Saturday, March 28, 2009


Ashes by Jennifer Khoshbin who is a carver of books. (see more of Khoshbin's prints here)

Spirals have been used in art since primitive times. Most, if not all, cultures have used the spiral as a positive symbol. It has been associated with the cycles of life. Cycles of birth, death and rebirth. Cycles of time and growth, nature and her seasons.

Spirals found at Newgrange, Ireland. It has been suggested that they relate to the solar cycle. Read more here. Intriguing!

Container with spiral decoration, Bronze and Iron Age, Late period, 300B.C. - 200 A.D. Thailand. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Spiral Meditation by Kalyna Pidwerbesky. Felt and fibre.

Spot of Spiral Tea by Christie Reynolds at New York Art Exchange.

Sweet grass basket sculpture by Debora Muhl.

Cell Division by Patrick Dougherty
"Dougherty's works allude to nests, cocoons, hives, and their lairs built by animals, as well as the manmade forms of huts, haystacks, and baskets, created by interweaving branches and twigs together. Many of his works look 'found' rather than made, as if they were created by the natural force of a tornado sweeping across the landscape. He intentionally tries for this effortless effect, as if his creations just fell or grew up naturally in their settings." - Linda Johnson

Brick Things by Bennett Blackburn

Land Art by Jim Denevan

"Jim Denevan makes freehand drawings in sand. At low tide on wide beaches Jim searches the shore for a wave tossed stick. After finding a good stick and composing himself in the near and far environment Jim draws-- laboring up to 7 hours and walking as many as 30 miles. The resulting sand drawing is made entirely freehand with no measuring aids whatsoever. From the ground, these drawn environments are experienced as places. Places to explore and be, and to see relation and distance. For a time these tangible specific places exist in the indeterminate environment of ocean shore. From high above the marks are seen as isolated phenomena, much like clouds, rivers or buildings. Soon after Jim's motions and marks are completed water moves over and through, leaving nothing."

Hundertwasser regarded the spiral as a symbol of life and death.

"Our earth describes a spiral course. We move in circles, but we never come back to the same point. The circle is not closed. We only pass the same neighbourhood many times. It is characteristic of a spiral that it seems to be a circle but is not closed."

"The spiral shows life and death in both directions. Starting from the center, the infinite small the spiral means birth and growth, but by getting bigger and bigger the spiral dilutes into the infinite space and dies off like waves who disappear in the calm waters.
On the contrary if the spiral condenses from outer space, life starts from the infinite big, the spiral becomes more and more powerful and concentrates into the infinitely small which cannot be measured by man because it is beyond our conception and we call it death." - Hundertwasser

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Even with urbanization the ancient tradition of Lobola is still very much alive in Africa. Lobola is a dowry paid by a prospective husband to the family of the bride. Though payment in cows is the old way, new traditions are creeping in and many families are requesting cash payments rather than cattle.

The idea for carving this door came from the story about a young woman my mum met at the Hair Salon. Thembi was a shampooist there and much to the delight of customers she would regail them with hilarious stories about the waitressing job she did in the evenings. Though she had been engaged to marry for well over a year the couple didn't seem any closer to setting a wedding date because it was taking so long to raise the money to buy the cows for her Lobola. Thembi was proud of the fact that she was worth 20 cows but she was also exhausted since she was having to waitress in addition to her day job at the salon so as to help her fiance raise the cash.

In modern society one would think that Lobola would be less serious then it used to be but apparently the families of both bride and groom would be mortified if this custom was not adhered to. It is quite a formal affair with the two families getting together to negotiate the bride price, often with tensions running high. A bottle of brandy is usually place in the middle of the table to relax the two parties. It seems to set the mood for calmer discussions whether the bottle is opened or not. Negotiations take one or two days though I've heard of a case where 6 months later the price had still not been decided upon.

Before ending off, a big thank you for the warm, supportive response to my interview on Artnlight. Comments here and at Artnlight as well as many emails have kept me smiling all day. Thank you!

P.S. See if you can find the cow with the crumpled horn.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


What a treat! Vineeta at Artnlight interviewed me and has posted a very generous article with photos galore, here. Pop on over and see what you think. If you aren't familiar with this gorgeous blog ( I know many of you are) be prepared for a long browse. Pour yourself a cuppa, put up your feet and enjoy!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Today I carved 6 cows. This is quite a feat considering the procrastinating I've been doing all week. Just one cow...I said to myself. Once I had my workbench and carving set up in the courtyard ready to begin I had this bright idea that I should first get all my phone calls out of the way. Then I noticed the courtyard was looking rather messy so perhaps I should get that cleaned up too. This has been happening day after day but today I caught myself in the act. I will nail your foot to the floor if I have to, but you will carve one cow! And I did. The next thing I knew, six carved cows were looking at me. I'm not usually a procrastinator when it comes to my work especially if I have an idea sketched out and ready to proceed but since Christmas I have allowed myself to be swept along in any direction except the most important one.

I now keep a notebook next to me while I work so that I can write down all the things "I must do right now", then I threaten myself with the nailed foot treatment and make sure I put in at least an hour's work before rushing off to do chores. Invariably I end up doing more than a few hours carving.

I've finally prepared my bundle for the Disintegration Project. It has been buried in a shallow grave under the Bottle Brush tree for 3 days now. I decided to bury mine after reading about artist Christina Oiticica ( who also happens to be Paul Coehlo's wife) who buries her art works for about a year and a part of the art process.

