Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tree of Life by Henk Vos

The Branch Man cast in bronze by Henk Vos .

The Tree of Life is a recognized symbol in most cultures and I love to see all the different interpretations.

Embroidered Tree of Life, North India

Tribal Dhokra Statue, India

The Soteno Trees of Life, Mexico.

Artists have been using the symbol for centuries and what really fascinates me is the fact that you can even see it in ancient petroglyphs and rock paintings. I'm drawn to art featuring the Tree of Life and have used it myself in many of my carvings.

Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

As usual I've tried to choose my favourites out of hundreds of images.

Photograph by David Rose.

A group of Mozambican artists created this Tree of Life sculpture out of decommissioned weapons. Mozambicans are encouraged to find hidden weapons used in the civil war of 1976-1992. These weapons can be exchanged for items like sewing machines, ploughs and bicycles. One village found enough weapons to exchange for a tractor.

Photograph by David Rose. Tree Sculpture made entirely from machine guns, grenade launchers and pistols.

On the lighter side, here is Keith Harings version of The Tree of Life.
Kako Ueda creates the most intricate paper cuts. This is her Tree of Life below. To see more of her work go here.

Last of all ...... photos of one of my carvings.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I spent the morning carving a small nature box to hold some of my found objects and found great comfort in doing something so simple. For the first time in weeks I could actually feel the tension seep away as I relaxed into my work. Creating in solitude works every time. It's not that I'm antisocial but I feel so much better in my self if I can maintain a balance between my social and my solitary pursuits.

The christmas beetles have arrived in full force and they sing heartily from the forests. These cicadas usually come with the heat of summer, reminding me of my childhood. The first cicada song always sent me into a wild spin because it meant christmas was just around the corner.

I've been doing a lot of reading over the past few the small pockets of free time, between visitors and visiting. Dipping into old favourites rather than reading something new from beginning to end.

Susan Woolridge offers many nuggets of wisdom in her book Foolsgold.

"Maybe some of us need to dive into the depths of self, no matter how dangerous it seems, to uncover more meaning, passion, expression of soul, and, indeed, more light. We might feel most alive in the presence of what seems most dark within us. There are many ways for us to begin to plumb our unknown depths and free creativity without going crazy. To honor our boundless nature, it helps to shift perspectives and turn ourselves inside out and upside down."

"Go to wild places and invite the unexpected. Gather what you want onto a page or into a small box and allow yourself to sense the mystery in whatever is around you. Travel as much as you can, even within your own yard or town. Spend time contemplating water. There are many activities that can jog our brains and hearts and help us tap hidden tunnels leading to bottomlessness. Inviting playfully expansive "craziness" as well as regular depth soundings in our lives might help us stay more deeply sane, in touch with the ongoing present moment and with our true boundless and timeless natures, where the depth we seek is simply waiting to be perceived. "

Friday, November 14, 2008


Driving back from Durban.

We drove to Durban today to deliver a few totems to the gallery. My lucky streak continues with another 4 carvings sold this week. I also wanted to collect some embroidered patches which a young Zimbabwean man brings into South Africa twice a year. He collects these from rural women who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. The NSA Gallery buys whatever he brings and I have been waiting for months for them to arrive.

This brings me to ... (drum roll)........A small GIVEAWAY!

Way back in July, Theresa Martin hosted a blog giveaway and I was the lucky winner of a beautiful brooch she made from a tintype, beads and a piece of hand rusted brass. Now I am passing on the chance to win something on my blog.

Anyone who leaves a comment on this post during the next week will have a chance to win an embroidered patch or two from Zimbabwe and a beaded christmas star made in South Africa. Mention the patch and star you like in your comment.

A few photos taken today.....

The Auction Mart at a small shopping centre just outside of town.

Grinding stones at the auction mart. Hubby might be bidding for one or two to put in my xmas stocking :-)

I couldn't resist snapping the blackboard advertising Sunday Lunch. The Black Collared Barbet is our lucky bird. See here .

Frogs and a Bloukop made out of old oil tins. The artist has switched colours though and given him a red head and blue body.

My neck of the woods! The road where I live.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


"Hands Like Wings" fibre art by Renie Beskin Adams.

A flock of birds before my eyes when will be my next surprise. I can remember as a child when we all clambered into the car for a long drive to the beach for the day. Great Excitement! We would play "I spy with my little eye" to pass the time. When that became tiresome we searched the sky for birds. We probably drove my parents scatty with our piping voices "A flock of birds before my eyes, when will be my next surprise?" My stepdad would always say "Christmas" which prompted many howls of "Nooooo, that's too long to wait". We were only satisfied when he said something like "today at half past twelve."
Escher's birds/fishes have always fascinated me.

