Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Witness Hilton Art Festival


For those of you interested in a dose of good culture in great variety ALL in one place, come on to the Hilton College, 15mins from Pietermaritzburg this weekend. Only a two day affair but contains all the energy and stimulation needed for an escape into creativity.

The hub of setting up, scaffolding, jolly cheer, focused direction was all apparent on my visit to the stately looking grounds yesterday. Even the grand old fat trunked trees were wrapped ready for the event. Princess and I put up my exhibition to the left of the entrance to the Centenary Hall.

I will be presenting a talk on the POWER OF HEALING IN THE VISUAL ARTS: benefits for the brain and social awareness. This takes place in the Centre for Innovation Lecture Theatre at 10 :00am Sunday 15th September .

Making Art is certainly not frivolity, in fact it is becoming very much a necessity in todays fast paced world...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Silence of the Lands

Silence of the Lands 
You are invited to an exhibition by;
Joan Martin, Lara Mellon, Maggie Strachan and Ana Pereira de Vlieg
Tuesday 18th June at 6:30pm until Saturday 6th July 12 noon
@ Fat Tuesday

Bellevue Campus - Bellevue Road - Kloof – 031-717-2785/9
Cash Bar Downstairs or call ahead to book a table for supper at Bellevue Café
(031) 717-2780
As with previous art exhibitions at Fat Tuesday (Two Goats and a Dog - 2011, Lost Found & Stolen - 2012) this exhibition is as much about our relationship with one another as the development of our art. This time our group has been expanded by the inclusion of Ana Pereria De Vlieg.
At our initial meeting we came up with the idea of landscape as a theme. All four of us have explored landscape in one form or another in our previous artwork.
Some of our early attempts at a title for this exhibition included “Land Claims” and “Land (re)claimed” but both were rejected for their political association. We have recently settled on the title “Silence of the Lands” this was inspired by the following quote “Where the river is deepest it makes the least noise.” Lara Mellon was instrumental in coming up with this title and she says: “There’s an unsettled quietness in all our work … a peaceful threatening …” 
In order to challenge each other and underline our association we decided to all approach the method of making art for this exhibition in a particular way. Each of us selects an image and shares it with the other three - specifying a particular format i.e. A4, A5 etc. We all paint from the same reference image and share the results at our regular meetings, which occur about once a month.  Each artist can submit as many versions as she wants of the same image, as long as the same reference is used.  These monthly meetings are held at Durban Girls’ College Art studio in the afternoons where informal crit. sessions are conducted.
Maggie Strachan – Red Earth  – 15x15cm

Joan Martin – Ana’s Gold – 15x15cm

Lara Mellon – Sienna Soil – 15x15cm

Ana Pereria De Vlieg – Tilled Soil – 15X15cm

Tues 18th June 6:30 – Exhibition to be opened by Joan Martin
Sat 22nd  June 10:30 -  Walkabout from a psychological perspective with Estelle Hudson, Narrative and Family Therapist
Sat 29th June 10:30 – Walkabout from an artist perspective with  Jeanette Gilks, Fibre Artist and Art teacher

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Pencil Sketch by Zelda Davidson

Those of you familiar with Scot Peck’s work, “The Road less travelled “ is reported to have said “ life is difficult, acknowledge it and move with it” . There is no perfection on this side of heaven but there are tools freely available that one can use in coping.

Just recently BBC has been running a series on THE POWER OF ART .
There is growing evidence that art has therapeutic benefits . The example given is that of a leukaemia patient who said his art therapy classes made him feel like he could do anything! Nothing else could compare to this escape.

 Art involvement has been known to boost one s immune system because of its positive psychoneuro immunologic response.

In teaching I have documented how students feel like a spin-wheel, dislocated and frustrated with self and the world. They leave more connected and more at peace.

Calendar, photographer unknown
Recently I gave Zelda Davidson an exercise to do in class before continuing onto painting. A big mummy elephant behind the little babe. I was fascinated at her interpretation of it. In Davidson s drawing the babe has become the focus of the artwork. It is bigger in the foreground and has been well worked and moulded. It's very lines and shading is testament to the time spent forming this youngster. It was not surprising that Davidson focused on this element of the image as she had just returned from settling both her children in another city 1660 km away from home. This was her first experience of the "empty nest syndrome".

 The mother as in her image fades away into the distance and no longer stands beside the youngster but behind it, allowing the youngster to have it's turn on centre stage. I am reminded here of the bible verse..." train up a child in the way s/he should go and when s/he is old s/he shall not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) . We all have to trust in this process called life. With it comes it's seasons and it's cycles.

 Zelda Davidson is a remarkable women and mother and artist. Watch this space. One day I will link her name to her own website.

This is what Zelda had to say of the exercise"... it was for me a connective piece to my emotions. Interacting with art on a deeper level is much more fascinating, and therapeutic, and gives us the chance to connect the physical with spiritual and emotional dimensions of self. Often we are developing skills in art, attempting to make a “good copy” or “rendition” or “interpretation” of something, but art gives us a far wider and deeper opportunity to “connect”. For me this exercise drew me – the whole of me – in."

I have observed in the past one of my family members battling with the death of a beloved animal and it was writing that brought him to a place of peace.

One of the top military hospitals in Washington D.S use writing as a therapeutic tool for soldiers sent to Afghanistan suffering from post traumatic stress Disorder. Some go as far as to say that “ Writing eventually saved them” (BBC  feb, 2013)

In the latest IDEAS magazine(March 2013) there is conclusive evidence that art and craft aids one in making sense of everything.  Whether Art is used as a form of creative outlet in opposition to the rituals and routine of daily living, or it might be used to look internally, as a tool for introspection, for getting acquainted to self. Peace may be found in the "soothing rhythm" of knitting or the gentle brushstrokes onto a canvas. It might be found in the act of writing, of painting, of transferring thought through the brain, down the arm into the hand and onto another surface. 