Kalahari deposited this bundle of joy on my doorstep today. I love book parcels on a Friday just in time for the weekend.

1. Natural Fashion by Hans Sylvester
2. Rivers and Tides (DVD) by Andy Goldsworthy
3. Tissue Salts for Healthy Living by Margaret Roberts
4. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This evening I was fortunate enough to have a long chat to Leslie who phoned from the States as part of the informal discussion she mentioned in this post.........What is it that I want from my creativity? And what does my creativity want from me? Leslie, a gentle, soft spoken angel disguised as a Life Coach, patiently discussed ways to overcome the frustrations that get in the way of creation. I was grinning inside by the time I put the phone down.

And as if that wasn't enough Priya's exquisite drawing made me sit with mouth agape.

What a great day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Look at these images! Aren't they stunning? The first time I saw these beautiful artpieces by Lissa Hunter my heart began to race because I knew I was looking at something extraodinary. Thanks so much Leslie for sending me the link.

Nancy's Choice

Lissa Hunter's trademark is the small hand coiled baskets mounted in wall boxes. The baskets are covered with paper and these become the "canvas" upon which she paints, draws and adorns.

The Gathering by Lissa Hunter

"Saying that Lissa Hunter makes baskets is a bit like saying that Picasso doodled. She does. He did. But in both cases the work transcends those simple categories.Hunter's baskets are about life, loss, love and death. " - Christine Temin, New England Home, May/June 2007

Fade to black

"First she's a basket maker. First and foremost, and still. First she makes coiled baskets, precise, neat, colorful. Then she covers the exteriors, skins them in paper, paint and texture.

And her point is that when you approach them, they are--what? Ceramic? You can't tell . Adorned with leather, leaves and beads. But when you look inside, there are fiber coils. Discovery, magic. To perform this magic you have to pick them up, handle them. That's what the paper and paint were there to protect and to allow in the first place.

Now the baskets are set in little niches, precisely their size, made for them. The niches are cut into slabs made for walls. To be seen. Hands off, the discovery inside no longer possible, no longer permitted.

So the secret of the baskets has been buried? Is this a cenotaph? Are these baskets votive offerings? Do they hold invisable remains? Are they empty?" -- John Edwards , from the catologue for Histories.

These are the same thoughts going through my mind whilst looking at them.

If the pieces appeal to you, you're in for a treat at Lissa's website here. There are stories behind some of the works which provide fascinating reading.

Late bloomer


More than you know


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Whilst paging through an old magazine I came across the photograph above.

Intrigued, I googled the name Demarkersvan and discovered a young design team based in Rotterdam who produce security fencing with a difference.

Joep Verhoeven, one of the young Demakersvan designers came up with this idea as part of his graduation project whilst still a student. He is utilizing traditional Dutch lace making techniques to change ordinary chain link security fencing into works of art.

Industrial fencing meets traditional lace.


Sunday, March 15, 2009


This beautiful old leather box belonged to a British officer during the Boer War era.

Since my last post I have been browsing through some of my own favourite boxes around the house. I now realize our hoarding problem is getting out of hand. There are so many boxes and containers of all shapes and sizes filled to overflowing with all manner of paraphernalia in every room of the house.

An old brass cosmetics box which was attached to a camel saddle during trips across the desert.....containing my vintage key collection.

I've been thinking seriously about simplifying my life, getting rid of all the "things" we've carted from house to house with every move. When my mom passed away and later my aunt I ended up with so many of their treasures. Both my husband and I are collectors and love to come home with books and vintage finds from flea markets or vintage stores, resulting in a house overflowing with "things".

Oak writing box which belonged to my husband's grandfather.

Flea market finds. I found the brass bell at my favourite of all flea markets..... the Rastro in Spain.

Scrapyard finds and the beginning of a new collection....old metal irons...which make great containers for found objects. These "boxes" live outside on my veranda.

A Mankala game box from the Ivory Coast

Vintage box of my favourite lemon grass soaps in the bathroom.

Found Object Stash to use in my carvings.

Somehow I don't think I'm going to be making much progress with clearing out the excess .... but I'll make a concerted effort not to add more to my hoards .....or at least to get rid of something before bringing anything else home. Hey, havn't I had this conversation before?

Deatail from one of my totems, Nature's Child

Friday, March 13, 2009


Open at risk by Marianne Lettieri

I don't know what it is about art that is boxed or contained but it definitely floats my boat. Whether it be an assemblage contained within a wooden box or sculpture confined within a clay framework, cast paper niches containing reliqueries or vintage boxes and cases housing collections of curiosities, I gravitate towards them and have to study them closely relishing every element within.
Ringer's Luck by Lynne Perrella

"I like to collect neglected easily-overlooked objects; dumpster finds and broken widgets. To me these objects have a quality of authenticity and workmanlike charm that is missing from priceless cargo. I've always felt that visits to museums are for observing the precious and rare - but my own artwork is for celebrating the humble and neglected. So I enjoy both." - Lynne Perrella

Soulitude by Barbara Scavotto-Earley

Dispositions by Barbara Scavotto-Earley

By Leah Hardy

Assemblage by Joseph Cornell

Shadow Box by Crystal Neubauer

Remnant Reliqueries by Kate Strickland

Royal Tide 1 by Louise Nevelson

Archive Box by Ron Pippin