new stitchings

present tense

A few snaps of my latest work – painting, mixed media and fabric + thread.

Happy creating!

Willemien de Villiers | Cell | oil on canvas, 150mm x 800mm

Willemien de Villiers | Cell | oil on canvas, 150mm x 800mm

Willemien de Villiers | Cell 2, detail |oil on canvas, 150mm x 800mm

Willemien de Villiers | Cell 2, detail |oil on canvas, 150mm x 800mm

Willemien de Villiers | Stitch | oil + thread on canvas | 300mm diam

Willemien de Villiers | Stitch | oil + thread on canvas | 300mm diam

Willemien de Villiers | Stitch, detail | oil on canvas, 300mm diam

Willemien de Villiers | Stitch, detail | oil on canvas, 300mm diam

Willemien de Villiers | Heackel's mistake | stitching and fabric manipulation on found linen napkin | 230mm x 230mm

Willemien de Villiers | Haeckel’s mistake | stitching and fabric manipulation on found linen napkin | 230mm x 230mm

Willemien de Villiers | Heackel's mistake, detail

Willemien de Villiers | Haeckel’s mistake, detail

Willemien de Villiers | Haeckel's mistake, detail 2

Willemien de Villiers | Haeckel’s mistake, detail 2

Willemien de Villiers | Here the moon also has a place | stitching and folding on found linen napkin, 270mm x 270mm

Willemien de Villiers | Here the moon also has a place | stitching and folding on found linen napkin, 270mm x 270mm

Willemien de Villiers | Here the moon also has a place, detail

Willemien de Villiers | Here the moon also has a place, detail

Willemien de Villiers | Orchid pollinia, gland + translator arms | stitched and altered linen tray cloth | 390mm x 270mm

Willemien de Villiers | Orchid pollinia, gland + translator arms | stitched and altered linen tray cloth | 390mm x 270mm

Willemien de Villiers | Orchid pollinia, gland + translator arms, detail

Willemien de Villiers | Orchid pollinia, gland + translator arms, detail

Willemien de Villiers | Orchid pollinia, gland + translator arms, detail 2

Willemien de Villiers | Orchid pollinia, gland + translator arms, detail 2

claws and mud

Unique ceramic dogs by South Australian artist Elodie Barker

Unique ceramic dogs by South Australian artist Elodie Barker

 via Sculptural Bowhouse

Lula notices that the honey pot is shaped like an elegant long-nosed dog – a pointer maybe – with crossed forelegs and its head tilted back to form a handle. She gently lifts it from the glass shelf, noticing a small hole in each  delicate ceramic toenail, from which the honey, presumably, will pour.

It will make a perfect gift for her friend Reeza (beekeeper and dog lover) so she takes it to the counter and pays the hefty price written on the tag.

soft paws to protect flooring

soft paws to protect flooring

Soft Paws for Flooring Protection by

Lula has to cross a river to get back to her house, barefoot and muddied up to her knees, but she doesn’t mind because a perfect gift is hard to find on this remote island.

While wading through the warm clay-coloured water, she thinks of the dream she had the previous night; of the strange animal she’d met there on the edge of the nature reserve she was staying in in her dream … and then sees the bushveld landscape (acacia thorns and dry scrub) where she had spotted the small, compact dream animal – about the size of a large Maltese poodle – but with dense, short fur.

It had short, sharp claws – not unlike the ceramic nails of the wrapped-up dog she was carrying now, Lula realises.

In her dream, several rows of claws protruded from the animal’s stubby neck, like a designer collar.

Kruger National Park Landscape (Photo: John Wesson)

Kruger National Park Landscape (Photo: John Wesson)

Centre for Environmental Rights.

The animal seemed to be wounded and in distress. There was another woman present, holding a spade, threatening to decapitate the frightened creature if Lula couldn’t/wouldn’t take care of it.  She longed to cradle it like a baby; instead ran back to her tent to fetch a bucket to carry the spiked animal to the edge of the dry river.

Walking away, Lula felt as if she was joining all of creation on a stage; birds, animals big and small, insects, reptiles, flowers – all drenched in an African sunset of flame and ash.

