Wednesday 16 June 2010

Rippling outward still further


The momentum is growing.  Kelly of Ripple is doing the most incredible work in her bid to help the mammals and sea creatures who are victims of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.  Artists from all over the world are contributing original works to raise funds to benefit charities working hard to alleviate the suffering caused by this horrendous disaster.  Please visit her blog to see for yourselves.  It's a true affirmation of what we are able to do by reaching out around the globe.


lightblue fish pngBlue Trio ~ Lino Cut (1 of 6 available) on 350 gsm cotton rag


Who hath desired the Sea? -- the sight of salt wind-hounded --
The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber win hounded?
The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing --
Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed hurricane blowing --
His Sea in no showing the same his Sea and the same 'neath each showing:
His Sea as she slackens or thrills?

Who hath desired the Sea? -- the immense and contemptuous surges?
The shudder, the stumble, the swerve, as the star-stabbing bow-sprit emerges?
The orderly clouds of the Trades, the ridged, roaring sapphire there under --
Unheralded cliff-haunting flaws and the headsail's low-volleying thunder --
His Sea in no wonder the same his Sea and the same through each wonder:
His Sea as she rages or stills?

Who hath desired the Sea? Her menaces swift as her mercies?
The in-rolling walls of the fog and the silver-winged breeze that disperses?
The unstable mined berg going South and the calvings and groans that de clare it --
White water half-guessed overside and the moon breaking timely to bare it --
His Sea as his fathers have dared -- his Sea as his children shall dare it:
His Sea as she serves him or kills?

Rudyard Kipling



Monday 14 June 2010

The Ripple Effect - Haematopus ostraleguis






Who could not love a bird called a Haematopus Ostraleguis?  According to my very well handled and battered bird book, Oystercatchers are found on coasts worldwide - apart from the polar regions and some tropical regions of Africa and South East Asia. My rather naive representation of this black and white species of Oystercatcher is found all along British coastlines and waterways. Bold in voice and body, this handome bird is often seen probing the shores with its stout red bill for earthworms, cockles and mussels, but rarely has it ever been seen to actually polish off an oyster.  Well, certainly not by me - but that could be because I manage to get to those tasty molluscs first if I can!  In the early evenings their enormous, tight flocks create an incredibly loud en masse chorus of 'kleep-a -kleep' piping trills which inevitably has everyone teetering over backwards as they gaze skyward in thrall.  During courtship, this fellow can be seen tearing along the sand like a madman behind or beside his intended mate in the hope of winning her affection and deterring his rivals.  I often wonder if, by the time he has managed to woe her, he is not too exhausted to perform the required act of procreation!

On a more serious note, here is a message from Kathy Light on why the prompt for this particular Illustration Friday topic is so important:

"It's hard to make ripples in oil soaked water. But throw enough stones and you will!

It's not about the politics or the corporation. It's about the animals. It's about not feeling helpless in the face of an overwhelming disaster. We're illustrators. We don't lose touch with that kid inside who marvels at the creatures who swim below and fly above the sea. We draw them. We are inspired by them. We need to help them.

The Ripple blog was started on the 45th day of the Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe. The oil spill in the Gulf is now over 50 days old with no sign of stopping. We may be too small as individuals to do some grand gesture- but together our small gestures can be grand.

This week's Illustration Friday topic is "Ripple"  and I ask you to consider creating your work this week as a small 2.5"  x  3.5" sketchcard. The subject should pertain somehow to the Gulf - the oil spill - the oceans and the creatures that live in it and around it. The cards can be submitted to  as a jpeg along with your links and a few sentences about you (ie: where you live, etc).

These will be made available for a small donation of $10.00 to either  The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies ( or The International Bird Rescue Research Center (  I have no affiliation with them. Every penny will go. When the cards sell, We ask for a donation confirmation and you will be asked to sign the back with a thank you. Then mail them to the address you are sent. If we all do small acts together- we can cause a ripple- and it can grow. We can DO SOMETHING.  Thank you, thank you for checking this out and thinking about it." ~ Kelly Light

You can see some wonderful contributions by other artists by clicking on this link

Thursday 10 June 2010

The Fairest Cape


“Perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores.”  ~ Nelson Mandela, Inauguration Speech, May 9 1994

blog.pix 001Hemel-en-Aarde Valley 

At the very tip of Africa the Western Cape lies bordered by two oceans - the warm, balmy Indian Ocean to the east and the ferocious and frigid Atlantic to the west. The constant reassuring presence of the immense peaks which form the backdrop to a land so lovely that the emerald lakes and indigenous forests of the Wilderness area, the sun-drenched vineyards of the Cape Winelands, the magnificent passes to reach the interior and the sweeping, golden acres of the Boland, seem part of fantasy landscape that often defies description.

So rather than rhapsodise further, I shall let some of the photographs from my recent journey home do the talking....


cape collage.2010

Tuesday 8 June 2010

A light touch


holkham.pondJune6.10 Norfolk Zen ~ Holkham, June 7


My favourite time of day is just as the sun gently touches the horizon when all thoughts of what must be done stop and small pools of light come alive.


marshpond.6 JuneHome to roost ~ Holkham June 7

Sunday 6 June 2010

A Cultural Potpourri


Some of you know me as that chronically homesick African who was whisked away from her beloved land quite recently by an Englishman to live for a while in his country.  What can a girl do but pack and follow?  Especially since the Englishman in question in my husband of 30 something years and he feels – probably quite justifiably – that it’s his turn to spend time in the country of his birth after having lived most of his adult life in mine.

