Monday, March 18, 2019


gisternag gedroom eintlik vroegoggend, lang droom, Vati Heini, Mutti, Nichola en ek is iewers op vakansie, maar ek moet klasse gee en toere doen vir environmental projects, and landkuns. Ek is baie besig en moet elke dag beplan en alles haarfyn uitwerk, Vati Heini help daarmee, hy het al die kaarte en ook al die mense se name en kontak details, Mutti maak kos en hou alles bymekaar en Nichola gee raad oor my toere en speeches...asook bevindings van al die nuwe gesamentlike geleerdheid word gedeel aan skoolkinders en onderwysers. Ons maak stories bymekaar om met mekaar te deel... Ek vind 'n koffer uitgespoel op die een rivier bank...binne krats iets, krietsel, ek maak oop en die koffer is vol verskillende linings, soos 'n konsertina leër en tussen die lining is klein klein skilpaadjies, party so groot as my duimnael. Ek dink hulle is almal dood en stadig maak ek hulle los en probeer uitvind wat ek moet doen, is soort van geskok en baie ontsteld. Stil sit ek verslae... Vati Heini kom help maar sy hande skud te veel en van die skilpaadjies val in die sand. Nichola tel hulle op en neem hulle na Ouma om skoon te was en droog te maak...skielik roep hulle van die kombuis in die vakansie houthut en sê: 'they are breathing mom, die een leef, die een haalasem, kom kyk!!...soos in 'n droom nadat hulle met water gewas word and dan versigtig droog gemaak word met 'n rooi afdroogdoek, haal hulle saggies asem... Mutti en Nichola sit hulle op 'n houtskinkbord van groot na klein. Vati Heini sê...ons moet net versigtig wees, sagkens optel, hulle leef red ons skilpaadjies seker 67 of meer van 'n koffer met swart lining van 'n rivier iewers in die Kaap, Riversdal...of so 'n plek...ek is laat vir my toer/bespreking groep en moet 'n rok aantrek, Vati Heini het gesê hy is moeg daarvan dat ek so baie klere aantrek, ek moet net een ding aantrek, daar is 'n rooi rok en so 'n pienkerige blomrok, ek gril 'n bietjie, die rooi rok het 'n strik aan van rooi en wit check ma het die detail aangewerk om die kraag...ten minste is die rokke nie stukkend nie soos vir sy begrafnis, ek kan die rokke aantrek, hoef nie reg te maak en op te borduur nie...en ons gaan voort om natuur klasse aan te bied in die rivier bedding...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A storm

last night Joburg was hit by a storm of note, so I decided to wait out the rain until 18hoo...wrong! after 18hoo I could still not get out of the gate into the street, and besides in the meantime the mouse family decided to make an appearance and did a delightful comedy of climbing and playing hide and not find! I could just watch the antics, so I always thought that I only had one mouse...and heard her daily...well, last night the young babies came out which means there is a father somewhere...the little ones are just to cute!!!getting there fat little bums squuuuuezing through the fabric books and shelves...they love rice...ate the whole 2 kg packet...Tastic Rice nogal...but the game of looking and finding each other just a remarkable slice of life into a mouse family...learning and skills development in the shelves at the Studio...

and clouds stacking again...white cotton fluff with a hidden thundering...did get home after 20h00 last night...thank you to Sibusiso and Sibusiso...both of them...

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Weeks Disapear

It takes time to find new thinking paths and difficulty in making ways assuming that the secretive route is not the alternative path. Days disappear between words of threads, childish outlashes, that leads to further anger... resentment and then silence. Listening to german tv stories calms the anxiety...takes away the problematic outbursts...the stilness that settles when the choice is to let it go...just let it not carry this onto the does not matter...keep the threads together.