The performance felt personal; for her eyes only.


Photos of the Kruger Private Reserves | Perfect Africa.


Reeza’s party is wonderful – literally full of wonder: everywhere Lula looks, someone is engaged in some form of extreme creativity – an opera singer walks up and down the indoor staircase singing Lucia di Lammermoor, while a cross-legged sage nestled on the leather couch in the downstairs living room wrestles himself in a bout of impossible chess, board balanced on his lap.

Dame Joan Sutherland

Dame Joan Sutherland, a.k.a “la Stupenda”

Lula glimpses the headline on the paper lying next to him: “Reburial Aborted”.

There’s definitely a poem in there, she thinks.

present tense

The glorious supermoon energised me last night – finishing this post (in draft mode for weeks!) is the proof. Listening to the downpour outside, winter’s teeth finally showing, it feels good to muse on what inspires me; to reflect on what is happening here and now.

supermoon comparison

supermoon comparison

Supermoon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Supermoons occur about once every 14 full moons in a full moon cycle (the next one will be on August 10, 2014) when a full moon coincides with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system, and it is known that the gravitational stress on the moon during a Sun-Earth-Moon syzygy can trigger a moonquake – of no consequence to our planet. ( I like the idea of a moonquake … and the idea of an earthrise, as seen by astronauts from the moon.)

A different perspective is always invigorating.

Facts (however fleetingly remembered) add to my enjoyment of the natural world, but sometimes it feels appropriate to surrender to mysteries that can never be known. (At least not by me.) The language of mathematics and geometry continue to fascinate me, and draw me in, as I race through books with titles like “Thinking Mathematically”; “2 x 2=5”; Mario Livio’s  “The Golden Ratio”; “The nature of Mathematics”; “Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities” – and for good measure a history of Anesthesia, which deserves a post of its own.

discrete mathematics

discrete mathematics

via ETH – Computer Science – Prof. Dmitry Feichtner-Kozlov.

Discrete Mathematics is a branch of modern mathematics which distinguishes itself from the more classical branches in several important respects. Probably the most characteristic feature, “the trademark” of Discrete Mathematics is to study mathematical concepts in a constructive way. 

I cannot say I understand much of what is written (e.g. this definition of discrete mathematics: “The classical question Does there exist an object with property X? gets transformed into How can we construct an object with property X?”)  but the words spark ideas and images for new work. The visual interpretations of advanced mathematical systems by ancient civilisations like the Maya, further feed my obsession to understand something of the magical world of numbers.

Dresden Codex, leaves 27-30 (from Compendio Xcaret)

Dresden Codex, leaves 27-30 (from Compendio Xcaret)

Realms of the Sacred in Daily Life: Early Written Records of Mesoamerica.

The Dresden codex depicts a number of rituals and gods and documents aspects of daily life such as agriculture. The leaves displayed are part of the tables documenting the astronomical movements of the Great Star (Venus) and the first page of the lunar cycle tables (page at far right). Much of the damage evident in this facsimile occurred during the bombardment of Dresden during World War II.

Paris Codex, leaves 21-22 (from Compendio Xcaret)

Paris Codex, leaves 21-22 (from Compendio Xcaret)

The Paris Codex contains almanacs, calendar counts, constellation tables, and depictions of the spirit world as it relates to the terrestrial world. In this rendition of the spirit world, the four seated figures at the top of leaf 22 are Pauahtuns, associated with the four world directions, the rains and winds. Just below them are two death deities, identified in part by their “death-eyes” collars. Between the two groups a sky band indicates the division of their positions in the heavens and on earth. These two realms are separate, but they are shown to be part of a unified whole by the green sky ropes that twist and weave among the figures.

