Africa Meets Europe in World of Rock Art in Major Exhibit at the Sci-Bono Centre

In the world of Rock Art, Africa meets Europe for the first time in real life with an exhibition at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre writes DIANE DE BEER:

Lascaux cave
The Lascaux Caves


“We’re all African,” said French Ambassador to South Africa Christophe Farnaud when introducing the first exhibition of its kind The Wonders of Rock Art: Lascaux and Africa, at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre from May 17 to October 1.

In a first for Africa, European history meets African history with this unprecedented exhibition celebrating the rock art from two continents. The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg, in collaboration with the French Embassy in Pretoria and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), are bringing a replica of the world-famous Lascaux cave paintings and the cave itself to South Africa.

The Palaeolithic cave paintings, found in 1940 in the Lascaux caves near the village of Montignac in Dordogne, southwestern France, are around 17 000 years old and are mostly of large animals native to the region at the time. They are regarded as masterpieces because of their outstanding quality and sophistication. The replica is an exact reproduction of more than 2 000 figures painted on the walls of the caves and was done to protect the caves.

Origins Centre_The Dawn of Art_Object3
Origins Centre: The Dawn of Art

In an exhilarating coming together, they will go on show at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in May, alongside prehistoric South African rock art, for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with humanity’s earliest impulse for creative expression.

With the world’s first examples of art and symbolism, found in Southern Africa, (more than 100 000 years old), and Europe a home to some of the world’s most well-preserved prehistoric cave-art sites, one of the stakeholders, Mr Rufus Mmutlana, CEO of Gauteng City Region Academy, stressed that the past is a treasure trove of learning and this is where his interest lies.

“The exhibition points to the creativity of our ancestors with storytelling and a particular narrative innately human.” His field of expertise and focus is learning outside of formal education which is why when Dr More Chikane, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre CEO says that it is a place of learning, discovery, wonder but mostly fun because that’s exactly what learning is all about, this exhibition makes perfect sense for young and old.

Bulls in Lauscaux Caves

“It’s about the ingenuity of our ancestors, the way they started developing our first tools which were used for creativity and expression. It was all about making sense of and improving their worlds.”

That has always been the driving force in the world and something everyone can relate to. It is important to understand and experience how our world today was shaped by those ancient ancestors and their art.

This will be the first time that the Lascaux paintings will be exhibited alongside the oldest African art, celebrating the earliest works created by humans on two continents. And while the rock art was executed on different continents and thousands of years apart, the Lascaux and African rock paintings have much in common and point to one essential truth: there’s more that unites and binds us as people and cultures than there is that divides us all of the speakers pointed out.

The South African component of the exhibition, The Dawn of Art, is curated by the University of the Witwatersrand’s Rock Art Research Institute, the Origins Centre and IFAS-Recherche. It will include photographs of iconic South African rock art, as well as a display of priceless authentic pieces.

The Lascaux cave replica was meticulously recreated using materials and tools identical to those that the original artists used about 17 000 years ago and was replicated to preserve what has become a World Heritage site yet was closed in 1963 to protect the priceless artwork which was being damaged by the humidity and heat of so many visitors that visibly damaged the artwork.

Origins Centre_RARI
Origins Centre rock art

“We are excited, honoured and proud to host this remarkable, one-of-a-kind exhibition,” says Dr Chakane. “The combined exhibition will be seen nowhere else on earth. The masterpieces by our own African ancestors, viewed alongside those of the ancient Paleolithic Europeans, provide a unique opportunity to experience the very earliest dawn of human creativity.”

French ambassador to South Africa Christophe Farnaud adds: “France is proud to partner with Sci-Bono Discovery Centre to bring the Lascaux International Exhibition to Johannesburg, a first for Africa. As art and symbolism originated in Southern Africa, it will showcase an important part of our shared heritage. The exhibition highlights our long-lasting cooperation in the fields of culture, research and science in South Africa.”

The Lascaux exhibition was created by the Departmental Council of Dordogne, with the support of the Regional Council of New Aquitaine, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the European Union. The exhibition’s worldwide tour is organised by the SPL Lascaux International Exhibition.