Friday, February 15, 2019


last night I had a dream, we were camping in Caledon, the same place as the dream of the flooding...many months ago, all of us accept Vati Heini, he was at home, but he was as old as in old as now, but we were children, a time lapse, my sister are small... I was running around with dried sea kelp that I was trumpeting on, made a haunting noise, not like the whale crier, a softer low voice, pitch in between a glass bottle and plastic irrigation pipe sound...we woke up to the noise of people wanting to evict us from the camping site because I am making too much of a noise and the waters are rising, do not mother realises that it is my fathers birthday, it is the 13th...she phones him to convince him to come to us as we did not want him to be alone, in the mean time the people outside called the security as I am just calling on the see kelp trumpet...I panic as my father does not want to come...he cannot be left alone, I offer to walk to fetch him...people are all milling around like water rising...I only hear my father's voice, I do not see him...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Winter in Algeria by Ellen Rogers

As part of ABC - Artist Book Club (UJ) we engaged with Chris Reinders to explore a series of books from the late 18th century written about/with/in Africa. 'Winter in Algeria' by Ellen Rogers was already slightly damaged. I somehow fingered it first as the choices of books stacked on the long table so overwhelming and so many people taking/swopping/dropping books. Part of not being too obvious I suppose looking at what was in front of me defined my choices, the dark red/maroon/oxblood colour with a gold woman with a scarfe/cloth/doek covering her face. Some artists talked about burning or destroying the books. It was a complex issue on so many levels for me as I grew up in a house where books = knowledge and you had to wash your hands before even touching a book. The book was damaged slightly but could also be repaired. I did not realise that it was written about a woman, did not realise that is was a travelogue about Algeria, nor have I ever heard of the book. I kept returning to the image of the woman, tracing her lines, contours, the image denying an identity.

I started to embroider handkerchieves rather then engaging with the book because dismantling a book was a bit to much for my sensibility. I could not perceive undoing such a beautiful object. And that is part of the charm...a book was part of the era of thinking as an object of beauty, power, knowledge and status. It adorned many libraries, a show of wealth and manners! Now a book is discarded and the art of book making a forgotten tradition.

Only with the help of Jo-Ann Chan could I begin to undo the book, use the front page as a plate and run a series of took nearly 9 months of deliberating and agony to do this, but what an extra-ordinary experience, learned a lot...and explored paper and fabric...the fabric series I am embroidering on but there still is no concrete book reconstituted.

She feels like a ghost, somehow I am not getting the message yet the she is emerging and disappearing at the same time...she holds a gentle sway of direct contact with the reader as the golden glow creates a sense of glory yet her clothing wraps her, swaddles her in layers of cloth. Unknown.

I found a young artist from Algeria called Baya Mahieddine born in 1939 and died in 1998.
I am hoping to create a conversation between Ellen Baya and I when I am brave enough to unbundle the book. Redo the pages, cut out the figure and write notes onto the delicately printed pages.

As for the handkerchiefs: Before people used the word handkerchief, the word kerchief alone was common. This term came from two French words: couvrir, which means “to cover,” and chef, which means “head.” In the times of ancient Greece and Rome, handkerchiefs were often used the way they are today.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Celtic Cross on the hill

When someone or something is hurt we usually bandage the person up, even a child when it is cold or sick we wrap the child in a blanket. The art of wrapping comes a long way in the history of humans. It is a form of protecting and facilitates healing. After hearing the continuous knocking at night since the beginning of the year it was an intuitive reaction to wrap the memorial. Somehow finding a way to protect the Celtic cross on the hill. The view from my house is spectacular and seeing the cross every morning a reminder of the ability to live, to be connected and have memories. I have no direct link to the memorial other than that I ’see’ it everyday, the morning light, the evening light and the silhouette holds a beautiful place of stability in my life. 

