A thought experiment: What if you combined color theories?
I was curious to see what it would look like if you could see colors in the body associated with chakras, emotions and facial expressions and how they would correlate. Do they correlate? Imagine if this is what we could see in each other? Would it be easier to understand each other?
Wouldn't it be more accurate to define each other with a wider range of color descriptions beyond black, white and the blends of the two? And how very inaccurate that is anyway, if people were black or white, then surely the two combined would be grey? Strange that when we refer to a combination of black and white in people, we called them colored. Imagine how unpleasant it would be if we referred to them as grey?
And imagine if we turned blue when feeling sad. Funny that we do say that: "feeling blue" but never say "feeling red" or yellow, orange, green or purple.
In my Mannequin, I have combined the three theories, I think its a fun result.
After almost 18 months of making my dolls house, its finally no longer this thing in my head, what a relief not only for myself but for those around me to see what I've been aiming for...I've had a lot of head tilting puzzlement to contend with. Not helped by my mumbled explanation because I really didn't know what I was doing either. So now, here it is, this massive creation that happened.
Its been really interesting to witness how people respond to it. The most recurring reaction is this natural tendency to "dream into" it. This term "dreaming into" is something I heard from my friend Dain Peters, a practicing psychotherapist.
I have been aware of the therapeutic aspect of a dolls house my whole life, having lived in my own as a child. So this lovely phrase resonated for me. Of course, this is exactly what we do in play, this dreaming and enacting. (I had a giggle watching this grown man bending arms and legs of the mother doll, wanting to find a natural position for her to sit, This, his first time "playing" with a doll of any kind. "She looks too stern!" he says, tilting her head a little.)
He told me of a Doctor J.L. Moreno who came up with the concept of psycho drama. A practice that has been used for individuals as well as entire communities to understand and process trauma or conflict. The concept involves role play, story telling, and witness. This allows the protagonist to step back and view their own story from all sides. To analyse actions, thoughts and choices connected to an event or a problem.
Is this not what a dolls house allows also?
Our conversation led on to to all the details and layers in our lives and homes, these things that when represented in a dolls house allows the illusion of a reality. We dreamed together about the personal life this woman in the house may have, and the glaring absence of a male figure...because I haven't made one...yet.
The image of a bunch of letters tied with ribbon came up. Personal things; letters, jewelry, papers.
A treasure box in the house, things you wont or cant immediately see. What a sweet layer that would be .
The idea of course stuck and manifested in a little video complete with historical background and appropriate sound track. But there is a problem...I broke the law! of copyright that is. Due to the music the video was rejected by both Facebook and Instagram. so disappointing!
After hours of researching this rather dry subject I have managed a compromise. I have uploaded this video to YouTube and they have allowed it but with restrictions. Be warned, the video may not work on all devices, probably not on a cell phone or ipad but may work fine on a laptop or desktop PC. Also, it may be riddled with adverts. Ce La Vie. At least it remains as I intended.
The song in question is a sweet and poignant one, originally written for a screen play in 1945, it was put on the map later by Ketty Lester who sang it in a gospel style for the first time and gave it a whole new lease on life. This is the version I chose. It has been covered by so many others; Elvis, Tom Jones, Allison Moyet and many more in between and since.
The love letters themselves were written by famous people. Some surprising and some we all know about, like Beethoven's "immortal beloved" The copied letters (including Beethoven's) were written by Burt Reynolds, Winston Churchill , Zelda Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Hendrix. What a motley crew.
I hope you manage to view my offering and enjoy it. I know! its very sentimental but very much speaks to my own life and mood.
The love letters
My family and I are contemplating our futures after living in Botswana for more than 15 years; preparing to pull up those roots and hope like hell there is a good place to put them next. In this frame of mind its so comforting to get a message like this from a friend who knows exactly what its like:
"It's such a complicated business this leaving thing and sadly it's the price us white Africans pay for wanting to stay in the continent we were born and brought up in but will never feel wholly at home in. But at least you are going back to the country you have a birth right to - sadly I can no longer do that and nor would I much want to.
The difficult thing about any leave taking is who you leave behind and the state you leave them in. When you tell people you're off you get a selection of reactions ranging from the smug "aren't I lucky, I don't have to do that (yet)", to the slightly desperate "oh my god I wish I were them" with every possible emotion in between. As soon as you announce your intentions you become aware that you, and only you (apparently) are responsible for shaking up the status quo. Friends who you thought absolutely loved the place suddenly announce how much they hate it and, conversely, acquaintances who couldn't wait to be off suddenly exhibit a hitherto unnoticed patriotism akin to nationalism.