A falling cow in Lascaux Caves

The Wonders of Rock Art sponsors include French banking group BNP Paribas and its South African subsidiary RCS; global oil and gas company Total South Africa; and Bolloré Transport & Logistics South Africa.

Their contribution will afford learners from disadvantaged communities the opportunity to participate in workshops and to be hosted by Sic-Bono.

 Work will start soon on assembling the exhibition, which opens at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre at the corner of Miriam Makeba and Helen Joseph Streets in Newtown on May 17.

Ambassador Farnaud concluded that the exhibition will be French, it will be South African, and most importantly, it will be human.


For more information, visit





A Delicate Balance in Artistic Tandem



Pretoria artists Sanna Swart (sculptor) and Lynette ten Krooden (painter) combined their different ways of looking at and interpreting the environment, the cosmos and the universe for an exhibiton titled A Delicate Balance at the Association of Arts Pretoria running until November 1.

DIANE DE BEER spoke to both artists about this collaboration:

Sanna en Lynette
Sanna Swart, Christo Burger( Acustica chamber singers who opened the exhibition) and Lynette ten Krooden

A collaboration between sculptor Sanna Swart and painter Lynette ten Krooden was inevitable.

They live and work in close proximity, deal in and explore the same issues yet work in different media. If you are superstitious or believe in synchronicity, you might think that this collaboration began because the Association if Arts Pretoria celebrates a 70th birthday while Ten Krooden has practised her art for 40 years and Swart has been sculpting for 30! Together their years of making art is on par with that of the Association.

But there’s more to their working together than that even though it is a fun fact to chew on.

Swart wanted to exhibit and with the two artists living and working like neighbours, their minds attuned, she invited an artist she has always looked up to, to collaborate.

“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it 10 years ago,” she admits, but these two artists are both in a place with their work which made this such a clever coming together.

delicate balance7
A selection at the Delicate Balance exhibition

They also knew they wanted to exhibit at the Association because of the gallery space. “It’s a space that was constructed specially to show art,” says Swart and there aren’t too many of those around.

When you walk into this exhibition which counter-balances the paintings of the one with the sculptures of the other, it makes complete sense. There’s a synergy that showcases the delicate balance and allows the work to breathe. There’s both a simplicity and a solemnity in the space which benefits the art.

As artists they are also both aware of the beauty of  “the place we call home” and of the fragility and delicate balance between human beings and nature. And that is where their art is focused.

Glacier Fish in stainless steel
Delicate Balance in stainless steel (Sanna Swart)

Swart has reclaimed forged stainless steel which she used to work with in her earlier days while Ten Krooden has for many years experimented with gold and silver leaf in her oil based paintings. She also experimented with natural oxidation on mild steel, which brought an even stronger symbiosis between the paintings and sculptures into play. The way the work has been displayed, the subjects each artist has selected, perfectly complement each other.

And it wasn’t as if they worked together in that sense. With an interest in the environment and the way each of us leave a mark whether we choose to or not, they talked about their intent with this exhibition and then worked on their different pieces.

“I was amazed how some of my work reflected some of the things Lynette was working on,” explains Swart as she talks about the way they think about the planet, the environment and how it affects each one of us.
For her specifically returning to stainless steel has been a freeing experience because of the process. “I was working with flat pieces of metal which I could shape and manipulate any way I wanted,” she says.

delicate balance6
KADASTRALE GRENSE/ oxidised steel (Lynette ten Krooden)

Ten Krooden on the other hand was amazed how her working process was given wings as her horisons expanded by this collaboration.

It is a confidence in their combined work that permeates this exhibition. And even though, each piece stands on its own, it is as if working together on an exhibition allowed them to breathe slightly more easily which reflects in the work.

delicate balance5
CELESTIAL GATHERING/ Bronze and stainless steel ( Sanna Swart) COSMIC DELTA/ Oxidised steel and gold leaf ( Lynette ten Krooden)

Some of Ten Krooden’s work encouraged Swart to give a three-dimensional vision to an idea that she picked up in a particular painting, she notes and between them, there was an energy that was greater than its individual force.

