Thursday, February 26, 2009


A street artist who goes by the name of Asbestos has painted an awesome series focused on the hands of fellow street artists. He prefers to paint on discarded surfaces such as the weathered wood and tin that he finds on the streets. These hands are so expressive. They touch my heart.

"The hands have been a revelation to paint. They're the tools that seperate us from the animals. They can create and they can destroy and that's why they're so fascinating to paint. Each pair has it's own grain that highlights the personality of the owner." - Asbestos

See the rest of the series here.

After discovering the art of Asbestos at Wooster Collective, beautiful hands seemed to pop up everywhere.

Nickie Owens has painted a hand series which you can see here.

"As a budding artist I was told by my Mum that one of the great painters (I can’t remember who) always struggled with hands and would have an understudy finish his work.
So began my obsession. I thought if I could draw / paint hands I would be great... I just became great at hands!"

The beautifully stitched and collaged hands of Karin Bartimole. You need to visit her blog, Beyond Words, and enlarge her amazing journal pages to see all the details.

SantaCruz-CuevaManos, Argentina. Photo from Wikipedia

Photographs of hands in cave paintings have fascinated me since I was a little girl. They were painted 9,300 to 13,000 years ago. The hand was held against the cave wall and paint was sprayed through a hollow bone pipe to colour the area around the hand.

This photograph was taken by Pim at the Wat Rong Khun temple in Thailand. Donations are thrown into the pot surrounded by grasping hands. You can see Pim's photostream at Flickr.

Etching by Vladimir Gazovic

Drawing Hands by M C Escher

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Cherry Leaf Circle

Today I dicovered the work of Richard Shilling, a self taught land artist and sculptor living and working in Lancaster in the North West of England.

Cliff Pebble Stack

"My work usually consists of ephemeral sculptures made from natural materials found round and about where the sculpture is made. What comes from nature soon returns to it be it in a few short minutes, hours or days: everything is reclaimed by the sun, tide or wind. My work focuses on the structures, processes and forms of nature and the sculptures attempt to reveal a fresh perspective on what we know about the materials and processes inherent in nature. A particular tree during a particular autumn flush of colour may afford the land artist the opportunity to reveal all the colours of autumn. This chance may come only for a few days and during a particularly good season. Such is the work of the land artist – to attempt to reveal elements of nature at first unseen both to themselves and to anyone viewing their work."

Pebble Colour Bars

I've spent several hours browsing through Richard's work on his blog here and his flickr site here. There are a lot more amazing images where these came from.

Dam and Square

Vertical Stack

Frost Sun

Leaf Curtain

The most intriguing part of these leaf sculptures is that they are held together with thorns.

Autumn Fade

The leaves used in Autumn Fade are all natural colours. I had to look twice, wondering if some of them had been stained. After a wet summer the leaves are more vibrant than usual because of the extra sugars present. Read more about this piece here.

Leaf Spiral. Chestnut Tree leaves and thorns

Richard mentions that he copied Goldsworthy's leaf spiral in order to study the way that it is made. Read the blog post about it here. I think it is as complicated as it looks!

If you've enjoyed looking at Richard Shilling's work you might also enjoy the work of South African Land Artist, Strijdom van der Merwe, here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Erosion Teak Wall Art

My favourite home store Weylandts, has a website that will have you jumping up and down......well it got me doing the jig anyway. My daughter and I pour over their brochures and can recognize their products a mile off . We are avid decor magazine browsers and the interiors that catch our attention are usually Weylandts interiors.

Teak Sphere, Indonesia

Chris Weylandt, founder of Weylandts, practices a philosophy of respect. Respect for ourselves, for others and the environment. He concentrates on good design and simplicity. Products that are handmade and unique.

"We only stock items we have hand-picked, collected or designed...but ultimately, we don't sell exclusive furniture and homeware --we sell a reflection of how we ourselves live, our travels, our taste, our appreciation for quality, spaces..."
Cowrie Neck Chain

Framed Ethiopian Wedding Veil
Framed Ethiopian Basket

Old Lesung Rice Mortar from Indonesia. Used to grind rice and peel off the rice skin as well as occasionally to grind coffee.

Vintage London Trunk

Anemone Lamp (Philippines), made from coco sticks, which are carved from coconuts

