PS: Due to a last minute cancellation, we have two spaces to fill on our Green Mountain Trail, checking in this Monday afternoon the 2nd of May. Would you like to join? Book here

PPS: Nine delightful Jozi and Durbs gals rolled in yesterday eve to walk the Green Mountain. Today they are hiking the Groenlandberg in lovely balmy weather.

Good Morning

Justice Edwin Cameron, retired Constitutional Court judge and Chancellor of Stellenbosch University shared gentle messages at a beautiful celebration of graduates two weeks back. Our second born Molly, graduating Honours in Geography and Environmental Studies, was one of the grads he spoke to about rejoicing at having completed their degrees in a torrid time, and the importance of the institutional centres of excellence in our beloved country. Alongside, Prof Anthony Leysens, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences added this thought, “We are what we are, through others”. We need to choose our others very carefully then.

Wilma Cruise is one of my chosen others. Her Recon(figure) show is at Is Art, Stellenbosch until the 31st of May. “The world has become a collapsing monument of humankind’s hubris and rapacious greed. The four horsemen of the apocalypse, War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, stride the Earth wreaking havoc. The rhetorical question implied by the title is, ‘How are we, animals and humans alike, going to manage our game at the end of the apocalyptic Anthropocene?”

Last Tuesday’s Monocle Minute’s ART/Close Encounters suggests that “Good art should transport you, drawing you out of yourself and introducing you to new ideas.”

In 2016 Francois Knoetze installed Bloed Trek alongside the Jakkals River which runs through the bottom of the gardens of Wildekrans Country House. Francois’ concept stated “My idea is to construct an abstract sculpture which references a Voortrekker ossewa. I would like to use invasive wood to form the armature, as well as black plastic. The structure may also include figures on the cart, as well as references to the cart being invaded by pests (rat/insect-like creatures).”

Francois’ friend Amy Louise Wilson joined him for a week of building here at Wildekrans Country House. Amy rehearsed for her role in Florian Zeller’s ‘The Father’ pacing the lawns down at the river. Bloed Trek was an adventurous work for us, we struggled with it. During construction I exclaimed at the horror of the pest creatures. In Amy Wilsons’ words “art is not always easy; it is not always pretty, and this is necessary because it draws from some of the difficult or unseen injustices that are going on”.

Dr Ashraf Jamal, author and art critic speaks of the work “An allusion to the Great Trek, the Dutch venture inland in search of a new world, the sculpture, however, also speaks to the bloody cost of such self-determination, baring testimony, for Knoetze, to ‘the brutal and often romanticised history of Dutch pastoral expansion’… Bloed Trek, …  performs the banality of horror, but also its monstrous yet quirky oddity, for on peering into the wagon we see cartoon-like white bodies neither dead nor alive but zomboid, plugged intravenously to an unending flow of black blood.”

Bloed Trek disintegrated over the years, as it was meant to. We will be resurrecting this piece through the photographs of David Ross.

Kristin Hjellegjerde’s upcoming London show is Celina Teague’s Nature Interrupted. Kristin writes ‘The work Still I Rise (pictured), was made when Teague was listening to reports of the conflict in Afghanistan and specifically in relation to the oppression of women. However, instead of choosing to focus on the bleakness of the situation, Teague’s perspective is one of hope, vitality and strength. In the painting, women dressed in blue burqas appear like flowers blooming at the end of tall lush vines, the winding, interconnected stems suggesting a sense of quiet solidarity.’

Molly drew my attention to the title’s namesake, Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise (full poem at end)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

With love,

PPPS: Living in these Kogelberg Biosphere mountains, I wake most mornings feeling like ‘I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room’.

PPPPS: Forty years ago, my Stellenbosch class graduated under BJ Vorster, wasn’t Molly the lucky one?

Maya Angelou – STILL I RISE

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.