They both view themselves as “outsider” artists, not quite part of the establishment, but this coming together obviously had an effect on their work which is perhaps not what they expected to happen. It’s quite explosive.

They describe themselves as contemporary artists, working with the world as we view it today and hopefully making an impact.

Detail: ARCTIC DESERT (Lynette ten Krooden)

The exhibition runs until Wednesday 1 November 2017.

Association of Arts Pretoria

173 Mackie Street

Nieuw Muckleneuk


Tel:  012 346 3100

Gallery Hours

Tuesday to Friday:  9am to 6pm; Saturday: 9am to 1pm

Artist Margaret Nel shares Stories with Provocative Paintings at Retrospective

The Pretoria Art Museum, in conjunction with the Association of Arts Pretoria, is presenting a major retrospective exhibition by South African artist Margaret Nel at the Pretoria Art Museum until January 28, featuring a selection of over 70 paintings, spanning a career of over four decades.

Due to popular demand, the Pretoria Art Museum will be hosting a final walkabout of the exhibition A Retrospective: 1970 – 2017 on Saturday,  January 20 as the artist Margaret Nel discusses selected key works from the show.

Entry to the museum is free for those attending the walkabout. Light refreshments will be served before the walkabout commences at 11. Book your spot at by Thursday, January 18 .

For those unable to attend the walkabout, but who still wish to view the exhibition, the show closes on Sunday, January 28.


DIANE DE BEER spoke to the artist just before the opening:

Artist Margaret Nel’s world reflects her artistic mien, from her art to her home and her personal style.

She lives in Pretoria’s famous round house on Tom Jenkins drive and upon entering the space, the way she has fashioned her interiors – from the paintings on the wall (her own work and others) to the interiors – the way she presents herself, all has a specific artistic ambience. It’s almost as if one is moving with and walking into an evolving artwork.

In the process of finalising her exhibition, we chat about a career that stretches from the 70s and is ongoing. “I am always painting,” says Nel. “There’s not a year that goes by without having produced something.” She is already working on an exhibition to be presented at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein next year.

Apart from a period in the 80s, when she stepped away from her art because of a young family and life in general, it is what occupies her heart and her mind and what she surrounds herself with. And when perusing the information available on the current exhibition, everything she does is done with a fine eye for planning, not leaving anything to chance.

She has even thought about the criticism ahead of this retrospective. But she’s excited and keen to hear what people think, especially the knowledgeable ones. As someone who shows her work, she knows viewers feel and have the right to criticise. While as a young artist, she might have struggled with that, now it is something she embraces.

She wonders how others will view her progress, something she is quite happy with. “I am confident about my work,” she says softly. And that steely demeanour might have something to do with the fact that while studying and starting her career, female artists always found themselves attached to part of a boy’s club. “We had to deal with that, always in the minority.”

Barren Land: 1998: Waiting for the Renaissance

Now, regarding her work in a retrospective, she is interested to see how it holds up in a solo exhibition. “Usually it is juxtaposed with the work of other artists and then it becomes difficult to judge,” she admits. She realises that certain periods like what she refers to as her Post Modern period could be perceived as out of step but believes the themes are even more relevant. “I touched on subject matter, such as xenophobia and diminishing and compromised natural resources, at a time when these issues were not as relevant as they are currently.”

The original title of the exhibition was Loss as it felt that as a concept, loss was the overarching theme, connecting the five distinct periods that her work falls into, over 40 years.

The Outsider: 1970 Tea-time

“Loss of identity and control and loss of mental acuity are covered in the early period titled The Outsider as well as in the second titled Barren Land, where loss of culture and heritage as well as the potential loss of a sustainable future are also explored. The third section titled Incident talks about loss of security and a place of safety, specifically in the South African context but also in the global context.