Ashanti Stool


Friday, February 13, 2009


Julia Cameron prescribes "artist dates" as one of the tools for creative healing.
"Ideally, an Artist Date is a time for receiving inflow --new images from some festive activity; new perspectives from the time alone, free from the input of familar sources; new currents of thought and activity triggered through the operation of synchronicity".
We havn't been to the museum since the installation of the Hall of Cultures so I decided it would be an ideal artist date.....though I cheated (just a little) by taking hubby along. It wouldn't have been fun without him and we've been talking about seeing the new Hall for months.
The last wild elephant in Kwazulu Natal.
The animal display recesses always enthralled me as a kid because it felt as if I was discovering new worlds filled with "real" animals that called and twittered, unperturbed by my tapping on the glass. The background painting above is one of my favourites because it is an area I know so well. In South Africa there are two Table Mountains. The famous mountain in Cape Town and the not so famous one in Kwazulu Natal.
We finally reached the Hall of Cutures after revisiting the old familiar halls that seem to be the same as they were on that very first wide eyed excursion with mom and dad. There is more emphasis on education nowdays with new lecture theatres and interactive, hands on school tours.
Traditional clay pots...
Meat platters...
Sweat scrapers? Why on earth??
Knobkerries (traditional weapons). Being hit over the head with a knobkerrie is....shall we say..a head splitting experience.
Traditional healing has now been integrated into the South African Health Care System. Sangomas are skilled diviners and healers within the Zulu and Indebele tribes. Though sangomas are a common site in the streets I am always intrigued by their appearance, in traditional colours of red and white, animal skins and wreaths of beads jangling as they walk. Hair is beaded and threaded with goat bladders (as you can see in the painting above). A wonderful image to stock my imagination.
"Remember that art is an image-using system and that you are to use this time to consciously stock your imagination. Think of it like a pond, filled with deep and swirling images. You want to keep it stocked so that when you go to draw upon it it will not be overfished." - Julia Cameron, Vein of Gold.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The sound of a river sighing as it rushes by is good for the soul. Sweltering days followed by long stretches of rain have made it well nigh impossible to get any work done outside, but today as the sun slid behind a thick bank of cloud I bolted out to get some carving done. The river is quite full now which makes it louder than usual. As I relaxed into the rythm of carving the water sounds lulled me into a wonderful sense of calm. Work that made me grumpy last week because of the hard knotty wood I'm using, suddenly seems to flow without a hitch. It's as if a log jam has unwedged itself. Running water has a calming effect on me. Apparently it has something to do with the negative ions in the water.

"Being near water, especially moving water, gets ideas to flow." Dr Henriette Klauser proclaims,
"Studies show that people can react with headaches and fatigue when the air is charged with too many positive ions, due to such things as modern air-conditioning, television transmitters, and seasonal winds. To counteract this, so-called "negative air ionizers" generate an abundance of electrons in the air, making people more energetic and creative".
One can feel the benefits of negative ions in the air when walking in the woods, on a beach or near a river, breathing fresh air after rain or even taking a shower. They are more concentrated in the areas where there is moisture in the air caused by the breaking of the surface tension of water.
At the Health Benefit of Water site I found more information.
Natural negative ions can have have many benefits, like:
~enhance the immune system
~increase alertness
~increase work productivity and concentration
~reduce susceptibility to colds and flu
~relief from sinus, migraine headaches, allergies and hay fever
~reduce the severity of asthma attacks
~increase lung capacity
~stabilize alpha rhythms
Negative ions can also treat depression.
There's quite a lot of information about negative ions on google. Very interesting reading. It certainly explains why we feel so good near the ocean or after a shower.

Monday, February 9, 2009


The Giraffe Manor hotel is a typical British manor house in Nairobi with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the south and the Ngong Hills to the west. When Jock and Betty Melville bought the manor in 1974 they moved 2 endangered Rothschild giraffe onto the estate.

The giraffe thrived and today visitors can see a few more of these magnificent creatures loping about the hotel grounds.

There is a circular platform 9 feet above the ground where one can tempt them with oats...

......or one can simply invite a lanky friend to share one's own breakfast in the dining room.

Beware the 18 inch tongue that might slurp the food right off your plate.

Where's everyone?

Hey, time to come down for breakfast.

All photographs from The Giraffe Manor site. See more here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Taschen has brought out yet another fabulous decor book. I was lucky enough to receive African Interiors by Deidi Von Schaewen for Christmas and have been reading it at every opportunity. Almost every page is radiant with colour and pattern. Deidi spent 4 years travelling across Africa taking these magnificent photographs for the book. Ohhhhh wouldn't you love to do that? Granted Africa is hot and there are many areas where water is as scarce as the amenities but what an amazing adventure!
The cover of the book features the brightly patterned walls inside a house in Selibadi. Just one room in each house is painted this way and this is usually the woman's domain where the focus is on daily life, cooking and daily tasks. (See the photograph at the top of the post as well).
This photograph was taken in the Bamako studio of photographer Malick Sidibe. He records the affluent side of life in Mali as well as the ritual ceremonies of hunters in the bush. His studio is filled with photographic paraphernalia, much of which is very old.

Next we have a peek into the home of Alan Donovan, an exporter of African craftwork who is stationed in Nairobi. There were many photos I wanted to show from this house because each room is filled with the most wonderful artefacts.

The African textiles decorating the house are stunning! I can see Kuba cloth, Bark cloth, Mud cloth and many textiles I don't recognize at all. Just look at the appliqued cloths in the bedroom above. The Kuba cloths originated when holes in the fabric were repaired. Patches were sewn over the holes and these developed into the traditional design motifs that are so typical of these cloths.

The image above shows a wall in the bedroom of Not Vital a Swiss sculptor who has built himself a house in Agadez. The camels, which are Vitals own handywork, fit very well with the Berber look of the house. I love this image and keep returning to it.

Susanne Wenger is an Austrian artist who has lived in Oshogbo for the last 50 years. She founded a creative school called the Mbari Mbayo Club which means "when we see it, we're happy". Her artwork whether it is carved wood or cement sculptures, batiks or paintings seem to grow like "rampant plants". She keeps on extending and enveloping her surroundings with these mythical artworks.

This image was taken in the house of Murad Grace, on the edge of Cairo. He and his wife have decorated their home with ancestral objects such as the pieces of Nile pottery you see above.

I have a penchant for weathered wooden doors like this one in a Berber house in Matmata. There is very little furniture in these homes and I must say I'm leaning toward this way of life. We just seem to have far too much "stuff". Think of how we could cut down on housework if we got rid of even half our possessions.

Last but not least this gorgeous giraffe at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. They peer in through windows and doors at the hotel guests.
"I'm sure there's someone at the window George."
"Don't worry dear, it's just a giraffe".