Madrid Codex, leaves 13-16

Madrid Codex, leaves 13-16

The leaves displayed here show a portion of the almanac section used by priests to perform divination rites relating to essential daily activities such as hunting, weaving, and agriculture. The four horizontal rows in the lower half of each panel are composed of the glyphs of the 20 named days which, as in the Aztec calendar, cycle 13 times through the 260-day Sacred Year.

willemien de villiers | orchid | oil on canvas

willemien de villiers | orchid | oil on canvas

In this painting I recently finished, I dissected and photographed and researched the morphology of orchids; those exotic botanical creatures that seem to possess the power of speech. I heard the voice of one given to me on my birthday in March, still blooming and bewitching, as I attempted to capture its cellular soul.

willemien de villiers | the mysteries/underside

willemien de villiers | the mysteries/underside

willemien de villiers | detail, underside \ the mysteries

willemien de villiers | detail, underside \ the mysteries

These images of the underside of my stitched cloth, “The Mysteries”, somehow best reflect how I feel right now. Mystery upon mystery; unraveled yet knotted and secure. I feel like Lula in her dream: joining all of creation on a stage; birds, animals big and small, insects, reptiles, flowers … content, yet curious about what will be revealed.

Happy creating!

meaning and madness

Stratum Corneum Layer of the Epidermis | Photographic Print by Veronika Burmeister

Stratum Corneum Layer of the Epidermis | Photographic Print by Veronika Burmeister

The art lecturer’s current special interest is human epidermal layers and how to render its tender cellular structure in marble. A few slabs are flown in from Carrara every year to indulge this famous artist whose work seems perennially and fashionably contemporary: in the sixties he was into projections of optical illusions, inspired by the work of Mark Boyle and Joan Hills (art critics like to speculate that this was the wellspring of his later obsession with marble, and skin); in the seventies, filmmaker Sydney Lumet inspired him to incorporate the darker grit of his largely unexplored imagination.

(The seventies were not kind to him.)

In the eighties he moved to Japan and produced a single piece; a rumoured masterpiece that has never been seen or photographed.

In 1992 he joined the fine arts faculty of this remote campus and started to work exclusively in marble.

Images and ideas came too easily to this artist, demanding little thought or processing time. Unfortunately he possessed a workman-like skill to realistically render anything – leaving his finished works largely empty of meaning. This fact doesn’t seem to bother the critics and art theorists who love to hate the ease with which he creates.

What the artist thinks about, and writes about, in the small dark grey notebooks he orders in packs of fifty from a bespoke stationery store in Belfast, no-one will ever know.

microscopic images of marble

microscopic images of marble

marble sculpture at Corinth

marble sculpture at Corinth

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

On the pages of his notebooks he muses over the geological processes that create marble. Detailed drawings scuttle across the virgin pages, conjuring up sea organisms whose shells – once they’ve died and fully dehydrated – leave behind the calcite-rich deposits that eventually form limestone. 

The centre page of his second notebook shows the burden of rock, millions of tons of rock, pressing down on fragile, bleached fragments.  Under sustained pressure,  hundreds of minutely scratched graphite lines metamorphose into a hole – worked through the page – revealing a strip of pure white marble underneath.  

These pages are the artist’s life’s work; this is where meaning is revealed; for his eyes only.

His fifteen students casually refer to his peculiar ‘skinterest’ when talking among themselves; of how cold the tips of his fingers feel whenever he strokes an upper arm, thigh or collarbone to enlighten them.

When the first rumours of his arrest begin to percolate through the department, they assume a crime of a sexual nature has been committed (a not-too-uncommon occurrence on their campus) but quickly agree that the famous sculptor is as cold-blooded as his favoured material, and declare him not guilty.

Marble quarries of Carrara

Marble quarries of Carrara

Image of the Day:

“What might look like snow cover on the rugged mountains is actually bright white marble, contrasting with Tuscany’s lush green vegetation in this summertime shot.”

Mark Boyle and Joan Hills

Mark Boyle and Joan Hills

Son et Lumiere for Earth, Fire and Water. 

Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet was the quintessential New York filmmaker | Inside Movies |


A young woman, jogging in the early morning with her camera slung around her neck  (vintage SLR Pentax), discovers the scene. At first glance the park below her seems decorated with what looks like an installation of sleeping people. The area is known for that kind of thing – she once jogged past 1000 porcelain toilet bowls filled with goldfish – so suspects no foul play as she stops and raises her camera lens, fixing her focus, moving from body to body. She counts fifteen, a mixture of male and female, all only wearing underwear. Their skin is covered in a white powder.  Eyes closed.