“The fourth section titled Exposed deals with loss of protection from outside elements. And finally, the fifth, deals almost exclusively with universal feminist issues such as loss of identity, and loss of youth, loss of a voice in a male dominated society. I also obliquely speak about domestic abuse in the latest work, a subject very close to my heart and very difficult to comment on in a subtle way. Cuts of meat, enclosed in a fragile skin of plastic which is often shown ripped open is used as a metaphor.”

Exposed: 2013: Isolate

“I use models, myself included, not to paint portraits but to try to get across an idea. The double portrait of myself where I used a cell phone to capture a ‘selfie’ is titled Isolate and speaks about old age, loss of youth etc etc.” She shows herself as she really is – warts, ageing et all. There’s no fooling about here. Art is a release, therapy, autobiographical if obliquely so and you must face it head-on.

“Ultimately I explore aspects of the human condition that have directly touched me.”

Nel strikes one as someone who makes very specific choices in life. She might seem the introvert when one first meets her, but easily opens up and shares her feelings when she feels comfortable – her choice.

Her reason for showing her work in this large retrospective is also specifically driven. She admits, as artists should, that she wants people to see her work. “And hopefully educate and make people more aware of the issues that I find important.”

2015: Custard buns

All her paintings have very specific titles, offering the viewer a key to unlock the work and she has detailed descriptions that might further the understanding of the artist’s point of view. But she is as thrilled if other layers or meanings are uncovered and explored by viewers.

“The work can be interpreted on many levels though, even quite superficially, and ultimately it must be left up to the viewer,” she says firmly.


Her art is eye-catching, intriguing, draws you in, challenges and encourages you to engage with many different emotions. This might be her chosen landscape, but with individual interpretations and varied life experiences, different people will react and embrace the work individually.

And that’s how it should be and how it is intended.


Pretoria Art Museum
Cnr Schoeman and Wessels Str
Arcadia Park


Open: Tuesdays to Sundays 10am to 5pm




Winners of 2017 Sasol New Signatures Negotiate their Narratives by harnessing the Power of the Arts

Overall winner Lebohang Kganye with her animated film ‘Ke sale teng’, which means ‘I’m still here’ in Sesotho.


Art has the power to address issues that are uncomfortable to talk about or deal with – and start a conversation.


Speaking her mind is last year’s Sasol New Signatures winner Zyma Amien who is presenting her solo exhibition, “Real” lives and “Ordinary” objects: Partisan art-making strategies with garment workers in the Western Cape… continuation, alongside this year’s winning works at the Pretoria Art Museum.

Johannesburg-based artist, Lebohang Kganye, 27, has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. She won the coveted award for her animated film ‘Ke sale teng’, which means ‘I’m still here’ in Sesotho.

As the winner, Kganye received a cash prize of R100 000 and the chance to have a solo exhibition in next year’s competition at the Pretoria Art Museum.

This year’s theme was “be discovered”.  “Noteworthy this year has been the diversity of the submissions received. This demonstrates that Sasol New Signatures is making progress in reaching emerging artists from all walks of life,” said Charlotte Mokoena, Sasol Executive President for Corporate Affairs and Human Resources.

Sthenjwa Luthuli wins 2nd prize for his woodcut work titled Umbango, which means ‘conflict’ in isiZulu.

Coming in second place was Sthenjwa Luthuli from KwaZulu-Natal. He won for his woodcut work titled Umbango, which means ‘conflict’ in isiZulu.  The work reflects the cultural politics within traditional Zulu rituals and customs in a contemporary family setting.
“The piece I submitted is constructed in an aesthetically pleasing technique, yet on the contrary, contains really complex subjects in terms of their content. It reflects domestic contradictions inside traditional Zulu contemporary family methods.”

And that was the interesting phenomenon about this year’s entries as showcased in the two winning works but also the five merit award winners. There was a strong sense that these individual artists were negotiating their family narratives and using their art to claim and establish their personal stories.

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Goitseone Botlhale Moerane (Pretoria) – Mosadi o tswara thipa ka bogaleng

“My mother encouraged me to find a way to deal with some of my personal issues in a manner that people would take notice,” said Goitseone Moerane whose work of family pictures titled Mosadi o tswara thipa ka bogaleng (translated as “a woman holding a knife’s blade”) received one of the five merit awards. She was puzzled by the subservient role women play in especially traditional or cultural situations in her family and drew a correlation between the Shweshwe dresses they wore on these occasions and the behaviour.