And what of you? The person leaving? Whatever you say in your pronouncements to friends and foe alike, you'll upset or please someone depending on a whole load of stuff going on in their head that you're not even privy to.
And the trouble is, it's easy to say it doesn't matter and it's just about you and your nearest and dearest. But it's not that simple. Because we aren't all islands much as we would sometimes like to be and it's at times like this that we realize we DO matter to some people and they matter to us but that there's also a whole load of people we couldn't care less for - and the surprising thing is we don't know which category they all fit into until that final wave goodbye.
So to sum up? You're in for a rough couple of months as you teeter on the brink of your new life and you may have to accept that your friends and acquaintances need to hug goodbye and say their piece and convince or reassure themselves that they're ok and you're ok and because you're who you are, you have to let that happen however hard it seems.
Does that help? Probably not. There's no easy way for this to play out. But you WILL survive and the day WILL come that you know you made the right decision and that some people were behind you all the way and others just drifted away..........and that's an incredibly valuable thing that not everyone gets a chance to take forward."
As a part time social media manager, specifically Facebook Pages, I have had to explain the workings to many, Some businesses would like to have a Facebook Page but are not Facebook users themselves at all. I have attempted to make an info graphic; it may just bee too much info though!! I hope its useful. Click here to download.
If you had to imagine colour, specifically the 7 chakra colours as a volume equalizer, the bottom beginning at the base of your spine, the top ending at the crown of your head, how tuned in would you say you are? My math is rounded off in the percentage bar.
Happy New Year to one all! I know! its already 8 days old but my New Year begins now.
I would have to say that 2014 was a challenging year to say the least, chock a block with extreme highs and lows. As you all know, that kind of year, while not easy, is bound to lead to growth; and it has! Ending the year with an online course to sort out my understanding of the business end of my artistic practice, has at the very least left me with a to-do-list of impressive proportions and I LOVE me a to-do-list!
I'm absolutely longing to get back into my studio, having spent allot of time on my computer with this course and tackling the biggies on my list, like this website. Check! (pats own back) ending the year with a week long yoga course that was both excruciating and fantastic. This in preparation for my next adventure (more on that in a moment)
Spring cleaning my studio, people, summer in Botswana means I have mud caked implements thanks to wasps, ten different kinds of scary spiders and gecko poop everywhere! A clean slate is required.
Some immediate highlights of the year to look forward to will be kicked off with a Solo Exhibition of our fabulous Ann Gollifer's work. Be sure to NOTE: Opening event on the 12th Feb and open to public from the 13th. Sophie lalonde Art Gallery, itower, CBD, Gaborone..... I know its going to be wonderful.
YAY! I'm so excited! I'm off to India with a dear friend (yep, sorry for that lovely Husband) for a week in Bangalore! I have not been off the African continent for 20 years people! On the agenda is yoga, heeaavy breathing, delicious
Ayurvedic treatments and (obviously) I have high expectations of the shopping!
And thus beggineth 2015. Lets do it!
PS: The world is going mad..yes...Lets not go to the dogs ourselves, lets be mindful about doing things that make ourselves happy in order to spread some joy. The timing of assaulting our peace of mind with events like the Paris shootings yesterday, at the BEGINNING of our year, is not by accident. Chins up people!
I have come believe that growing your career is like driving a car. The car will go where you eyes are focused. If you are distracted by the side of the road, you might just end up there!
I have spoken about this before, the subject of receiving feedback on your work as an artist. It comes in many forms and flavors and can a result in a myriad of feelings about your self and your own work. I have been confused, devastated, irritated, pleased, flattered, amused and more, of course, from all of those moments the best result is some sort of growth and the worst a wound needing licking for way too long.
But every now and then someone takes the time to have a whole conversation about how they see your work, why and what they feel about it; be it good or bad, that guarantees the outcome of growth and the experience of gratitude, one of the best feelings in the world.
Yesterday I received this message, of the best feedback I have ever been given. I hope they don't mind my sharing it.
I admire your work. Your technique is mature and sure and you capture a message in every face and in this case, in the pose and drape of the body.
Your water colours set a professional standard and some of the works we have seen on many exhibitions in Botswana cannot compare. This remains a very illusive technique and many paintings are lost because of overwork. Yours are "clean" and the beautiful harmony of painted and unpainted surface, used to emphasize the mood or expression, is never compromised.
I know this is acrylic and I thoroughly enjoy the pose of his lanky body and the contrast between this well clothed body, the rich texture of his suit, and the sparse setting of the room and him sitting on a building block. It does not matter that he is a celebrity as the picture is more than the person.