A large white van drives into the park, jerking to a halt as two men jump out.  They place fifteen black body bags in a long row on the grass next to their van, then proceed to collect the sleepers one by one, carefully placing each one into its zippered envelope.

The jogger lifts her camera to record this – what? performance? crime scene? – but finds that the shutter is stuck, forcing her to squint at the unfolding mystery on the green lawn of the park.

present tense

Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard


A line from Annie Dillard’s writing echoes what I strive for while stitching my new work (provisionally called “The Mysteries”) :  “Crystals grew inside rock like arithmetic flowers. They lengthened and spread, added plane to plane in an awed and perfect obedience to an absolute geometry that even stones – maybe only the stones – understood. ”

Obedience and absolute geometry.

'The Mysteries' | Willemien de Villiers

Willemien de Villiers: detail, “The Mysteries.”

 “Appealing workplaces are to be avoided,” Dillard also said, “One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.”
The last line – and sentiment – is irresistible. But surely that is what dreams are for.
 I need a room with a view.

I agree on Annie Dillards’s views on the human act of witnessing: “We are here to witness the creation and abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other. We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.”

I was witness to an ordinary 7 o’clock evening in Muizenberg, Cape Town, today and recorded the luminous pale pink hibiscus of February, the oppressive heat brewing tomorrow’s rain clouds across the bay, the steadfast soul of aloes.
The relentless cycle of death and renewal in nature feeds me.
the joy of now

the joy of now

pale veins

pale veins

fecund sky

fecund sky

a promise of rain

a promise of rain



aloe, released

aloe, released

What feeds your creativity?
Happy creating!

inspiring art by annabel rainbow


PAINTED QUILTS by ANNABEL RAINBOW: Life 4 – Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today?.

I had the good fortune to find the gifted fibre / fine artist, Annabel Rainbow, on the internet recently. With her permission, I’m sending you a link to her blog. You can find it  here. Scroll down to read more about the three quilts that make up Annabel’s “Life” series, exploring “…what it means to be a modern woman pulled in different directions by pressures of motherhood, domesticity and academic success. Her triptych sequence is broken into three poignant but satiric titles, Be the Change You Want, Switching Off, and Hello Dear. What Did You Do Today?, which maps the roles available to the modern woman.” (Helen Cobby review)

( About Annabel Rainbow) : “I have been making textiles since finishing City and Guilds in 2003, and have been painting since 2006.

I trained as a PA after leaving school and have worked for some very interesting people, but after my children were born, I spent many years as a special needs assistant in a local school, and taught shorthand at the local college. I’ve come to the creative arts a bit late in life, but am having a wonderful time expressing my feelings through observation and colour.

I am happily married to Graham, and have two beautiful, wonderful daughters. I live in Warwickshire and spend my days bumbling through life.

I am motivated by all sorts of random things; colour, movement, words, emotions, music, shapes etc., and delight at finding inspiration in odd places. Quite a lot of my work features very controlled movement of colour from yellow, to orange, red, green, and blue.”

Enjoy, and happy creating!

inspired by vladimir

last orchid 

present tense 

Crossing the courtyard back to my studio, mug of tea in hand, I noticed a late blooming of one of my moth orchids (Phalaenopsis orchids: Moth Orchid Care is Easy!). Feeling that this gift was wasted on my two dogs, whose sleeping quarters share the pink beauty’s place on a workbench at the back door, I cut and placed it in a small glass bottle on my work table.  This time of day the sun casts its last shadows in this room, and provided the perfect backdrop for the photo – and reminded me of another orchid, the (in)famous Lost Orchid painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff.

The Lost Orchid, Valdimir Tretchikoff


Refreshing my memory about this South African artist we love to hate, I found this delightful story behind the most-reproduced artwork in the world, Tretchikoff’s green-faced “Chinese Girl.”

Revealed after 60 years… the real Green Lady whose face is on a million living room walls | Mail Online.