“I used the Shweshwe cloth as a metaphor for what the black woman is expected to be; a mother, a wife or makoti, a provider, a domestic as well as a good daughter-in-law.” That’s why she replaced the women’s body and faces with the cloth, as it represents what was expected of women and what they were taught to aspire to be.

Sticking to the theme of family, overall winner Lebohang Kganye’s Ke sale teng (I am still here) confronts how family photo albums no longer have a fixed narrative, but instead, opens us to reinterpret our past. She was intrigued when exploring her family history by how different the stories were, with one common denominator, her grandfather, who featured strongly in every narrative.

“He was the first one of the family who moved to the city and I refer to him as the Pied Piper,” she explains. As a photographer by profession, that’s the central part of all her art but in this instance it was cutout family pictures which she transformed into animation reflecting a kind of pop-up album with the stories all performed as they were told to her.

‘Identity’  is the word that comes to mind most strongly with many of the New Signature works, that and the way these narratives inform not only the artists, but also the viewers. In this country, getting those personal narratives into a public space has a seismic effect.

Not only does it speak to the storyteller’s identity, it also shapes role models for future generations and in a country where there are so many cultural differences for example, it is a way of introducing our people – especially to one another.

And these are just three of the examples. The diversity of the participants is also reflected in the diversity of the exhibition. With an animated piece walking off with the New Signatures grand prize this year, and the second placed Luthuli’s win for his woodcut work and one of the merit awards having her say with family photographs, it reflects the overall picture.

There is a commonality in theme, yet diversity in medium.

The 5 Merit Award Winners are:


Cara Jo Tredoux - Wandering
Cara Jo Tredoux – Wandering
Carol Anne Preston - Cocoon 1
Carol Anne Preston – Cocoon
Francke Crots - Dr Crots fucked up anatomy a
Francke Crots – Dr Crots fucked up anatomy
Emily Harriet Bulbring Robertson - Emergency procedure for dinner with family
Emily Harriet Bulbring Robertson – Emergency procedure for dinner with family
Goitseone Moerane - Mosadi a tswara thipa ka bogaleng
Goitseone Moerane – Mosadi a tswara thipa ka bogaleng (woman holds the sharp end of the knife)

Last year’s Sasol New Signatures winner Zyma Amien will be hosting her solo exhibition, “Real” lives and “Ordinary” objects: Partisan art-making strategies with garment workers in the Western Cape… continuation, alongside this year’s winning works at the Pretoria Art Museum.  All 119 shortlisted artworks will be exhibited alongside the winners at the Pretoria Art Museum until 8 October 2017.

State of the art in Joburg with the opening of the 10th FNB JoburgArtFair this week

Art is in the air as the annual FNB Joburg Art Fair returns to the Sandton Convention Centre for its 10th edition, from Friday to Sunday (8 – 10 September 2017).

Robin Rhode_Paradise08And with these celebrations, they welcome Robin Rhode back – the featured artist at the very first Fair in 2008 and now once again as 2017’s featured artist. Rhode’s most recent body of work resonates with the concept of ‘Looking Forward’.

“In preparing for the 10th anniversary edition,” says Mandla Sibeko, Director of the FNB JoburgArtFair, “we asked ourselves if we ever simply reflect on a scenario without imagining the potential outcomes, or envision a future without considering the past?

“So we used this natural moment of reflection and celebration as a framework for the focus of this year’s Fair – to interrogate how closely the acts of ‘Looking Back & Looking Forward’ are tied. We’ll be looking back at the legacy of Modern and Contemporary African Art while looking forward to the future possibilities of artistic practices, communities and markets on the continent.”

As featured artist, currently based in Berlin, Rhodes obscures obvious age, race or even gender from his imagery, favouring instead the constants of geometry, balance and colour theory.

