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Its that time of year again, you know? Its that crazy time of year again when everything is happening. The last curtain call and everyone is on stage, before the show ends and we enter 2016.

If there ever was a tumultuous year, this was the one. 2015 has seen much discontent culminating in the student marches to the (self-serving and disconnected) president at the Union Buildings, not even two weeks ago. At last, the voices of of the future of this beautiful country are being heard, not quite in harmony but at least not singing a defined political tune. Let the momentum of this bring us back to sensibility.

On a personal level there were lots of ups and downs. I don’t think I have ever been as productive as this year. Many exhibitions and sales to boot, keeping the home fires burning. Trips are planned to expand my creative reach (more to follow later). A grand show of Southern African glass will take place during Cool Capital at the Pretoria Art Association by the end of next year which Dr. Ingram Anderson and I are curating. In March a solo exhibition at Long Street Art Lovers is already stimulating my focus.
Like all journeys one has to traverse the dark valleys to get to the other side. Luckily the view from the next hillock inspires “Fortschritt”.

So, here we are. November 2015. I’ll turn 42 next week. Still feel 25 though…

One of my highlights this year was a Roger Ballen photographic workshop coordinated by the Alternative Print Workshop’s Dennis and Janus. We had a derelict building at One Fox Street, down town Johannesburg, to our disposal. “Bring props”, they said, and we did. I thoroughly enjoyed the environment of learning by doing. Roger made his rounds through the building and gave us 16 participating photographers tips, comments and compliments.
This interaction has been invaluable to my photographic “eye”. As I told Roger, we were busy taking pictures and he came around sprinkling a few grains of salt here and there, sharing his magic with us, making us look at the small things, the details.

Thank you Roger! God is indeed in the detail.

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Summer is not hiding behind the veil of Spring. It is hot and the days are dry. Today my little Sunday cycle took me to a spot I haven’t been for a long time – Roodeplaat Dam, next to the dam wall.

In my youth we took visitors from overseas to the wall, as you could actually walk on it to see the overflow gushing down into the valley below. I even recall a photo of me wearing a Spiderman T-shirt and imitating Rabobi.

I am glad to have taken the camera. I have always enjoyed taking photos and got my first real camera from my Dad, a Canon snappy x or something. It was an orange 35mm point and press gadget. My Dad had a Olympus OM1 which I used as a student for my photography. I still have that old mechanical wonder although its light sensor is broken.
This probably influenced my future choices of cameras as I am shooting with a OMD E-M5 now. Another reason is that I have really great manual lenses, 35 and 50mm, and an adapter ring to use on the new digital 4/3 format. These lenses have a nostalgic quality to them, almost like one is looking back in time through them.

Below are a few shots taken this morning. I am experimenting with Pareidolia, suggesting faces or familiar association within nature.
I’m consciously exploring the elements for this ongoing research…

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What a week! What a month!

Several exhibitions are lined up for the next few weeks.

Tomorrow evening, the 1st of October sees the opening of “Abundant Abstraction” at Art It Is. This is a new gallery just down the road from the “Gallery Strip” on Jan Smuts Ave, Rosebank.

Next week the Clover Aardklop Festival opens in Potchefstroom with two group shows which I am part of.
The first is titled: “Games People Play” curated by Yannis John Generalis, Gordon Froud and co-curator Doreen de Klerk.
The show takes place at the North-West University (NWU) Botanical Gardens and Art Gallery in Potchefstroom. The exhibition will feature artists Angus Taylor, Izanne Wiid, Jaco Sieberhagen, Sybrand Wiechers, Jan van der Merwe, Steven Bosch, Neil Nieuwoudt, Richardt Strydom, Eric Duplan, Yannis John Generalis, Belinda Leontsinis, Kevin du Plessis, Gordon Froud, St. John Fuller, Dirk Bahmann, Vusi Mxolisi Beauchamp, Lothar Böttcher and others.
(https://www.facebook.com/The-Games-People-Play-839233689523783/timeline/)

The second, and notably ground breaking exhibition titled: “Betwixt & Between”, curated by Thabang Monoa, and explores contemporary Glass Art in Southern Africa. This will be the first of its kind show, on the visual arts “stage” for any of the major art festivals in South Africa.
Participating artists include: Retief van Wyk, Martli Jansen van Rensburg, Thabang Monoa, Bongani Dlamini, Liesl Roos, Rayan Manuel, yours truly and more.

