Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wonderland, Yonder-land, Paradise or Eden.

The Long Black Veil - Jeffrey Docherty (Data Flow - Visualising Information in Graphic Design; )

Here we see the ethereal landscape of the music scene, an ever-changing confluence of sounds and people, shaping, forming, and interpreting, to create the distinct identity of a generation. This sound scape is dedicated to the legendary Tony Wilson a formative figure in bringing British punk to the foreground of the music scene. The solitary strands of white, etched against the black background, trace an auditory topographical map of the 'Madchester' zeitgeist.

Back to work- towards a bowl of fruit of ideal beauty, ingredients of paradise. It is therefore necessary to research Paradise and Eden., with fragrance and fresh fruit to further delight mind and body. The Sumerian-Babylonian paradise, or Garden of the Gods (Christianity, Judaism and Islam - living in harmony with God), was the idyllic garden of peace and plenty reserved for immortals (foretaste of heaven to come) , corresponding to Homer's Elysian Fields and the mystic islands dwelt in by the immortals of Chinese Fables.

House Peter Amm, 20 hectares in Kloof KZN, South Africa.

One of the most splendid gardens I have ever had the privilege to enjoy - my own paradise for the past weekend. Truly paradise in the true Hobhouse garden fashion; complete with life-size sculptures. A self sustainable contained aesthetic wonder, created by the Amm family and perfected by Peter Amm himself.

What is Paradise?

"In most traditions Paradise is an enclosed garden, a garden-island or a green Isle, notable exceptions being Christian, where as the New Jerusalem it is a city. One expects there to be perfect communion between God and man and all living things. It also represents the innermost soul, the abode of immortality; a place where time stands still. Great time; the state in which heaven is so close to the earth that it can be reached by climbing atree, creeper or mountain, or an axial symbol" (Cooper J 2005, An Encyclopaedia of Symbols, Paradise)

The stoep, House Peter Amm, 20 hectares in Kloof KZN, South Africa. My paradise for the past weekend.

J C Cooper describes paradise as an enclosed space or surrounded by the sea and is only open to the heavens. As god and man can communicate there, so man and animals live in perfect accord and speak the same language (harmony and tolerance). symbols of paradise are the centre; the enclosed and secret garden, having bird song and scented flowers; the rose garden; the island of the Blessed; the Green Isle; Elysian Fields; the promised land; El Dorado; a cluster of Pearls Chinese (Cooper 2005;Paradise)

House Peter Amm, 20 hectares in Kloof KZN, South Africa.

What is a garden asks Hobhouse. "the English word derives from the French jardin and the Teutonic roots of the word 'yard' - an enclosure, usually walled or fenced, in which soil has been worked for growing plants of various kinds. the concept goes back beyond the Judaeo-Christian traditions of the Garden of Eden and the imagery derived from it, which the Muslims transformed into a terrestrial paradise, literally a foretaste of heaven to come. For me the equation add up to a 'garden' only when an extra element is added; some kind of choice and control of the layout, decided for aesthtic reasons" (Hobhouse P, 2002 The Story of Gardens P 9)

Nathji celebrating with Gopis, 1820 (opaque watercolor on paper) 34 x25.4cm.
The joyous scene celebrates the arrival of spring and cooler weather. The lush surrounding trees are filled with parrots and peacocks, are complimented by the brightly decorated palace doors and windows. The scrolling wave-like clouds are dark with the promise of rain (Sotheby's important Indian miniatures from the P Walter collection; p37).

Moghal gardens of India - they created gardens encapsulating the idea of paradise. Especially Babur, The Emperor -Gardener. His credentials as an oriental conqueror could hardly be improved upon. His main emphasis in his well documented diaries and manuscripts were on the fauna and flora of India, "which he notes with the care of a born naturalist and describes with the eye of a painter" (Gascoigne B, 2002 The great Moghuls, 27). Hobhouse states (2002;84) that Moghul gardens were geometric, with a central water channel crossed at right angles with smaller channels, each containing flowerbeds, the best example being the incomparable Taj below .

The Taj Mahal. Image (Hobhouse P. 2002, The Story of Gardening, Dorling Kindersle Ltd London).

Islamic Gardens - heavenly beauty, earthly delight. Hobhouse states that the Islamic religion turned the purely physical, earthbound into the celestial paradise that awaits the righteous after death - a paradise that, reveals the Koran, ' shall be abounding in branches, therein fountains of running water, and every fruit there shall be two kinds. The believers shall find themselves reclining on couches lined with brocade, the fruits of the garden nigh to gather, and will find therein maidens restraining their glances....lovely as rubies, beautiful as coral... green, as green pastures, therein fountains of running water, fruits and palm trees, and pomegranates..."

Yin and Yang. Image (Hobhouse P. 2002, The Story of Gardening, Dorling Kindersle Ltd London)

'These rocks in the Lui Yuan, a 16 century Suzhou garden, represent mountains, the embodiment of the hard masculine quality of Yang. To be complete, a Chinese garden must also include water, representing the complementary but opposite female quality of Yin' (Hobhouse Penelope 2002:325).