What is the value of Art in Society today.

As governments and organisations increasingly have to justify spending, the big question remains: does investment in the arts stimulate growth, or are the arts the product of economic development?

By Art, I include fine arts, performing arts with it drama, singing, choreography, film, media, and writing too. 

It is documented that Arts and culture in the US, by visiting a gallery or buying a ticket to the theatre alone generated approximately $135.2 billion and supported about 4.1 million jobs in the year 2010 alone.(Economic snapshot from "Americans for the Arts")

Think tanks( the US Bureau of Economic Analysis .BEA) in cities are coming together to try to find some way to measure the economic impact of the Arts. They are predominantly exploring the link between the arts and job creation and also " the happiness factor " of the individual.

"Often the people who are attracted to the arts are highly educated and mobile. They will increase consumption. They will increase the local tax base and bring employers to the area.(Jane O Brian.BBC News)  

It makes sense that the arts alone cannot pull up an impoverished society but  there is research being made to prove that enjoying art can boost the economy. It can also stimulate the environment and attract people to want to live in those communities. Again research shows that people are smarter at work because they’re in a more creative , vibrant cultural scene.(Impressa Economics. President Joe Cortright)

Mona Brookes, art educator and psychologist, has had incredible results by bringing art into the work place, bringing the arts into the corporate world. She has impacted many fields including business men in the States seeking innovative ways of thinking. Mona has worked out the link between art and lateral thinking and creative businessmen/women. 

Without art life would be dull. Buildings would be concrete and walls bare and expressionless. 
There is something beautiful about being able to create and being able to receive a created item.
Perhaps Art is the fragrance around us to lift us up and remind us that there is hope, we all have voices and everyONEcounts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I was recently asked to open the new venture of Culture@Kearsney College. In essence this means that Kearsney would like to showcase the talents of all high school children. They are wanting to provide schools a platform to allow children the opportunity to benchmark themselves against others. The focus would be on participation rather than competition. There would be no losers nor winners. A different and very much needed new outlook indeed.

The evening began with subtle musical tunes being played whilst folk viewed the art from various High Schools in and around Durban. Some really good pieces! The Choir got me going with a dance in my step whilst the beat of the drum reverberated into my core. I was reminded of the pull that art has for me. The goosebumps felt when I stand before my canvas as a conductor does before the Orchestra, conducting the many instruments of possibilities.

HURRY! If you are in the area, you can still see the Art Exhibition inside the Greyhound Pavilion until 15 March.

On week days it will be open from 09:00 to 16:00.

The Art Exhibition will be followed by photography under the support of the Mathew Willman Visual Arts foundation before going into the dramatic nuances of the Performing Arts. Singing and Dance will tantalise and inspire many I am sure. The successful Battle of the Bands will take place under this culture@Kearsney and finally the Arts and English language curriculum will overlap in the slam poetry events.

Well done to the initiators of this project. The Arts and Culture team headed by Andrea Fripp with Jolene Ostendorf, Kearsney Clubs and Culture, Senior and Junior Art teacher  Glenda Pitcher and Tracy van den Aardweg and principal Mr van den Aardweg. What incredibly passionate people. Insightful and determined to bring about a balanced generation of young people.

 I'll be blogging more about the impact that Art has on society, on it's economic climate, on it's therapeutic benefits and it's ability to bring about social awareness and change... but for now the applause goes to this valuable venture...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The new "Barefoot Lounge" in Bilene
Well into February/March I recall a small part of my holiday in Mocambique. Bilene is the magnet that continues to draw our family to it's gentle shores. The lagoon is vast and spreads over seventeen kilometres. Cassuarina trees whisper new ideas whilst old fishing boats fall apart and get gracefully rebuilt in my sketches and paintings. The New Year of 2012/2013 was no different except for the addition of a magnificent new lounge to our friends home.

The lounge holds many of my works both old and new. This holiday I enjoyed a rendezvous with the boats . As you will see the colours and textures found from redundant boats on the beach has influenced me greatly. We added some of these finds under the set of 9 paintings done over a period of 10 days.

Sunlight splays through exotic doors

The Reading room

Textures and Teased surfaces

The colour palette I used in painting the boat series.

The last little painting"Open Oars".

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Painting by Lara Mellon in Bilene, Mocambique

Painting by Lara Mellon

An artist paints from heart and soul. At least my friend Lara does. The beauty lies in the merging of one's own reality with that of another person. In purchasing artwork one of the criteria is that of identification. A classic example of this is seen when the authors of this Bilene Home in Mozambique purchased a Lara Mellon painting from Fat Tuesday Gallery in Kloof last year. It captured the essence of this part of the world, even capturing the little Jack Russell belonging to them.

Colours and textures marry and I delightfully share this artist's painting with you as I see it in the new lounge of Bilene, Mocambique.

Kormarants and Sea gulls gather together
Mellon is the founder of everyONEcounts campaign, soliciting artworks from artists to raise funds. Her first auction raised R300 000 for a home for abandoned babies. This years campaign is around the issue of human trafficking. Join us in the plight. Most Recently Lara Mellon was nominated as a possible candidate for a LeadSA hero -" a person using his or her resources, energy and time to give back to the community to help solve the many problems that face our society." (Sunday Tribune Feb 3 2013)

Fishing boat in the reeds

My favourite view where river meets lagoon

Soft fabrics

Broken boats

The Bilene Lagoon