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Archive for March, 2013

Under an African Sky

Five days in Johannesburg – everyone thought it was madness, how wrong can people be!! There was JAG (Johannesburg Art Gallery) with collections from the traditional to a brilliant Picasso collection and the wonderful New Jerusalem sculptures of Jackson Hlungwane and a very funny temporary exhibition ‘Venus at Home’ by Usha Seejarim. We visited the Hector Pieterson Museum and the Apartheid Museum where I sought out the Steve Biko story and then stumbled on the film ‘Cry Freedom’ one night in our hotel. Having already, on a previous visit, been to Robben Island I was reminded again of “man’s inhumanity to man”. We were fortunate to go to the theatre in Joburg and were entranced by the brilliant actors Atandwa Kani & Nat Ramabulana in ‘The Island’.

In store however were stories and Museums about the origins of man – skulls to fondle and mountains to climb to reach the Rock Art. Have I learned my five tribes properly Zulu (warriors), Pedi (kilts) Xhosa (Nelson Mandella), Basotho (Prince Harry & pointed hats) and Ndebele (artists & painted huts)? And the sixth tribe The Voortrekkers! Joining in the Giant Ingoma that included miners in orange boiler suits & Wellington boots. Where did we first eat ostrich or crocodile or eland or kudu?

On to KwaZulu Natal (Nirvana) Natal (Stuart McM) and Zulu camp, sleeping in stone huts like The Flintstones with programmes to attend. Are we initiated yet – probably after our visit to the Sangoma. We crossed Meteor craters (some people on foot) and battlefield sites (Isandlwana where the Zulus under King Cethswayo defeated the British in 1876) on the way to Durban.

Highlights are always the unexpected and the unknown, for example: the Totem Meneghelli gallery in Joburg with African art & artefacts piled high on benches and racks (you didn’t know where to look next); the Phansi Museum of costume and tribal traditions in Durban with a brilliant curator/guide Phumzile Nkosi; being taken to the best market stall in SA to buy beads; being fed dried mango strips to aid rapid digestion; tasting delicious Sally Williams Finest Nougat and drinking Savanna Dry cider (now on special on offer at Sainsbury’s). Finally a visit to Ardmore Ceramics, a story of love and extraordinary creative art (I bought what I could carry; see picture).  Finally, I will always remember looking at the stars at night in the Drakensburg Mountains and really seeing what the Milky Way looks like under a clear African sky.

Ndebele Cultural Village Yoruba Diviner's Puppet, Totem Meneghelli Gallery J'BurgArdmore ceramicsOstrich steakChairmanPhansi Museum, Durban

 

 

 

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Herons nesting in Alexandra Park (pictured by Gus) Feb 2013

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Picture (by Gill) of the Keith Vaughan Textiles seen on surprise ‘behind the scenes’ visit with Frances Pritchard.

Hope everyone has voted for Richard Wentworth in the art prize competition?

Quote from Polly Toynbee’s article in today’s Guardian for the benefit of non Guardian readers.

“So how might Britain earn it’s living?” Finance is in ruins so what are we still good at?

“Two exports rich & ripe for growth are our universities and arts, as valuable to life here as for the wealth they earn abroad………Look now at all the arts – theatre, music, painting, video installations, dancing writing and the rest – punching magnificently above our national weight…………The Arts Council’s minuscule budget took another hit last December. Liverpool, Manchester or Brighton leaders will extol what art does for their cities, in the cashable and the ineffable.”                      Read the full article on the Guardian website.

Meanwhile preparations are underway for expedition/adventure to South Africa. Been vaccinated; got the Rands; found old hideous rucksack (freebie from a conference). Not buying jogger’s water bottle will have to make do with ordinary one from supermarket. Still decisions to be made – I don’t have any long sleeved tee-shirts, I’ll have to dig deep into the wardrobe, might find something suitable.

Special love and hugs for Adele on the recent sad death of her father.

Sorry did something odd with pictures in previous Blog

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