I write this as I have the perception that artists, like in all arts, appreciate why people enjoy their work. It will be sad if they buy it just because they can. I travel every year just to visit one or other exhibition. I love it. Realism and portraits are making a huge come back in Europe except perhaps in Germany. But with some tweaks, or what will be the point of growth.
Hopefully, we will in time acquire one of your water colours. We will take good care of Juju boy.
ANON: "We are the chosen. My feeling is that in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again. To tell the family story and to feel that somehow those who went before know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as if it were in our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us; tell our story! So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told my ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us” How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
I go beyond just documenting the facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference, and saying - "I can't let this happen". The bones, here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life to their family. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us, that we might be born who we are, that we might remember. So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation, to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those, young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones."
Four years after arriving in the Cape, Hercules and Cecilia were allocated a farm in Paarl (1692). They called it De Zoete Inval. A literal translation is "a sweet falling in" but that's a bit nonsensical. "Inval" can also mean things like"thought" "incidence" "foray" all of which makes more sense considering they would be the first human beings to make a permanent home there, the first to stick a hoe into the soil. It must have been an intimidating "foray" into the unknown . I'm happy to report its still there! I plan to visit when next in the Cape.
Hercules died not long after, around 1695, leaving Cecilia to fulfill the obligations to the "Company", being the creation and maintenance of a road over the Bergriver and handing over a 10th of her crops. "Cecilias road" existed for generations. She remarried in 1700, already in her 50's.
Every now and then I get absolutely side tracked into community activities. Its Poster for Tomorrow time in Gaborone again. Brushes and paint are put aside and I look forward a week of hearing from our people, what gender issues are at play in our city and what our young designers will come up with in answer to them.
from the students brief, for the Balancing Genders workshop starting on Monday at Limkokwing Botswana:
"In order to assist you with the design thinking process, you will have the opportunity to hear from a number of speakers, from Botswana, who will be introducing you to a variety of gender related issues. The speakers will be talking to you as professionals, as well as from personal experience.
In order for this process to be beneficial to you and your design output, you are advised to approach the insight from the variety of speakers with sympathy and empathy.
# Sympathy means that you may not understand or feel what they feel, but you have compassion for them. For example, you may not have experienced divorce in your personal life, but based on what the speaker explains to you, you are able to feel for them.
# Empathy, on the other hand, means that you may have experienced something similar, and are able to relate. For example, you may be from a single parent family and relate to the experiences that another single parent relates, regarding their own experiences.
The insight you will gain from the speakers is not meant to define the direction that you will focus your poster design, but rather to expose you to a variety of informed opinions about gender related issues in Botswana (that you may or may not know about, or necessarily agree with). This insight, as well as the creative direction from the workshop Facilitator, should go a long way in informing your final design output.
The overall goals of this workshop are therefore to:
• Promote democratic values and human rights awareness
• Create a bridge between designers in developed and developing countries
• Transform every participant into an ambassador for human rights"
If you have ever met a woman, you will know, its ALWAYS about the hair. What can be done with it is fascinating to me particularly for African women, who continuously explore the myriad of options of what to do with the stuff. Like walking artworks, I am continuously in awe. While I have one hairstyle, always, with my limp, straight, fine hair, these ladies can change overnight, suddenly appearing with long or short, braided or sculpted confections.
Wow! What a night! A HUGE Thanks to all whom came to the opening, it was a phenomenal gathering, a warm and fuzzy reminder of what a great community we have. MOM! thank you for driving all the way to be there. Sharon Dutton, you spoke brilliantly just as I knew you would. Aldo, thanks for the flowers! SOPHIE! you outdid yourself and have added a whole new dimension to the art world, a big congratulations to you. Am so happy to report that 7 pieces found the perfect homes. Opening night sales? quite a feat. The chalk wall is something to see, wow...and wow...
So, acres of bubble wrap and kilometers of tape later, paintings are ready to go to the gallery. I have to question the wisdom of large scale canvases....note to self! The framed pieces are all sensible though, and looking so stunning! well done Gallery Anne, you did a great job with that! Am astounded that I have amassed 35 pieces for this showing. Excited!
My exhibition is set for 13th Feb 2014. So excited! Sophie Lalonde Art, itower, Gaborone.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/232683210247423/
Illustrations of Kids from the four corners of Central Botswana.
I find it really interesting how diverse the genetic soup of such a tiny population of only 2 million bodies is.