I quote and paraphrase from the newspaper article (please click on the caption to read more): Russian-born Vladimir Tretchikoff always claimed his subject was a woman he met in San Francisco, when in fact it was a 17-year-old South African, Monika Sing-Lee.  She was working in her uncle’s laundry in Cape Town in the early 1950s.  Mrs Pon, now in her mid-70s, recalls that the artist approached her there and asked if she would sit for him. She remembers that men used to find her sexy and beautiful, but that “growing up in the apartheid era, everyone hated the Chinese and at home I was called ‘flat face’. So I never felt pretty.”

For two days a week over the following ten weeks, Monika posed for the Vladimir and 15 of his students in the sessions which produced the picture officially titled The Chinese Girl.

For another take on Tretchi, read this entry on the blog of South African Constitutional Law expert, Pierre de Vos: Why President Zuma is like Tretchikoff – Constitutionally Speaking. A slightly tenuous connection, but it made me smile.

Happy creating!

hiding in caves

Astigmatism – Psychology Wiki.

Astigmatism is a refractive error of the eye in which there is a difference in degree of refraction in different meridians.

In some cases vertical lines (e.g., walls) may appear to the patient to be leaning over like the tower of Pisa.

Caro is once again inside an eyewear shop, hoping to find the perfect frame for the glasses she needs to wear to see far, and properly, as she is severely astigmatic. She fancies a round frame as she believes it suits her face best, and adds a little pizazz to her otherwise matronly appearance. Round frames are very hard to find, she has recently realised after an extensive internet search; they must be thoroughly out of fashion – at least for now.

The shop she finds herself in, however, has a glass and beechwood display case filled with round frames. Tortoiseshell, colourful resin, gold, silver, pale horn.

The sales assistant walks towards her.

“I can’t believe this!” Caro gasps; one hand at her throat and the other trying to open the glass case.

Etsy Transaction – Vintage Tortoise Shell Eyeglass 

Caro tries on several frames, squinting to see her reflection in the small square mirror. The one she finally chooses costs R7 000.00, about three times the amount she wants to spend. Pondering this dilemma, she sees a display of padded bras on a shelf she hasn’t noticed before.  They are perky black ones, with tassels attached to their centres.  A crashing noise distracts her – turning around she sees her dog, a ridgeback named Sofia, at the door of the shop with a white-throated pigeon dangling from her mouth.

The assistant – as well-dressed as she is mannered – ignores the fracas and tells Caro that they have a 12-month credit plan, should she decide to buy the frame of her dreams.


History of Rhodesian Ridgeback.

The first proof of the existence of ridged dogs was a written reference near Cape town in 1719. The reference was to the indigenous dogs of the Khoikhoi (“people-people”, or “real people”), used by their owners and the European settlers to protect villages, cattle and sheep. By and large, these Khoikhoi dog crosses eventually produced bravery, ridges and a hatred for lions (although they do seem to get on well with domesticated cats).

Caro loves her new glasses and can’t wait to show her friend, S.  She walks into a room and finds S lying down next to her mother on a hospital bed. Caro double-knots the Shoprite bag she is holding (with a dead pigeon inside) and puts it in the corner of the room, then walks over.

“She’s gone,” S says. Her eyes and nose are red are swollen.

Caro lifts S’s mother’s hand. Her skin is soft as cornflour, still warm. Her eyes are not completely closed, and the brown irises visible through a narrow slit seem to glint a small, and probably insignificant, message.

Notes from a hospital bed: Dying to get home.

Later, a bus takes Caro home. The same one she used to take in primary school, often anxious about not having the right amount of change to give the habitually grumpy driver.

She feels that same anxiety now, as she fumbles for her purse to find three five-cent coins.

Fortune Cookie Coin Purse by Diana Eng : Wantist.

present tense

via imgfave.

The story of a certain New Zealand sheep, Shrek, resonates with me.  Successfully hiding in caves for six consecutive years, he was finally caught and shorn in 2004. His fleece yielded enough wool to make 20 suits.  His story is sadly poignant, yet ultimately uplifting – assuming that his owner was concerned about his welfare, as much as needing Shrek to earn his keep.