Many happy tidings and hope to see you at one of these exciting shows.

Instalens

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So many positive things have happened during the past few weeks. This uplifting wave has opened up new possibilities and opportunities.
Looking back, this year has flown past. Is this due to me getting older? I guess the days are filled with more tasks that need completion and that is exactly what I am doing – getting shit done!
Business has been slow and sales few and far between. This absence of “distractions”, such as orders, has forced me to use my skills and what is at hand. Old projects were dusted off and tackled with new vigour. Using bits and pieces literally lying around, such as rocks and steel, my creative process and the resulting narrative has become focused and confident.
It actually frightens me how these energies are flowing, almost effortlessly. Drawings are becoming real objects and real objects are reflecting my inner thoughts. Mostly positive…, considering the reality we have to deal with daily.
I guess I have always been on the “glass is half full” side, optimistic but yet realistic that any positive change and progress takes a lot of effort. You’ll only climb a mountain by taking the first step and going forward. Not all decisions will be right and some paths lead you astray. As long as you are aware of this and keep going…
And this brings me to the opening statement. The last few weeks have given me returns on my investments. My time, sweat and blood have resulted in appreciation and sales of my sculptural work.
I thank all of my family, friends, supporters and believers for nudging me up this huge rock on my journey. I hope to give you a hand along the way too so that we can keep on  celebrating life together.
Rock on!!

Blossom.

Go outside and see life emerging from nooks and crannies. It is almost Spring and nature is reactivating, energy’s emerging everywhere and things are blossoming…

 

Blossom is on show at Art It Is for “Upcycle Chic”

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Chasing the Sun, written by Richard Cohen inspired “Shine”. In his book Cohen explores the meaning and connectedness we have with our closest star. From this vantage point my vision of who we are and where we come from broadened.
Dividing night and day with sunrise and sunset as we rotate around our own axis, the sun splashes our humble existence with visible light as we labour in its heat on the surface of this planet, the only place we can call home in the known universe.
As Carl Sagan also mused, the sun and stars in general are the engines which “manufacture” all the elements within our universe through the process of fusion. Every supernova or exploding star ejects these bits and pieces that our world and everything on it are made of. What Sagan said is that the cosmos is in us, we are made of “star stuff” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xaj407ofjNE)
This thought echoes my mother’s words which her father told her on explaining religion: “God is in you.”
I agree, our gods are in us all…

 

“Shine” is available at Dimitrov Gallery, Dullstroom

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The meaning of making art – a personal opinion, July 2015

Life is a journey and not a destination. The German version of this saying tolls: Der Weg ist das Ziel, which translates “the road is the destination”. Isn’t it ironical to consider myself African from a German decent…      (…does it leave a backdoor open? Why do i want to stay?…)

Making things and visualizing ideas is a journey. Often you end up in some bewildered place with no words or language to describe your creation and sometimes you discover a hidden valley of light and beauty. Such is the path of the creative.

At some stage you realize these truths. Failure is but a detour, an essential part of the journey, and success, an oasis to heal your parched lips. Then you set off on your next creative adventure. Your compass is the rising sun and often the itinerary changes as you go along. One thing is certain; you are constantly moving in a direction of accomplishment. When you should be standing still the possibility of progress and change is reduced, close to zero. So, best to keep on moving, keep on making and grow your abilities.

Learn through your process. Don’t be stupid. Although at first you will make many silly mistakes (which are an essential part of the process of learning and a sign that you are not standing still) your failures strengthen the determination of your focus.

