, vehicles sorted, applied for a replacement drivers license . . . 
No problem is so big or complicated that it cannot be run away from. So we promptly hopped in the car an drove to Buffels. Stopped at Albertinia and bought a whole rump for steaks and some sosaties. Government white bread for toasted saamies. Condensed milk for morning coffee (yes, Bialetti!).
No fresh baguettes, no croissants, no sweet French . . . in fact, nearly nobody at all. In stark contrast to three months of sensory stimulation- smells, tastes, sounds, sights: familiarity. Good old Buffels lies surrounded by the endless pounding waves, wagtails in our house as if we've never been away. Glorious sunshine and the smack of the sea. An hour ago a whale blew a welcome 400m from my deck.
Yes, I miss Paris and my new friends. Yes, of course Mia is in a no-man land of frustration and nobody who understands it. Yes, it was a great, great, great experience. One has a mixed identity, a sense of something missing and a sense of something found. Like some strange creature on a new planet. But slowly the routine of home is beginning to ebb and flow with the tides. Nothing has changed, and everything has.
Started illustrating for Riana Scheepers' Gediggies vir Peuters. Huis Horison Art Auction looming large. Life carries on. The treadmill is turning. I step on board. OK, HERE WE GO.

Theodor is bang vir die nag - watercolour and charcoal illustration.