Year 2: Still Counting, by Don Wesley

Don Wesley pays tribute to the US soldiers killed in Iraq. "For every soldier that has perished in the conflict, Wesley paints a bird on a six foot wide painting that represents the total lives lost for that year. Each anniversary of the conflict marks the end of that year's painting. Then, Wesley begins another painting. There are now 6 of these large canvases with the sixth year now in progress."

"The Bird Tomb" of Neferherenptah at Saqqara.

Steampunk birds by Jim Mullan.

Illustration by Ken Orvidas.

"Wheatfield with Crows" by Vincent van Gogh. (the last painting Van Gogh painted)

My favourite piece is the perfect flock of wooden birds carved by South African artist, Daan Samuels. This sculpture was voted the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at the Design Indaba Expo held in February.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

MAKING THE BEST OF IT....during daylight anyway

"Everything has a value, provided it appears at the right place at the right time. It's a matter of recognizing that value, that quality, and then transform it into something that can be used. If you come across something valuable and tuck it away in your metaphysical suitcase there's sure to come a moment when you can make use of it." - Jurgen Bey.

We had two days of power outages during which three of my kitchen applainces blew. At 9.00 a.m. on the first day we heard we would be without electricity for about 12 hours. Okay! I could either seethe about it or make the best of it. Since I had managed to make a cup of coffee just in the nick of time (which goes a long way to soothe frazzled nerves) I decided to be grown up about it and take advantage of being without appliances. No vacuuming or clothes washing and ironing! What more could a girl ask for?

The weather was perfect for outdoor carving so most of my day was taken care of, whittling, hammering, attaching, contemplating and generally being gratefull that I could get on with my work. Added to that I had a chunk of free time to collage my next assignment for the Shelley Klammer Course I'm doing.

All in all it was a good day though I don't profess to being happy without my computer all evening. The air was a little blue for a while !

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Self portrait with monkeys by Frida Kahlo.

Aah monkeys, monkeys, monkeys!
I say it with a mixture of frustration and admiration if that's at all possible.

The Great Monkey Project installation by James Grashow.

There is a war going on in our neighbourhood against these animals because they cause havoc if they get into the house. I admit they can be a nuisance but I also can't help feeling priveleged that I get to see them at such close proximity.

The problem I do have with them is that our bird population has decreased in this area because of the monkeys, but for the first time in the 6 years we have been here two Robins built a nest in our garden and managed to rear two babies before the monkeys discovered the nest. They found it in the fir tree a few days ago and threw it onto the lawn. Fortunately the babies had already left the nest. We've been watching the parents feed them outside our bedroom window every morning for the past week.

Oragami monkey by Nicholas Terry.

The monkey art I've discovered on the internet is almost as entertaining as the real thing.

My favourite piece is the gorilla made from wire coathangers by Scottish sculptor David Mach.

A quilt by Chris Roberts, "If I had a monkey" is rather hilarious...but I'm glad my monkeys are not my responsibility.

Last but not least are the Nek Chand sculptures. Nek Chand developed a sculpture garden illegally but by the time authorities discovered it they decided rather than demolish it they would pay him a salary to continue. They arranged for 50 labourers to help him and now there are 25 acres of fascinating sculptures. I have added The Nek Chand Sculpture Gardens to my bucket list. Maybe one day I will get to see them.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


With all this talk of bone collecting I decided to feature the work of one of our local but internationally acclaimed sculptors, Carl Roberts.

His work is brilliant and though he carves in wood a lot of the time he also carves wonderfully whimsical pieces from found bones such as the scapula of an elephant or buffalo, the pelvis or humerus of a giraffe, the mandible of a hippo or the vertebra of a whale.

The shape dictates what he will carve. A scapula, for example, lends itself to carving trees with lattice type branches, sometimes housing baboons, leopards, owls or .....a man.

"Like the Rorschach (ink blot) test, the material often suggests images and sometimes presents them in an unusual way. " says Roberts.

"I work like the automatic artists of the Surrealist movement in that I trust my subconscious to generate ideas."

"The image made depends ultimately upon what lies in the subconscious, elements of chance and the spirit of the times." - Carl Roberts
The Stormbringer by Carl Roberts. All photos from the Carl Roberts website.
P.S. Somehow I managed to delete my whole link list! It's taken hours to redo it and I'm sure I've left someone out. If so it's not because you're bannished so please let me know so that I can get you back on the list again :-)