You only have one life. There is only one moment to get the shit done. This fleeting moment must be used to its fullest potential. Make many mistakes. Don’t repeat them though. Most important, see your concept through. Finish what you started, even if it looks like a kak idea half way through. Finish it (and compensate). Remember, all you do is part of a journey. Make the most of it. There are destinations but the ultimate one is the journey itself. See your ideas through. Be determined in your travels, otherwise you’ll go around in circles.

Learn a craft. (Music, writing, drawing,…) Especially something challenging. Something that is not easy! Spend at least three years learning it from a master. Ask questions. Ask intelligent questions because you are intelligent. Sweep the floor and clean the tools. (I still do that every day.) Respect yourself and respect your work. Don’t chase a salary because that little monster will eat you alive… Love what you do and learn; you only learn when you are challenging yourself; you experience new adventures when life is a journey, so, its like holiday all the time… (…all above is based on perfect conditions and most of all a positive attitude …)    ….)a DreamScape narrative ecology…(…few actual holidays and lots of experiences…)
Q: Why do you do the shit you do?

(…global economy…? …are there alternatives?…)
I am not a religious person but do believe in spirituality. My Mother always said that god is in you. This gives me strength. God is in everyone!

It honestly is no clear-cut concept determining what one does for a life. Many factors play a roll. Should you take any random person on this planet and ask them why they are what they are they’ll …
Never mind that thought. Make up your own mind.

Why do I do the shit I do? I love the material I work with. I love the fact that so few people know how to work glass by hand. We all use it on a daily basis but have no idea of how it is made or where it comes from.
Mental Exercise: Remove glass from the world you live in… What do you see?

I feel special.

I am one of very few people on this planet that can do what I do. Within the makers of stuff this subcategory of: coldworkers, we all have our specialities. I use the materials at hand and apply the techniques which are known to me and enhance them. (Thank you to my Masters! Watching you and learning to be fearless is dawning on me.)

My sculptures refer to the above statements. They are part of my journey. I love what I do and every challenge gives me inspiration to complete and see the result of my labours; grow my knowledge of the process and material. Is it craft? Yes, ,maybe. Is it art, yes definitely. My work is a personal diary of the journey I am on through this fleeting moment called life.

When I am dead the journey ends.

My work is a personal map of my journey.

 

 

Images to follow.

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Tswaing crater just North of Pretoria is one of the greatest day hikes in my neck of the woods. Even the drive up to the old “Soutpan” takes you through unfamiliar terrain, instilling a sense of adventure. Taking the Soutpan road you pass through parts of Soshanguve, an ever growing settlement established by the previous regime. The name Soshanguve is an amalgamation of the various tribes names that were settled in the area back then. Sotho, Shangaan, Nguni and Venda.

I haven’t been up this way for some time and couldn’t miss the new shacks and houses that have emerged from the barren ground. This is the real South Africa. This is where most of the population lives, in townships, far away from the gated communities and golf estates.

The concrete fence of the Tswaing reserve is in tatters. Maybe the beams have been salvaged as construction material for the surrounding housing developments? (Incidentally, the friendly and helpful lady at reception mentioned that they struggle with poachers in the reserve.) Entering the gate you notice that part of the large Tswaing visitor’s center has been gutted by a fire. A skeletal ruin which will be echoed later on in the journey when one passes through the ruins of the old salination plants.

The Tswaing experience has never been cold and this hike was no exception. Although it is the middle of our Winter the mercury must have been in the mid twenties. Luckily I took a hat and lots of water.

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Jozi(Pty)Ltd2015

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Tonight, 02 July 2015, sees the opening of Jozi(Pty)Ltd. at Art It Is Gallery. This is a group sculpture exhibition featuring Lucas Thobejane, Gordon Froud, John Moore and Lothar Böttcher. Several younger and upcoming artists are also taking part in this contemporary collective of creative explorations.

The show will run till beginning August. Please follow this link to Art It Is for more information.

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