Category: art

The beauty of objects

She stood there, immobile, unsure how or what to start packing. Years of paints, paintbrushes, paper, clay, sculptures, twine, beads, bits, feathers and things that have no value but have all the value in the world.

‘It’s just a paperclip,’ I said. ‘You do not need this.’

A tear rolled down her cheek.

‘I don’t,’ she said. ‘Or, maybe I do. That clip held together the first painting I exhibited. I do need to hold on to it. Or, if not me, somebody else might want to use it.’

‘It’s a fucking paper clip,’ I said. ‘It goes…’

I swept it into the bag for rubbish.

This was me, helping a dear friend pack up her life. She’s moving from South Africa to England.

They have paper clips in England.

But packing is hard. The blue dress, even though it hasn’t been worn for years, is gorgeous. The teacup that’s been in bubble wrap forever; it came from a great grandmother.

Objects of beauty. Of meaning. Of memory.

What stays and what goes? What gets thrown away and what gets given away?

We went through a bag of baby clothing. Our babies grew up together. I recognised the dinosaur hat. The sippy cup. The blankie.

‘God,’ I said, ‘I cannot believe you kept these. I gave all my baby stuff away years ago. Years ago.’

I held the blanket.

And then suddenly a tear rolled down my cheek too.

Of course she had to keep the dinosaur hat.

I had to keep my dinosaur hats too.

We hold on to things because they are a part of us. They are our memories, our emotions, our ties to things and people and times.  They are love.

How does one part with anything?

I dug the paper clip out the rubbish.

‘It stays,’ I said.

She breathed in, a sigh of relief.  We both wiped our tears.  And I blew my nose into a handkerchief.

It’s the handkerchief of an old lover.  We’re not in touch anymore.

But it smells of him. It is a part of him.

It is him.

Of course I’m not letting it go.


The guy who used to wear the yellow t-shirt

Remember the guy with the yellow t-shirt?

Well, I saw him over the weekend at a brunch. And out of the blue he gave me the shirt.

I was surprised and flattered and I giggled because it brought back all the stuff about how I met him.

And I love that we’ve become friends. That a chance meeting in a coffee shop turned into something lovely.

I learned quite a few things from that yellow t-shirt bumping into oh my gosh chance encounter.

Talk to strangers.
Talk to more strangers.
Put yourself out there.
Don’t be scared.

Also, if they wear terrible t-shirts, tell them.

Trash them. Trash them publicly, trash them privately, trash them any way you want, but trash them. And you’ll be able to tell from their reaction, what kind of person they are.

The guy who used to wear the yellow t-shirt had a sense of humour. He laughed all the way through his public trashing.

Which is the other thing I learned.

Laugh at yourself.
Laugh out loud.
And chuckle.

Today I’ve been chuckling.

I woke up this morning and put the shirt on. It’s about a million sizes too big for me. It’s soft. Worn. Cosy.

It feels good.

And I’ve been feeling creative and arty and sexy in my oversized huge shirt.  I decided to paint.  The shirt is now red and blue and arsenic green and a mess and I love it.

I’m going to tell the guy who used to wear the yellow t-shirt that his shirt is no longer yellow.

That it’s a comfort shirt now.

He’ll chuckle.

I think. I know. I hope.


Violet and Walter

About twenty years ago I bought two paintings, prints, that I fell in love with. Bright, bold, abstract and erotic. I knew little about art, I think I’d vaguely heard of the artist, was nowhere close to my erotic phase, but at the time I just knew – I had to have them.

It was love at first sight.

The artist was Walter Battiss (1906-1982) who happens to be one of South Africa’s greats.

Not just in South Africa but worldwide.

Last night the Wits Art Museum opened their new exhibition – Walter Battiss, ‘I invented myself.’

The exhibit spans his five decades of work, paintings in various themes, media and style.

Abstract. Mystical. Whimsical. Beautiful. Real. Imagined. Romantic. Explicit. Political. Anarchistic. Erotic.

Each one as unique as he was.

And I am still on Cloud 9. Apart from the glitz and the glamour, the art world, the beautiful people, leopard print shoes and tons of red lipstick kiss kiss kissing, it was the feeling of being enveloped by all this art.

All this magnificent art. Over 700 works, brilliantly curated. A feast of delicious creative inspiring joy.

I wandered around then found a bench in the centre of the museum and just sat, soaking it all in. I kept being drawn to his erotica and found it interesting that Battiss only discovered erotica when he was older.

Perhaps when he was no longer inhibited.

A little like me, I like to think.

I’m home now and keep looking at the two prints above my bed. I should get them valued. They may be my future.

But I know, no matter how much they’re worth, I’m not parting with them. Ever.

They make me feel good, beautiful and inspired.

And lucky.

If you’re in Johannesburg, the exhibit is on for three months. The work has all been donated to the Wits Art Museum by the most astonishing generous unbelievably wonderful Jack Ginsberg. I was privileged enough to meet him last night.

I think I’m a little bit in love.

Sky Blue


This collection is being shown at The Wits Art Museum for the first time in an exhibition, curated by Warren Siebrits. It’s astonishing.


It’s not art

Yesterday I went to this inspiring outdoor exhibition, a land art thing where the artists use only natural materials they find in the park.

And as I was wandering and wondering, a man walked by with his teenage son, snapping pics of the sculptures.

Pretty cool, he said.

Astonishing. I replied. You’re lucky your son comes with you. My boys are just not interested.

The father nodded, sticking his chest out a bit.

He comes everywhere with me, he said proudly.

What do you think of the art, I asked the kid.

He grunted, which is pretty much what teenage boys do.

I figured he was shy.

It’s cool that you’re into it, I like…

The father interrupted.

Tell your boys there are hot bitches here, that’ll get them to come.

I was so taken aback that I actually answered him.

No, they won’t. That is just not their thing.

And then, and I quote, he continued:-

Better be careful babe, sounds like they could be gay.


The son had gone on ahead, probably mortified by his father.

I didn’t waste time trying to talk to this guy, instead turned and walked away.

Seriously. This is why boys are in trouble. Because their so called role models call girls Hot Bitches. And tell them being gay is something to be ashamed of.

The next sculpture was exquisite. A woman lying on her side, sleeping, sylph like, her bed the grass, her covers some palm leaves.

And all I could think was – she’s not safe. She is not safe. While men like him are in this world, none of us are.


Sculpture by Marina Walsh.

Jozi Land Art, Johannesburg

Every day

Make art
Write a poem
Eat cake
Take a bath
With bubbles
Have sex
Have more sex
Have all the sex
Make it messy
The sisterhood of women.
And some fabulous men.