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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Inspired to create in the Northern Cape

One of the Art Therapy blogs I worked on during my trip

In today's blog, I wish to take you on an inspirational journey with me. I want you to explore your creative side and to discover new outlets for your talents, emotions and thoughts. I am going to show you how I have allowed my travels through the Northern Cape to influence my work. I draw from the places and experiences I've shared with you in the past couple of blogs for this purpose. We are going to look at different creative outlets, such as photography, poetry, and painting. We are also going to see what we can do to involve the children in our lives in our experiences. Today, in the aftermath of a great journey, we get inspired to create.

Inspiration lurks around every corner when you travel

Whenever I travel, I try to draw as much away from my experiences as I can. I take thousands of photos, and I download these meticulously every evening, labeling the folders with dates and names of places, so that I can keep track. I find that if I don't do it this way, the places, events and routes tend to get all jumbled up in my mind. All of these photos, don't simply sit in a folder on my computer, though. I revisit it frequently, and peruse it often when I look for inspiration for my arts and crafts blog, A Pretty Talent, or when I take on commissioned paintings.

Even a play park in the rain, can make for interesting photos. Simply adjust the angle to gain a new perspective.

Let's start with the kids. I am aunt to five nephews and nieces, with a 14 year age gap between the oldest and the youngest. The oldest two are already teenagers, and when I share my experiences with them, I can use photos and stories, the same as I would with any adult. The younger ones long to be more involved. Returning home from the trip, everyone was on hand to help with the unloading of the luggage. This quickly led to the discovery of the red 'sand' I collected at Hondeklipbaai. They were thrilled to come across the bag filled with shells, as well. The suggestion was immediately made that we should do some art with it, a proposal that filled me with great pride and joy. It implied that these youngsters, in whom I had invested a lot of time to develop their creativity, was starting to see the possibilities in things, the same way their aunt did.

The red sand beach at Hondeklipbaai 

The shell-strewn beaches at Hondeklipbaai

It was not long after, that I called the three younger ones together and we used the shells and sand in some artwork. I wrote a blog about this for A Pretty Tourist's sister blog, titled A Pretty Talent. Follow the link to find out more about the process and thinking that went into this project. I was thrilled by the interest the oldest of my nephews took in the crushed garnets as well. He commandeered the youngest nephew and the two of them spent hours washing the sand and removing all the stones and pebbles from it, so we could use it in our art. He has long since had a fascination with stones and have been collecting it for years.

The kids incorporating red sand and shells in their own art

Hondeklipbaai had some of its own artists to marvel at as well. I am sure there must be more artists in Hondeklipbaai, but the two I came across, are located right next to the coffee shop, and I was bound to pass by their gallery quite frequently. It is always fascinating to see how different artists interpret their own surroundings, and which things appeal to them most. It gives you yet another way of looking at the place you find yourself in, when you travel.
Kunstenaars op Hondeklipbaai

The inside/outside gallery at Hondeklipbaai

Hondeklipbaai also afforded some of the most exquisite photo shoots one could hope for. Initially, when decided to write this blog, I thought I would show some photos that I had manipulated on the computer. Imagine doing something as simple as rendering these photos in black and white, or sepia. I decided against doing this and opted to rather show you the originals, and telling you what it was that appealed to me in the photos. This way, you can find it easier to find your own great shots when next you go travelling with your camera. I start with a photo shoot at the ship wreck just outside of town.

A photo struggles to capture the size of the wrecked vessel where it sits high above the tidal line on the rocks. 

 When moving in up close to a subject, one gains a whole new perspective on the scene.

 I was fascinated by the contrast achieved between the cool colors in the background, offset against the warm colors in the foreground. The decaying wreck also opened new 'windows', which afforded a unique view on the breaking waves, creating natural frames for the expansive vista.

The interaction the wreck had with its surroundings was a source of joy to me. In this photo we see the sky, the rocks, the sea shells and the wreck. Each of these elements bring a unique set of characteristics to the photo. 

The 'rib cage' of the wreck had me crawling inside it to capture the dramatic play of light and shadow.

 I an era where 'steam punk' has become very popular, the fascination of old and rusty machinations will have a wide appeal and this wreck afforded many brilliant photos of this kind.

Another aspect of the wreck that appealed to me was the variations in texture. In this photo we see broken edges along with much smoother ones. We also have the flat surface of the rock, complimented by the knobbly surface created by the bolts. Some surfaces have gained the appearance of being porous, while others remain impenetrable. Brilliant!

Decaying wood will always hold a fascination all its own. I was intrigued by the fact that some of the wood seemed to be less corroded and decayed than the strong metal. 

I could take hundreds of photos of this one wreck and keep coming up with even more ideas. Change the weather conditions, or the time of day, and the whole scene changes with it. Look out for gems such as these in your travels.