I love the idea of an introverted sheep. Maybe all sheep are introvert by nature?

finnfolk: shrek the sheep.

Greta Garbo, who is often misquoted as saying, “I want to be alone,” actually said, “I want to be left alone.” There is a difference.

Introversion has been on my mind lately – it seems to be a popular topic at he moment, as more and more introverts unite (separately) to fight for their place in the sun. I’m especially curious to find out how this condition impacts on my process of working – am I, like Margaret Atwood so succinctly says about writing, “…  like an uncooked egg deciding to to come out of its shell [with the] risk of spreading out too far, turning into a formless puddle.”?

Listen to Margaret Atwood talking about Oryx and Crake | Books |

 “All this talking, this rather liquid confessing, was something I didn’t think I could ever bring myself to do. It seemed foolhardy to me, like an uncooked egg deciding to to come out of its shell: there would be a risk of spreading out too far, turning into a formless puddle.”


Autobiographical work – which, I think, all great art is – leaves the artist vulnerable. Shorn, in fact. (Although whether my inhibitions and fears can produce anything as useful as 20 suits remains to be seen.) The line between shyness and introversion is a thin one: an introverted person is not necessarily shy, and vice versa. Shyness, which can be a crippling condition caused by caring too much about others’ opinions, is the reason some people hide from society. Introverts, on the other hand, simply often prefer their own company.

Do I sometimes hesitate to go to scary places because I fear the opinion of others, or to protect myself from having to engage in endless discussion about meaning (which I might prefer to keep private)? Is this question (to myself) even making sense? Does meaning matter? Does meaning have to be spelled out, verbalised?


I recently discovered pinterest ( Willemien de Villiers on Pinterest.) – an online collection of virtual pinboards where anybody can create their own visual collection of every topic under the sun – there are some WEIRD boards out there! – to share with like-minded individuals (who miraculously find you once your boards are up). I can spend up to two hours a day following links I find on this site, disappearing into a delightful labyrinth of inspirational imagery and information, mostly art- and nature-related. It is introvert heaven.

Oh, the joy of sharing visual inspiration without having to say or write a word.

Here are a few visual inspirations (and new-to-me artists) I found via pinterest –

Julie Cockburn: Daydreamer 2, 2011, collaged found photograph.
 Julie Cockburn.

Some People Knit | Masking tape, wood, concrete and metal | 210 cm x 160 cm x 140 cm, by Finnish artist Pia Männikkö.

Red thread Journal Dress, by Ruth Rae

let the beauty we love be what we do: Red Thread Journal Dress.

Happy creating – inside or outside the cave!

black southeaster inspiration

Pale pink vygies after the storm


The combination of a howling black south-easter and spring tides sends raging walls of water crashing over the sea-wall at Kalk Bay harbour in September 1983.

Picture : John Yeld, The Argus.


A rather chilly spring has blown into summer with yesterday’s almost-gale-force black southeaster. Although nothing compared to the beast of 1983, it howled loud enough to fry my nerves to a frazzle, unsettle the dogs and caused the cat to finally have a nervous breakdown. The southeaster, I am told, is a fairweather or trade wind that originates from the South Atlantic High (SAH) pressure system, moving southwards in summer as the westerlies retreat polewards. If you want to know more about things like the deep southeaster and the shallow southeaster, visit

Oh, the joys of the internet!

All Capetonians know the legend of  a villainous Dutch pirate called Jan van Hunks who lived at the foot of the mountain around the 1700s – a prolific pipe smoker whose wife chased him out of the house whenever he felt the need to light up. One day he met a mysterious stranger (who also smoked) on the slopes of Table Mountain. A contest ensued to see who could smoke the most – Van Hunks won, and the stranger turned out to be the Devil. To this day, whenever the southeaster blows, the Devil of Devil’s Peak and Van Hunks continue their challenge, each time obscuring the top of Table Mountain with their pipe smoke as they try out-do one another.

