Friday 30 November 2012

I Love Meryl Streep

I have stumbled on this Brain Pickings thing where they have posted graduation ceremony speeches by famous people. I am not sure it is a good thing, as I have become so addicted to these motivational words that I have no time to actually DO anything. Don't get addicted, but do watch the lovely rambling speech by Meryl Streep and Neil Gaiman's beautiful face (and speech).

Do Projects

Do Projects is a great idea started by my friend and colleague Greg Streak. Please go and have a look and contribute as much as you want to.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Migration Stories

I feel tired and sad today. Leaving is a difficult thing.

"Migration Stories"

The World Of Adventure

I was very excited when I found "The River of Adventure" in a book shop in Joburg. I am collecting this specific set for Leith. There are seven in total and we now have six of them. Those of you that grew up on Enid Blyton are sure to remember this series. They are the books with Kiki the talking parrot, and the band of children who always fall into adventure.

They have the most marvelous embossed covers and beautiful black and white etchings inside. As with most Enid Blyton adventures they always start off on a remote farm that holds no possibility of any excitement, but ends up leading to the most amazing discoveries of secret tunnels and hidden caves. Her descriptions of the food the kids get offered by the kindly farmer's wife are always amazing (even if occasionally the luncheon includes tongue).

The Prodigal Fairy Tale

I have just got these little works back from a Gallery in Singapore. They are from my fairy tales and urban myths series. They are still for sale if anyone is interested.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

The End Is In Sight

I am almost at the end of the uber commission of ten LARGE paintings I have been working on. This is a bad picture of painting number 7 & number 8. For these works my inspiration came from the photographs of my dear friend Alastair Mclachlan

He is a master of his art and has lived such a fascinating life literally on top of Johannesburg. He says: "Given the chance to live in Johannesburg, I decided to investigate the heart of the matter, so to speak, and made the 19th floor of the Lister Medical Building my home. From this vantage point and over more than 10 years I have witnessed and tried to understand and make sense of Johannesburg."
Using this incredible vantage point together with his technical skill and beautiful eye he has produced work like none other. Al has always been incredibly generous with his talents and has often either taken photographs for me to work from or allowed me access to his own work to use as sources for my paintings. We have a collaboration-in-waiting (a bit like ladies-in-waiting, but less poised). Hopefully one day it will be realised. Here are some of the amazing photographs he has taken.

The Big City (Our Lucky Stars)

Al, Claire and baby Riordan are our lucky stars - such a blessed little family, who we love so much. We had the pleasure of an evening meal with them on the second night we were in JHB. They have such a lovely house and garden and Al has a beautiful knack of creating little corners of delight throughout their space.

Our lucky stars
Their resident owl
Stella in the magic, rainbow, fairy garden
Contemplative Cath with the newest addition to the family Slim Shady


An old University friend of mine Paula Thomson is the Craft Coordinator at The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. On Saturday an amazing event will be taking place, please support it if you can.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

This Is Colossal

I so love this site, they always feature such amazing things. Both of the most recent posts will blow my boys' minds. The Lego Bonsai Trees by Makoto Azuma and these Geometric Sandcastles by Calvin Seibert are nice ambitious holiday projects to keep the little ones busy don't you think?  

It Just Takes the Biscuit!

Darren and I are obsessed with old biscuit tins. I especially love the sides of them! Here are some pics of the loot we picked up at Independent Traders.

The Big City (Vintage Paradise)

Our friends Frannie and Stew have just bought a new house and are in the process of MAJOR renovations so Stew has been visiting demolition yards in JHB searching for window frames etc. He happened across a place that may have changed my view of vintage shopping for ever. Really it is a demolition yard, but it has a vintage / junk / antiques shop attached to it. It blew my mind! My JHB friends don't want me to do this post because the place will then become public knowledge and will be stripped of all of its gems, but seeing that there are only 16 followers of this little blog I didn't think you guys could make a dent in the stock. Also, sharing is caring. On your marks, get set, go.... It is called Independent Traders and is in Boundary Road, Northriding.