Raising awareness to the fact that we have these beautiful structures, that has over the years become a symbol or place for prayer, for worship, coming to see one of the best views of Johannesburg, experience the expanse of the city, to breathe and let go of all the worldly troubles in our lives. I am pleased to see young people coming up the hill to take selfies, people come to pray, mothers searching for healing plants, and I encourage people who visits me to walk up the extraordinary steps. It was also part of an on-line game a few years ago; a hunt on the cell phone and many people came to ‘click' the memorial on their cell phones.

I am painfully aware that an effort has been made which I could not attend to clean up the First World War Memorial across from Darras Centre. We have made so many people feel that they are not part of the collective space in South Africa or the written history and now people are behaving accordingly, the sense of exclusion plays itself out in very dark ways. Is the damage that is being done part of this sense of exclusion, is it frustrated participation, is it an anger? I am not sure and cannot really respond to this other than that I have to at least stand up for the spaces in my ‘backyard’. With the Boitumelo students it was partly a historical journey, partly to experience the view of Johannesburg, to be exposed to our living spaces, many students do live in the area. It is part of story telling, part of connecting everyone’ story and to discover a sense of the universe, that we all belong. And this might have a lasting affect, or remain a mystery. Every person has their own rhythm and reaction, and all I try to do is bring people together to have a conversation. How that conversation happens, plays it out, is completely unexpected. I have no focus other then if we keep people within the circle of conversation one can bring about an experiential learning. And that is worth it. 


We did the wrapping on the Friday, 1st of February and the conversation was about an inclusive history, about living spaces and rent. About identifying our birth places and then connecting that journey to Johannesburg with the journey of these young men who came to fight a war in a foreign land with horses. One of these men married a Zulu woman and they had children and their descendants now live in Johannesburg. Again an unusual story about heritage, about love, about children. These are the things that connect all of us. And if we can make this connection between us we then all have a connection to the Scottish Horse Memorial on the Caledonia Koppie.

The first time I came to look at the house that I am currently living in I looked up and saw the memorial and asked about it. I thought that it was marvelous to live under the shadow of a Celtic cross that is so beautiful. I did some research to discover more and learned the story. I did not realise that there is another memorial in Edinburgh. And more so is that I actually saw this memorial during a journey long time ago. I just did not make the connection.

We need to find a way that we can take ownership of spaces that are important to everyone, and this is not only a building monument or cross. The current residents have to find ways to include everyone, to feel connected and included in our story.       



Friday, January 25, 2019

Vati Heini

Yesterday was a Vati Heini day, I shared the story of reënvalopvanggebiede...

'In my suitcase is die woord reenvalopvanggebiede. ‘n Paar jaar terug het Vati Heini en seker met Heino se ondersteuning ‘n nuwe gadget gevind wat die dias/skyfies op die computer sit. Aangesien ek ‘n boek wil maak oor hom waaroor hy vreeslik gebrom het was ek baie opgewonde en het gevra of ek die skyfies op ‘n harddrive kan kry. Natuurlik was ek baie bly toe hierdie harddrive aankom en het dit onmiddelik ingeplug en die eerste file oopgemaak…dit sê  B1 23 46 37 28 C, ek wonder want dis nie ‘n datum nie, die eerste dias is ‘n berg nog ‘n berg dan ‘n foto van Heino so 5 jaar oud met ‘n Fanta langs ‘n rivier. Ek maak die volgende file oop A3 45 26 32 16 D, daar is weer ‘n berg. Nog ‘n berg, ‘n dam, dan ‘n foto an Anke en Elke net sulke stywe boksterre en grys truitjies met ‘n groen rand om en sulke mooi knope, seker van tante Helga of tante Lotte se vele reise van Duitsland. Ek bel huis toe en vra Vati Heini: "hoe is die dias ingedeel want die nommers maak geen sin nie?', 'dis nie ‘n datum nie, nie mense nie of plekke nie?' O! sê hy dis opgedeel in die reënvalopvanggebiede, ek sê wat!!!!!, dis opgedeel in rrreenvalopvanggebiede, dit maak mos sin. I AM COMPLETELY CONFUSE.'