The garden being a microcosm of the universe - Firstly meaning a little world; especially: the human race of human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe. Secondly - a community or other unity that is the epitome of a larger unity.

Penelope Hobhouse states in the Chinese Garden, nature and humankind are partners in a space that is designed to 'stand in' for the totality of the universe. Plants are accessories, yet they are charged with literary, artistic and philosophical meanings. They are a source of emotional and intellectual stimulation.

Walk in the Garden, Gustave Dore (plate 90) .
The forbidden fruit is linked to the Judaic, Christian and Islamic understanding of the garden of Eden - Paradise lost. Here are some notable reference material I have investigated.

"Paradise lost, or Fall, symbolises the descent from unity into duality and multiplicity in manifestation; the movement away from the centre of perfection and dispersal and disintegration in the world of multiplicity. Paradise regained is the return to unity, to the spiritual centre, mand conquest of himself and regaining pristine innocence" Cooper JC 2005: Paradise).

Paradise Lost is an Epic poem by John Milton (1667) concerning mankind's disobedience and consequent expulsion from Paradise through Satan's Agency. It has become the blind poet's best-known work through its panoramic vistas and master of language.

Here is an extract from book one.

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restores us, and regain the blissful seat
Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed

Sunday, September 20, 2009

African Ceramics Conference

Nala N. Burnished and blackened ceramic pot.

African Ceramics in the spotlight. The Centre for Visual Arts at the University of KwaZulu Natal is hosting an international ceramics conference to address a wide range of topics from an African perspective. The Keynote address will be given by Magdalene Odundo. The event started with an exhibition that opened on Friday at the Tatham Art Gallery (works by KZN University Alumni) and a series of workshops (19 & 21 Sept). The offcial conference starts on Tuesday (22 Sept) and will run until Thursday (25 Sept). 33 papers will be delivered. I am attending and will present a paper titled, for You, for Ceramics, for Ever on Tuesday afternoon, after tea (hence the non activity on my blog). I also will be doing a review of the conference for the local ceramic's magazine, National Ceramics, the official mouthpiece for Ceramics SA.

Legg Michelle, Burnished Ceramic Vessel - lace decoration.

Uphiso, N Nala (detail)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Homage to Braam Kruger, The Kitchenboy.

Braam Kruger 1950 -2008

This blog entry pays homage to one of my favourite painters, Braam Kruger, who passed away in 2008. Above is a photograph of him in front of one of his many self portraits. Below is some of his oil paintings, showcasing his diverse skills as a painter. Also find details of a retrospective exhibition of his work on view in Johannesburg until the 14 of October.

Cover of Catalogue.
on sale at the exhibition
Parody Lost (one of may self portraits.)
80 X 69 cm

Retrospective Exhibition information.

A retrospective exhibition of his oil paintings opened at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery (the Kingsway Campus) last Wednesday, 2 September 2009. Gallery Hours are from Mon - Fri 09:00 - 18:00. and Saturdays from 09:00 - 13:00. The exhibition runs until 14 October and is a must see for all his fans and those who live a decadent life.

Lake Victoria.
Oil on Panel
80 X 120 cm

Braam played with woman, he also played with food and now we have his rich, vibrant, erotic, humorous and masterly crafted paintings on display, a testimony to his ability as an artist to play with oil paint. There are numerous similarities in the way we viewed life and realised our works. We both had a passion for food and it is therefore appropriate to showcase some of his works ( to promote the exhibition) in the context of my present exploration of fruit.

Pink Jelly
Oil on board
39 X 30 cm

I had the privilege to have many a conversation with him during his humble beginnings as a celebrity chef at Kitchenboy (his first restaurant) in Troyeville. I also have fondest memories of him at his best, in his restaurant in China Town in Cyrildene, especially during the Chinese new year celebrations. Braam always looked the part, lived life to the full, and when in front of the easel, he could really really paint. "Lank sal hy lewe in sy Gloria" Braam I salute you.

The White Nile.
Oil on board
120 X 157 cm

Venus & Avocado Tree
Oil on Panel
75 x 90 cm
1991, Langbult Farm, Limpopo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tattooed Rats; Active / Passive - Action / Passion.

The Self Righteous and the outcast
Painting and Sgraffito, black under-glaze colour, fired to 1240 degree Celsius. 180mm length x 130mm height

A small gallery of selected works from my last exhibition. The chosen pieces, showcasing the diverse range of tattooed rats (realised in different ceramic techniques and processes), were professionally photographed in a studio with proper lighting. What a difference it makes.

The Pansy and the Roses
Colour transfers, gold and platinum lustre, fired to 1120 degree Celsius. 190mm length x 140mm height

The Queen in the face of hell
Painting and Sgraffito, various under-glaze colours, fired to 1240 degree Celsius. 180mm length x 130mm height

Crafty Rats
Painting and Sgraffito, black and brown under-glaze colour, fired to 1240 degree Celsius. 180mm length x 130mm height

The Cardinal and the queer
Colour and black transfers, gold and platinum lustre, fired to 1120 degree Celsius. 190mm length x 140mm height.

The Pansy and the Self Righteous
Painting and Sgraffito, various under-glaze colours, fired to 1240 degree Celsius. 180mm length x 130mm height