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
July 2015. TJ Dema, a local poet and performance artist. Portrait commissioned by Regent Insurance Agents. The first part of her poem on "Dreams" included. Oil on canvas,
h: 1600mm x w: 8000mm
Struggling to bond with this lady, so I lost the hat and gave her a hair cut. I guess she is just going to be what she is in the end...
Its funny how a wide range of thinking and musing can suddenly come together and say, this is what it is, DO THIS.
Last year I began thinking about colour, wondering how I could make a range of works about colour in a figurative format. I couldn't clarify the thought though; I mean the WHY, WHAT of it all. I started here and then put it all aside: I have been calling it "Yellow Girl"
At the same time I made a new friend online, an artist based in the UK, making historical works, mostly battle scenes and the like. Initially our conversations were based on the technical aspects of oil painting, something I am learning about. Then one day in a conversation about the kind of subject matter we would like to paint, he said to me, "My customers tend not to be in touch with their 2nd Chakra" Hmm I thought. Interesting problem.
Many weeks later I stumbled upon an article on the 7 Chakras and learnt that there are colours associated with each: 1 to 7, root to crown. That was a bit of an ah ha moment. A potential hook to hang these images from. I also stumbled upon a poem that made it clear, my next painting will be Purple!
My last set of "works in progress"seemed to be enjoyed, so I will do the same with this painting, here's hoping it turns out well!
It was so interesting and inspiring to meet some of our local artists at the ART ATTACK this weekend. The Humans of Gaborone page has several great photos and quotes from a few of them:
Image: Velias, painter.
Researching history as the starting point to my current *big* project keeps sending me down rabbit holes that can take me days to emerge from. What to do with all this information!? I keep reminding myself, at the core of it all is people; my primary obsession. How hard can it be? RIGHT? On that note, have you checked out my side project? (sadly neglected when hermit working) Based on the "Humans of New York" phenomena. PS: I'm always happy to share any great Gaborone moments you catch yourself, share your pics to this page and I will gladly feature them:https://www.facebook.com/humans.of.gaborone
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.
Cecilia's and her Daughters: On arrival in 1688, Cecilia had three daughters; Elisabeth, Marie Jeanne and Jaquemine. From the Four women, three of them are "Stam moeders" or Maternal ancestors for countless hundreds of thousands of South Africans. Cecilia herself for the Des Prez /s line (Dupre, Du Preez etc) Marie Jeanne for the Theron line. Jaquemine for the Vivier line. Imagine what Cecilia would think of that!
A sad little story about Jaquemine's daughter and her daughter:
Jacquemine was only about 35 years old when she died in 1715. By that time her husband and his two unmarried brothers were already deceased. She inherited from all three of them.
Her children were cared for by her sister, Marie Jeanne. Great scandal transpired when Jacquemine’s daughter, Elisabeth, in 1717 gave birth to an illegitimate child fathered by Charl du Plessis. Charl was the husband of Cecilia van Marseveen , who happened to be Elisabeth’s cousin.
With the kind of Calvinistic “piety” of that time, Elisabeth was forced to give the name of the father while she was in labour. (She probably at first refused to say who he was and by doing so hoped to spare her cousin the embarrassment.)
"On 31 January 1717 on page 46 of the Drakenstein baptism register it was recorded in thick black ink so as to warn future sinners who might contemplate similar deeds and with the brand of Calvinism of that time: “Elisabeth, daughter of Elisabeth Vivier and Charl du Plessis, who is a married man and on account of this, a child of fornication and adultery”
The name of this unfortunate girl (the baby) brought up by the Du Plessis family, ended up on her mother’s death notice as “du Plaisir” — from pleasure — instead of Du Plessis. (Would it be possible that someone’s vindictiveness extended to punishing Elisabeth Vivier even in death?)
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.
The perfect antidote to all those portraits as an exercise, this new painting is an approx 2m square "window". Sometimes you just have to look up
"I went to medical school, where I realized I was spending most of my time customizing all my friends jeans, so I changed my studies to fashion design"
Aobakwe a fashion designer; seen here wearing his own creation.
Draw me Democracy; I Vote therefore I am, exhibition now open to the public. A great opening event was held last night hosted by the French Embassy to Botswana and the Alliance Française de Gaborone. @ University of Botswana, Student center, Blk 139. 13th Nov to 29th Nov.
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.
Painter and Sculptor