All of these little faces from; Gaborone in the South East, Ghanzi in the west, Rakops in the North Boteti sub-district, Serowe in the East of the central district, hailing from tribes such as Basarwa (Bushmen) in the west to Bamangwato in the east and all the variations in between, and a touch of European in some cases, can call themselves Motswana, the people of Botswana, the land.
A small sample to illustrate the idea I know.
So, once upon a time, on the 14th of Feb 2013 (Valentines day) to be exact :) I dragged my friend Ann off to the station to photograph the people. I was nervous about doing this alone so needed her support because people have varying reactions to a camera for one and a white person with a camera especially. From what they tell us, people from organisations like the BCC for example (their words) come and take pictures, then make a fortune with them.
Well I don't know that I'm ever going to get that right! Non the less, once reassured that we are locals, the peeps are happy to pose and enjoy our company. The funny thing is, all my photos are so bad! it was a baking 40 odd degrees of full summer heat, heightened by all the tar and paving and I was shooting from the hip quite literally. But, they have given me allot of material to work with.
Here are the ladies at the "hairdresser", the hairdresser being a plastic covered makeshift structure with an old backseat from a car on one side and just some plastic garden chairs on the other, both under the pedestrian bridge at the station.
Being Valentines day, the place was abuzz with a special excitement, all the girls clutching red plastic roses and getting pretty. We had to photograph each one, in various poses holding various items pertaining to the occasion; the stall next door was a "florist" who had red plastic flower arrangements of all sorts that were borrowed for photos and a fellow in the wings selling floral gift bags was roped into the impromptu shoot as well.
All those photos were awful, all the attention being somewhat stressful for me as a seriously amateur photographer, except these two, both unable to move as they were confined to the chair mid hair-do, one friendly and the other trying very hard to ignore the ridiculous goings on. FYI I did receive permission for every picture.
PS, I'm sure Ann's photos of that day would have been awesome, but she had her car, camera and laptop stolen from her in Johannesburg shortly thereafter. sorry Ann. X
You know Ann of course, an internationally renowned visual artist, who has spent much of her life in Botswana, forging close relationships with the Kuru arts Project, bringing us a beautiful account of the life of Dada, a bushman artist. Of Guyanese and English decent, her story is rich and complicated; her children are of that Swedish African flavour.
Her career is an inspiration of determination and fortitude. Her work ethic as an artist is admirable, her values as a person and a mother are too.
Who has not noticed the graffiti in Gabs? Do you know that the kids in this small movement are purists? There are some that treat it as a serious art form. Driving past I see walls used like sheets of blank paper, practising and perfecting the typography of their tags.
As a graphic designer I understand the repetition as they work on the letter forms and icons relevant to their lives. Imagine a group of youngsters in deep concentration and long discussion of the craft and precise form of the “S” that differentiates one artists hand from another, the critique on how close I came, or not, in replicating these letter forms on the canvas.
As a mother I celebrate the youthful wisdom in their graffiti statements like mantras on the streets of the city. Shouldn’t all kids be telling each other that “your fear of looking stupid is holding you back”? It’s sweet and encouraging. Of course it’s also illegal and galls many a boundary wall owner. For this reason I give you an avatar, this is not a portrait of an actual person, but a representation of an attitude while preserving the anonymity that protects them.
These are our children Botswana, a cauldron of rebellious creativity, connected and informed beyond our imagining. In what may appear as senseless destruction there is also a conversation marking the walls for anyone to see, voices to hear if you take the time listen.
I want to show you the Swedish community of strong, tall, blond people, who live with one foot in Europe while completely integrated in the local community of Botswana, who raise tough African children who know exactly what being Swedish is about; embodied by the gorgeous Ulrika.
My children have brought many connections. I first met Jackie at a pick up from a playdate and knew her for years after; an acquaintance, a mother and a professional person around town. Illustrating so perfectly that people are seldom simply what they appear to be, I was surprised to witness her in the full glory of another persona. When our cousin came to Botswana to graduate as a Sangoma, Jackie was there, a matriarch figure and in this environment utterly herself, the beads she always wore now making perfect sense.
You see her here proudly watching the new graduates arrive from a final ritual, her skirts sprayed with blood just after slaughtering a chicken in celebration. It was then that she showed me the birds that were her companions; she called them “LBJ’s” (little brown jobs). I chose a mouse bird to represent them; I think it’s what she meant. Sadly Jackie has passed away and has left a hole in the landscape as people do when they are suddenly gone.
I'm a painter, scribbler, emerging artist, amateur photographer, searcher.