Problem is that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t rid myself of that little niggling ache for home.  So rather than sit and mope, I endeavour to transport Africa to England as often as I possibly can by bringing the people and places I love so much to life on canvas. With broad strokes of brush and pots of vivid colour, I attempt to recreate moments of a life filled with laughter, love and adventure.

Our current home – now in North Norfolk - as well as being filled almost to ceiling height with a multitude of paintings by artists infinitely more talented than I, is also littered with smile inducing memories of that complex, beautiful and tumultuous continent. There are colourful carved birds perched on table tops, vibrantly painted tin geckoes climb the walls, a wonky wooden zebra teeters on a windowsill beside a chameleon and two outrageously daubed giraffe. There are bowls and sculptures, beads and baubles in abundance. Oh, and books. Books by Andre Brink, Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Justin Cartwright, Ben Okri, Breyten Breytenbach, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Alexandra Fuller, Rian Malan and other afrocentric literary luminaries line the shelves.

So you see - it all works perfectly. He lives in his country and we still share mine.

Although I’ve lived in many parts of Africa, Cape Town is where I was born and raised so it seems appropriate that I should take you there first.  Please, come with me to that beautiful city nestled in the curve of its famous mountain and allow me to introduce you to the colourful Bo-Kaap area of the city and to the Cape Malay people who live there. And since food is always an important evocation of people and places, perhaps you’d like to share a meal as well?


The Cape Malay Quarter, or 'Bo-Kaap' as it is known locally, sprawls along the slopes of Signal Hill and presents a scenario of enduring historic and cultural significance. With their soft, caramel skins and wide smiles, the Cape Malay people are a beautiful and important part of the fascinating cultural potpourri which makes South Africa unique as a rainbow nation. It is also their food, which introduces exciting mixtures of pungent spices, that has had a heady influence on traditional South African cuisine. Indeed, the Malay-Portuguese words such as bobotie (a curried ground beef and egg custard dish), sosatie (kebabs marinated in a curry mixture) and bredie (slowly cooked stews rich in meat, tomatoes and spices) are integral in our cookery vocabulary.

The Malay influence comes through in the curries, chillies and extensive use of spices such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. More Malay magic comes through the use of fruit cooked with meat, marrying sweet and savoury flavours, with hints of spice, curry and other seasonings. The food has a nuance of seductive spiciness, true testament to the culinary capabilities of Malay women world wide. I cannot think of a dried apricot without the image of our cook Lizzie, smiling her heart-warming smile, a wooden spoon in her hand, gently stirring a pot of simmering curry and fruit.

Lizzie’s bobotie is legendary and I still have her recipe in my book of kitchen treasures. Bobotie (pronounced ba-boor-tea) is a curried ground beef dish, baked in a rich egg custard. Some recipes call for you to combine the curry powder with the ground beef, whilst others advise you to fry the curry powder with the onions. The method is really unimportant. Once the custard covering the beef begins to bake, it keeps the meat moist and absorbs the fragrance of the curry and spices. What makes bobotie such a popular traditional South African dish is that it is exceptional served hot with geelrys (yellow rice), but just as good served cold with a peppery green salad with a tart vinaigrette dressing.  Oh, and don't forget the blatjang! Wonderful book with great South African recipes - click for link.

Saturday 5 June 2010





Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?  ~Paracelsus

Yes, Paracelsus, I couldn't agree more.  How serendipitous, then, than the NaBloPoMo theme for June 2010 is NOW.  Time is running out and I'm trying like a crazy person to keep up with it.  You know the kind of thing - too many pots on the boil and you can't see through the steam?

Although I'm reading, painting and photographing like fury, I haven't been writing. Nothing, nada, zilch.  My blog has taken a back seat as well - and I miss that wonderful bloggy camaraderie very much indeed.  Those connections and exchanges are  precious grist for the writing mill.  Yeah, I have tip-toed very quietly into all the blogs I love whenever I can, but I seldom leave a comment nowadays. I think that's because I've felt absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer quality of  what is written, painted, photographed out there in the blogsphere and that any remark I make while in the grip of this weird brain fug would would be superfluous and trite.  So I just chickened out.   It is time now to change all that.  June 2010 will become my 'writing month' in every possible way.  Blogging, works-in-progress, exchanges with friends, poetry maybe....

It's a bit like getting back onto a surfboard again - so for the moment brevity is key until I get my balance right.   I will attempt to excite your judgement briefly rather than to inform it tediously.  (Thanks, Francis Bacon...I think.)

Needless to say I'm already 5 days late with this task but it's an auspicious day to begin again.  Happy Birthday, Guy.  We've come a long way, baby!

booch.watamu Watamu, Kenya

I met Guy under a Land Rover. It was his big hiking boots I saw first and when the rest of him emerged, I was struck by how brown and untamed he looked. I liked the red spotted bandana he wore round his neck and the sinewy muscle of his chest and arms. I liked his black unruly hair and those green eyes that looked so directly into mine. When he spoke, I laughed because he sounded so English and that wasn’t what I expected at all.

First grandson First grandson