Photo essay: Clouds on Table Mountain – Blog – Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Photo courtesy Globe Trodden

The splendid tablecloth is part of an orographic cloud formation (see below), which normally forms during the summer months when Cape Town’s south to southeasterly winds push moist air against the mountain’s slopes. As the air rises, it cools, causing the relative humidity to increase. The moisture then condenses to form the world-famous tablecloth.

The image below is of an orographic cloud formation, from a downwind zone behind the Île Amsterdam, in the far southern Indian Ocean.


Orographic lift – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

“A gravity wave cloud pattern—analogous to a ship wake—generates a wave motion in the wind passing over it, creating regularly spaced orographic clouds. The wave crests raise and cool the air to form clouds, while the troughs remain too low for cloud formation. Note that while the wave motion is generated by orographic lift, it is not required. In other words, one cloud often forms at the peak.”

 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Map of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands in the Indian Ocean

Photo courtesy david.gill12

The infamous black southeaster sometimes inspires South African music –  Black South Easter is a group of five musicians who incorporate elements of afro-soul, dubrock, dance and reggae into their music. Vocalist Nhoza Sitsholwana, guitarist Dan Boshoff, bass player Jimi Curve, drummer Jerry Mbowa and violinist Carly Nauta mention that “… the band takes its name from the cleansing winds that blow across the Cape and bring in the fresh air that revitalizes and uplifts…”

Hmmm… certainly not while it’s blowing, but on the day after a storm the air is indeed purified and crystal clear, as its nickname of the Cape Doctor suggests.

Black South Easter | Presenter.

E’s main concern after the Big Blow was the vineyard and the very new and fragile bunches of grapes with chartreuse berries the size of pinheads. After a full inspection today it looks as if most of them survived with not too many trossies shriveled up or blown off.

The summer vineyard is a feast for the eye on a clear day like this, with intense colours splashed everywhere.

And maybe I wouldn’t have noticed and experienced it so intensely it if it wasn’t for yesterday’s wind.

Even the view from my studio looks new today – the last of the season’s arum lilies a proud sentinel among masses of nasturtiums, geraniums and vygies. The nasturtiums and vygies are in their final blooming phase and I drink in their saffron, flame and ruby hues while it lasts.

Happy creating!

collective womb

Kate arrives at a compound of women and children, Bolivian in appearance. All the women have two long, thin plaits hanging over their shoulders. Some are wearing mannish hats, but most of them leave their heads bare.

If a woman’s hair is too short to plait, Kate is told, one gets to choose a ball of hair from a colourful woven basket; many women seem to have chosen the glittering grey ones. The balls of hair look and feel real. Kate immediately feels at home in this strange new place, but also wants to leave. The foreign-looking women all feel familiar to her. Although no-one talks to her, their eyes look relaxed and friendly.

Kate feels no fear, even though she was taken early this morning from her florist shop, while busy selecting flowers for a wedding that afternoon. The basket of lilies and baby’s breath and a purple flower whose name she always forgets fell to the floor as she was pulled outside. She now worries about them; about how they will wilt and die. About the bride’s disappointment.

Mariposa lilies have erect stems and grasslike or fleshy leaves that grow from bulb-like roots.

 HowStuffWorks “Lily”.

Just before she was taken, Kate had taken a few bites from the various tartlets the caterer had made for the wedding, and now feels nauseous. The women milling around her are separated from their children – it seems the compound operates as a large collective womb, with the many children the responsibility of everybody.

In the distance, Kate can see a forest, and a deep gully. Purple shadows swoop into its many crevasses. The sight of this other world, beyond the boundary of the compound, makes her afraid.

Rocky Ravine

Caspar David Friedrich – MELT. 

Yet Kate decides to leave, suddenly anxious to find out if she is a prisoner, or not. She starts to walk towards the gates, then turns around to fetch a ball of hair from the basket – she chooses a salt-and-pepper nest that resembles her own shoulder-length hair. The gate is locked, with spikes on top.

An elderly man approaches her and tells her that it is possible to leave, but that she must give him the reason for her decision.

Kate tells him that her daughter will miss her if she’s not home by nightfall. He nods and opens the gate. It is dark, and the walk is arduous, he warns. She assures him that she feels no fear, and that she is strong.