Monday 26 November 2012

Books Galore

I have just popped up to the Kloof SPCA and found that they are having a half price sale on all books until next Monday. I found a pristine copy of Audrey Niffenegger's "Her Fearful Symmetry" for R9. If you have not read it, it is a must. I think it is even better than "The Time Traveler's Wife".

When Sam and I were doing Hey Cherry together at the I Heart Market one of the products I made up were book packs. I bought second hand books I loved, covered them with clear plastic, paired books I thought would like each other and bound them together with a pretty ribbon.
This is such a nice affordable present for your friends and family. Not only does it support your local charity but it shows that you have considered their reading tastes and have bought accordingly. If the ribbon you bind the pack with is pretty enough, the gift does not even have to be wrapped.
This idea is perfect for the kiddies and grandparents too as the Kloof SPCA has so many categories from gardening to craft to history and of course fiction and children's books.

The Big City (Home Away From Home)

We are so lucky to always have a place to stay in JHB with our beautiful friends Frannie, Stew and Stella-bella. We will miss you so dear friends.

One of the absolute delights about staying with this magical family is observing Stella's sense of style. Imaging going to work in the morning like this?

The pics above were taken by the masterous Darren K.
 The first night we were in JHB we had the pleasure of eating at the Troyeville Hotel. I love this joint! It has a mural of pink flamingos in the dining room and the most yummy Portuguese style food at reasonable prices.

These pics are borrowed from google images that advertise the restaurant 

Live Like A Mighty River

My friend Nina posted a link to this beautiful site called Letters Of Note. The whole blog is amazing but I was so touched by this Letter that Ted Hughes wrote to his son Nicholas. It's long but so worth the read. It comes from the book: Letters of Ted Hughes.

Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes & Nicholas Hughes in 1962

Dear Nick,

I hope things are clearing. It did cross my mind, last summer, that you were under strains of an odd sort. I expect, like many another, you'll spend your life oscillating between fierce relationships that become tunnel traps, and sudden escapes into wide freedom when the whole world seems to be just there for the taking. Nobody's solved it. You solve it as you get older, when you reach the point where you've tasted so much that you can somehow sacrifice certain things more easily, and you have a more tolerant view of things like possessiveness (your own) and a broader acceptance of the pains and the losses. I came to America, when I was 27, and lived there three years as if I were living inside a damart sock—I lived in there with your mother. We made hardly any friends, no close ones, and neither of us ever did anything the other didn't want wholeheartedly to do. (It meant, Nicholas, that meeting any female between 17 and 39 was out. Your mother banished all her old friends, girl friends, in case one of them set eyes on me—presumably. And if she saw me talking with a girl student, I was in court. Foolish of her, and foolish of me to encourage her to think her laws were reasonable. But most people are the same. I was quite happy to live like that, for some years.) Since the only thing we both wanted to do was write, our lives disappeared into the blank page. My three years in America disappeared like a Rip Van Winkle snooze. Why didn't I explore America then? I wanted to. I knew it was there. Ten years later we could have done it, because by then we would have learned, maybe, that one person cannot live within another's magic circle, as an enchanted prisoner.

