My Personal Artist



One of the best things about having a personal blog is that you can basically write about whoever and whatever you like. Hopefully like-minded others will like it too.


I have a personal artist.  Someone who creates just for me and the world I inhabit, yet I have never been able to share this because in newspapers or magazines, it would be like promoting my own. Now, however, this is my space and I can. And more than any personal reason, because I believe it is a story worth sharing, as one man lives his life by spilling his emotions into his art – and thus telling his own personal story.

Meet Dries de Beer (or his art persona, Fatman), my husband and someone who spends his life creating anything and everything. It started with two young boys, twins in fact, walking fom Lyttleton into Pretoria’s city centre via the rail tracks for art classes. As he grew older with art as a subject it progressed to cartoons at varsity for the student newspaper and later, through our early years together,  wine lables and birthday cards to personalise gifts for special people.

A garden wonderland

Once we had moved into our own home, our personal space, the artist came out to play – big time. It was all about creating a world that was our own and it tumbled out in peculiar yet mesmerising ways. Felling some mighty trees that allowed our garden no sunlight, we were left with eyesore stumps which would be problematic to move – unless you gift wrapped and decorated them to spectacular effect.

A traditional pergola was turned into something that exploded with secrets – if you looked carefully. Ceramic gargoyles were crafted to enhance what could have been just another garden structure. And once these were perched at the end of each jutting pole, a whole fantasy world of ceramic hangings from fishes and their skeletons to chattering heads began to emerge.

Or even a garage cover:Chevron

Ceramics bit the dust and had run a gamut of different applications, daily walks turned into an expedition of found objects which were assimilated in glass tiles, each one telling their own story in a variety of ways.

20170807_16395120170807_163901The sight of a lonely cement garden ball, led to a bright yellow cement mixer and an experiment of creating more than 70 companion pieces which exploded into a garden installation.

In-between there was another ceramic period with unique hand-crafted and painted ceramic zebras, ceramic faces and sculptures that decorate our outside walls and then moving into large found-object sculptures that turn a garden tap into something extraordinary or hid an electric cable running down an outside wall. A lonely and melancholic scrap iron Don Quixote-like man, snatches at your heart when you enter the house

A plain-looking gate, at our car entrance was decorated to a point where it was just a matter of time before a hungry soul discovered that these tiny copper objects would be worth the effort and had a good go removing about half of the decorations. It still takes my breath away every time I have to stop to unlock the gate to enter and this time, what has been left, has also been left well alone.


Bins decorated with scrap vinyl make a pretty picture on our pavement on garbage collection days and the tar poles planted in our garden and then painted like bamboo with sculptures at the top are a discovery when you go exploring. Slightly hidden, they’re not there for the lazy viewer.

There’s more, but this is just a glimpse of what happens when someone finds different ways of telling stories.fatman dogs

And those from the lives of others. My personal story has been captured year by year and presented to me on my birthday which handily falls at the end of the year. The past year is explored and exposed in a book of cartoons which expresses the view of someone looking in of what they thought my year was like.

While receiving that particular artwork isn’t a surprise, the way it is done each year is completely new and innovative. What it means is that I have a visual diary of our lives in what is more than a decade of drawings – each set in a treasured book, one of a kind. It is a gift that cannot be duplicated.Collage Book 2 Face 37 to 42

Currently Fatman focuses on faces. It started a few years back when I received a gift wrapped with paper that featured one large oil-crayon drawn male face. These masculine faces popped up a few months later on outside table tops that were thus decorated for fun and visual effect.

Collage Black Book Face 13 to 14

Finally it developed into something else and perhaps more lasting. Last year was the start of what from the outside might seem a compulsion – of sorts. Mini portraits of predominantly male faces filled one notebook after another. Newspaper cuttings are often the reference point but not much more than that and each colourful individual drawing is done at quite a speed. And the results (for me), quite spectacular highlighting the individuality of each individual out there.

For the moment, it is his, which was started to practice on his own, before he got stuck into mine. For both of us blogging is a new outlet and something we hope will be fun as he practices his own art while I can get stuck into the art of others and share their stories and their work.

But I know this is the one I have been waiting to share for the longest time.

One thought on “My Personal Artist

  1. This is one I have been waiting for as I think the work is so amazing and moving, but hearing about art in South Africa will literally just keep me posted. Wonderful

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