Palestinian elderly man watches the Israeli soldiers demolishing houses in Al’ezaryieh village near Jerusalem January 30, 2007. (MaanImages/Fadi Tanas)

Pro-Israel Censorship Hurts Us All | The Electronic Intifada.

Kate starts walking towards the forest, and the mountain range that lies like a sleeping dragon among the giant trees. One path is too dark for her to enter, another is paved with glass shards. The mountain turns out to be frozen lava; sometimes smooth and warm, sometimes cold and razor-sharp. Her feet are bleeding by the time she finally finds the road that seems to lead to the very top of the mountain where she aims to rest, and to find out where she is.

Five Sacred Mountains Huangshan, China

Online Travel News: January 2012.


Kate is hurrying along the main road in Kalk Bay, near the harbour, holding her daughter’s hand. A long plait slaps against her back. The weather is wild, with waves splashing onto the pavement. Someone next to them points to the distant horizon and says, “Look, over there …something big is coming!”

Mother Nature Struts Her Stuff at Cape of Storms | Afrizen.

Surf’s up!  | Mail Online.

The dark wall that seems to rise through the haze of fog has the appearance of rock, not water.

Kate scoops up her child and starts to run home as fast as she can. Home is high on a mountain, and she knows that they will be safe there.

The next morning they leave nervously through their garden gate and walk back to the main road, expecting to see scenes of destruction and devastation.

 The Sea of Ice by Caspar David Friederich

STIMULATED – Brett Ginsburg.

Friederich was a master landscape painter in the first quarter of the 1800s. His works serve as still, calm interpretations of the landscape. This work in particular carries an overwhelming sense of (Kantian) disinterestedness as it traverses the line between something static and dynamic. It merely exists.”

They walk all the way back to the harbour, stunned by the deep silence that surrounds them.  The sun is shining high in the sky.

An enormous massif has risen from the ocean during the night; a circular wall that encloses the bay completely, walling it off from the open sea.

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the northeastern part of Vietnam in Quảng Ninh province. It is the country’s pride, and Vietnamese consider it the Eight Wonders of the world. Ha Long literally means descending dragons. The bay features thousands of karsts and isles.

Ha Long, Bay of the Descending Dragon | Travelet.

The rock is densely embellished with carved faces, like that of Mount Rushmore, except that every citizen of their land is represented. Turquoise water laps at the broad steps that surround the massive tidal pool formed by the newly-birthed mountains. Small groups of people have gathered to gaze in wonder.

Starting Down the Slippery Slope, 1999.

Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity – Ted Orland – Terra Galleria Artworks.

present tense doll

This rather disturbing image of a Japanese medical doll sans uterus and babies speaks to me on several levels. And how strange is it that the newborns are depicted as sculpted busts? – ready to leave the nest to take up their place in the world, or at least a mantlepiece, while the mother lies completely gutted and without defenses next to her discarded belly and pelvis.

The girlish position of her feet also makes me sad.

Whenever I approach the end of a cycle in my work, this is how I feel.

While working, I am inside a womb of my own making. The endless layering is an attempt to never give birth  – to myself? And yet, just as it is with a physical pregnancy, at some point the contractions come fast and furious and the baby is born.

The Birth, Willemien de Villiers

detail of Transparent Ovule, Willemien de Villiers

I have little over a week left to complete a series of works for an exhibition and resisting the pull of completion. It feels safe where I am now.

Soon, I will have no choice.

Time to sit still and breathe in and breathe out.

Happy creating!

in progress

More to follow soon, just wanted to share one sublime moment I recently experienced on the West Coast, near Darling. I wonder why it is so seductively easy to be mesmerised by an unfolding sunset – does the moment of transition from day to night offer an easy release?  A much-needed permission to switch off the thinking brain?

Never mind.

I was captured for almost an hour mind-and-all by this image on the evening of the 4th of October: the drama of the imposing (overly managerial?) clouds kept in check by the decisive line of Prussian Blue on the horizon.

happy creating and mooiloop!