So take this new opportunity to look about and fill your lungs with that fantastic land, while it and you are still there. That was a most curious and interesting remark you made about feeling, occasionally, very childish, in certain situations. Nicholas, don't you know about people this first and most crucial fact: every single one is, and is painfully every moment aware of it, still a child. To get beyond the age of about eight is not permitted to this primate—except in a very special way, which I'll try to explain. When I came to Lake Victoria, it was quite obvious to me that in some of the most important ways you are much more mature than I am. And your self-reliance, your Independence, your general boldness in exposing yourself to new and to-most-people-very-alarming situations, and your phenomenal ability to carry through your plans to the last practical detail (I know it probably doesn't feel like that to you, but that's how it looks to the rest of us, who simply look on in envy), is the sort of real maturity that not one in a thousand ever come near. As you know. But in many other ways obviously you are still childish—how could you not be, you alone among mankind? It's something people don't discuss, because it's something most people are aware of only as a general crisis of sense of inadequacy, or helpless dependence, or pointless loneliness, or a sense of not having a strong enough ego to meet and master inner storms that come from an unexpected angle. But not many people realise that it is, in fact, the suffering of the child inside them. Everybody tries to protect this vulnerable two three four five six seven eight year old inside, and to acquire skills and aptitudes for dealing with the situations that threaten to overwhelm it. So everybody develops a whole armour of secondary self, the artificially constructed being that deals with the outer world, and the crush of circumstances. And when we meet people this is what we usually meet. And if this is the only part of them we meet we're likely to get a rough time, and to end up making 'no contact'. But when you develop a strong divining sense for the child behind that armour, and you make your dealings and negotiations only with that child, you find that everybody becomes, in a way, like your own child. It's an intangible thing. But they too sense when that is what you are appealing to, and they respond with an impulse of real life, you get a little flash of the essential person, which is the child. Usually, that child is a wretchedly isolated undeveloped little being. It's been protected by the efficient armour, it's never participated in life, it's never been exposed to living and to managing the person's affairs, it's never been given responsibility for taking the brunt. And it's never properly lived. That's how it is in almost everybody. And that little creature is sitting there, behind the armour, peering through the slits. And in its own self, it is still unprotected, incapable, inexperienced. Every single person is vulnerable to unexpected defeat in this inmost emotional self. At every moment, behind the most efficient seeming adult exterior, the whole world of the person's childhood is being carefully held like a glass of water bulging above the brim. And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It's their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can't understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That's the carrier of all the living qualities. It's the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn't come out of that creature isn't worth having, or it's worth having only as a tool—for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful. So there it is. And the sense of itself, in that little being, at its core, is what it always was. But since that artificial secondary self took over the control of life around the age of eight, and relegated the real, vulnerable, supersensitive, suffering self back into its nursery, it has lacked training, this inner prisoner. And so, wherever life takes it by surprise, and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line—unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears. And yet that's the moment it wants. That's where it comes alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that's where it calls up its own resources—not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope, and to turn to account, and to enjoy. That's the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they're suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That's why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you've gone a few weeks and haven't felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you'll know you've gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you've gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. It was a saying about noble figures in old Irish poems—he would give his hawk to any man that asked for it, yet he loved his hawk better than men nowadays love their bride of tomorrow. He would mourn a dog with more grief than men nowadays mourn their fathers.

And that's how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy. End of sermon. As Buddha says: live like a mighty river. And as the old Greeks said: live as though all your ancestors were living again through you.

Sunday 25 November 2012

The Big City (In Good Company)

Another of my absolute favorite shops in Joburg is In Good Company. It reminds be so much of the lovely Lark in Australia. This is the perfect place to find those unusual little pressies you cant seem to find anywhere else.

The Big City (Big Blue)

So we went to Johannesburg for two days - it was a whirlwind of visits, shopping, work and pleasure. I have  so many photos to process so that I can give you a peek into our trip. I will start with these two, taken in Big Blue. It is one of my favorite shops, especially now that they stock the fabulous Dulton drawers and display cases.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Off To The Little Big Smoke

Darren and I are off to Joburg for a few days, so there will be no new posts for a while. My phone is genuine vintage and does NOTHING fancy so I will not be a-postin on the run. See you on my return.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

I Have Your Heart

Oh My Goodness, this is so beautiful! Have a look at this wonderful little animation by:

Crabapple, Boekbinder, & Batt

In 2010 Molly Crabapple & Kim Boekbinder schemed a scheme to make an animation with Crabapple's amazing art and Boekbinder's delicious music. They found Batt, or Batt found them, and a collaboration of beauty, joy, and unbounded creativity was born.

I can see why it has taken two years to make. 

Portraits of Our Friends (3)

I wish you knew these people because, for me the success of a portrait isn't always about how good they look in the picture, but more about finding those moments, posed or just captured, in which they are most themselves.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Portraits of Our Friends (2)

More pics by my wonderful husband. None of these photographs were taken in a studio, they are all mostly just "happy snaps".

Monday 19 November 2012

Moustache Monday

I bought a pack of thin moustaches the other day because they promised the following:

"Be a Musician, Be a Villain" 
"Be a Movie Star, Be a Con Man, Be a Director"

I love the family's new looks, don't you? I just wish Darren had taken the pics because they would have been so much better.