For this exhibition, he moves out of his comfort zone which has been the anonymity of the public space outside to a much more intimate environment in the Convention Hall. He is interested in both himself as the artist and then the spectators, all of whom become part of the experience.

He describes the results of his art as eerily comforting avatars in the age of globalisation – iconography with which anyone may identify.

In the same spirit of ‘Looking Back’, Dr. Zoe Whitley of London’s Tate Modern, curates an exhibition entitled ‘Truth, or some other abstraction’, looking at how South African modern artists voiced their stories and how those stories shaped our contemporary understanding of history.

Borrowing works not often on public display from Gauteng’s collections, Whitley’s curatorial investigation of the modern South African narrative aims to demonstrate the importance that our past plays on present realities.

Lady Skollie_TG-WINDV-0014-B-300
Lady Skollie

In these gender sensitive times, the solo presentations are dominated by women with six of the eight artists being female.  South African artists include Sethembile Msezane – represented by Gallery MOMO (Joburg & Cape Town), Lady Skollie by Tyburn Gallery (London), Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi by the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (Seattle) and Bronwyn Katz by blank projects (Cape Town). In Toto Gallery will showcase Ilana Seati, and SMAC Gallery will present newe work by Chemu Ng’ok’s. SMITH Studios will exhibit a unique presentation of the collective HOICK and ELA – Espaço Luanda Arte will present António Ole.

The Fair features over 60 exhibitions within 5 categories, including Contemporary and Modern Art, Solo Presentations, Limited Editions and Art Platforms. The selected galleries and organisations hail from 11 countries across Africa, Europe and the United States.

More detail:

  •       The Contemporary section will feature MOV’ART (Luanda), exhibiting for the first time here, while Addis Fine Art (Addis Ababa) and Circle Art Agency (Nairobi) both return for a second time. Other new exhibitors include 50ty/50ty (Joburg) in Limited Editions, NWU Gallery (Potchefstroom) and Under Ground Contemporary (Kampala) in Art Platforms.
  • Peju Alatise_photo 1
    Peju Alatise

    Nigerian artist, Peju Alatise, has been announced the 2017 recipient of the coveted FNB Art Prize. She received a cash prize as well as the opportunity to be showcased in a dedicated exhibition space at the Fair. She is a mixed-medium artist, poet and published writer who is passionate about addressing social, political and gender-related issues as well as capturing the joys and pain of womanhood in modern-life-African traditions.

  • New to  Fair, Cartier will be showcasing exceptional jewelry and watch creations, and a selection of artworks created by the students of Johannesburg-based art schools, The Artists Proof Studio and The Market Photo Workshop.
  • Esther Mahlangu (1)
    Esther Mahlangu

    Also exhibiting for the first time, BMW presents a BMW 7 Series by Ndbele artist Esther Mahlangu. Following her famous design 26 years ago, in 2016 she was once again commissioned to refine a BMW 7 Series, which was exhibited at the Frieze London art fair.

  • Lalela will host the Educational Programme and Artinsure will host the Art Tours. Professor Federico Freschi and Magkati Molebatsi will lead the walkabouts, giving art lovers an insight into some of the works on display.”
  • This year, the addition of a Film Programme will be headlined by the Centre For the Less Good Idea, the brainchild of acclaimed artist William Kentridge. On Friday, audiences can enjoy  specially curated selections of video works from their first season, which will be projected on a large outdoor screen in Nelson Mandela Square.
  • The Talks Programme  at the Theatre on the Square includes featured artist Robin Rhode and The Armory Show (New York) Director Benjamin Genocchio – each delivering a keynote – as well as a conversation that looks at The School of Anxiety, a project by Moses Serubiri, showcased at the 10th Berlin Biennal


The FNB JoburgArtFair takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre, Exhibition Hall 1, 161 Maude Street, Sandton

Opening times: Friday: 11am – 8pm; Saturday: 11am – 7pm; Sunday: 11am – 5pm

Tickets are R150 and can be purchased through

The Talks Programme and Film Programme are free and open to the public. No advance booking is required.

For more information, please visit:




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.