Sometimes, I also use the photos I take on my travels, to inspire my paintings.

The small interpretations of the Alpacas were inspired by the Alpacas at The Shack Coffee House in Hondeklipbaai. Read about these paintings here.

I painted this intercessor as an emotional response to the praying I did on this trip, for my friend, who was bombarded by thieves and crooks after her husband passed away. You can read more about this painting here. 

The Sun Catcher was another painting that came forth as an emotional response to the whole trip. I felt like a little girl who held the sun by a string, after the energizing trip. However, I wrote a poem, inspired by someone else's story, that influenced my interpretation of my own painting, even though it had nothing to do with the trip. You can read more about the painting here. 

This landscape was inspired by some of the scenes on the way to Montagu. I combined a couple of photos and gave the painting my own interpretation. You can read more about this painting here.

This seascape was the result of a combination of two photographs. One was taken in Bloubergstrand and the other in Lambertsbaai. I combined them to create my own scene. You can read more about this painting here.

Art is not restricted to the visual genre. My travels also inspire me to write. The blogs are a natural outflow of the travels, but I also write poetry and stories, both long and short. I have already shared the painting of the sun catcher with you. This is the poem that resulted from the painting, titled Sun Catcher.

The sun cracked up the sky
with laughter spilling red from its wide open mouth
Birds echoed its giggle
and swooped through its warm embrace

Somewhere a child was born

and its gurgles filled the hearts of the new parents with the same warm
hat the sun lavishly spilled onto the earth
The child lassoed the sun, roping it into their lives with warm fingers

Summer was never as warm as when the child came into their lives

Winter was never so absent
The child gave and gave and gave of its love
and the sun shone down on all who did, or did not, deserve it.
An original poem by Miekie

Another poem inspired by these travels is called Voiceless Cities:

I have visited great cities in this world
and found them speechless, silent,
hoarse, with voiceless laryngitis
I strained my ear, but could not hear them.
Dubai opened its mouth and gurgled strange noises at me
through a gaping hole of opulence and luxury.
Amsterdam confused me with too many streets,
too many faces, and too few fixed opinions.
Glasgow sputtered about old and new
and lost its voice in compromise.
London, Paris, Jo’burg, stared at me with silence,
with no introduction and no identity.
It was only when I stood in the open field of the Karoo,
with my toes curled into its warm sand,
with endless emptiness, stretching before and above,
that I heard a clear and distinct voice calling loudly,
welcoming me home and stretching its embrace wide.

My soul responded with a resonating ‘yes!’ and I was at peace.
An original poem by Miekie

Yet another poem is called Driftwood:

We are all driftwood
in an ocean of encounters,
flotsam of each others’ lives.
Tossed to and fro by the waves,
without direction or guidance,
we bounce up and sink down low,
utterly delivered unto the tides and times.
Destiny has decided our fate
and we drift aimlessly along,
until we smash against a rock
and are forced to decide.
Do we yield, or do we resist?
Resisting, we’re knocked into splinters,
and we rejoice, for we are more,
not realizing how much we are reduced.
Yielding, we gain a foothold
and we anchor against that rock
and gradually are wedged deeper
and deeper until we become one
with it and toss around no more.
The waves still crash, the storms still rage,
yet we are unmoved, unshaken, firm
for we have found strength in One
who has faced the storms and overcome,

who have raced the oceans and have won.
An original poem by Miekie

A poem inspired by my friend's grief was called A Time To Grieve:

There is a pain that transcends thinking,
is not limited by understanding,
and refuses to be captured in words.

The soul has a space that embraces anguish,
where sadness is caressed and nurtured,
where grief sprouts beds of blooms.

And when pain, sadness, anguish and grief reaches maturity,
the heart opens up and gushes out its sorrow,
bleeding tears down stricken faces.

It bleeds again and again, over and over,
everyday anew as if for the first time,
until one day, finally, it is cleansed.

On that day the heart's wounds start closing,
It accepts, restores and heals, albeit gradually,

until at last the heart fondly cherishes memories
An original poem by Miekie

I also wrote some poems in my mother tongue, Afrikaans. I post these here for the benefit of the many readers who understand this language as well. The first is called Vreemde Bemindes (Beloved Strangers):

My lyf het op ver plekke gaan draai
waar hoë winde waai
en lae vlaktes ver reik
om my van nader te bekyk.

My voete het vreemde paaie geloop
om my van my kind te stroop
Teerpad, grondpad, doringpad
en sommer waterlangs het ek rigting gevat.

My hande het aan vreemde dinge gevoel
wyl my verstand met vreemde klanke woel
my mond nuwe smake ontdek
en my neus die geure oopvlek.

Plekke, mense en gewoontes was ongewoon
en tog was elke nuwe plek se groot vertoon
alreeds bekend en reeds bemind
wanneer ek ‘n kennis in ‘n onbekende vind.

So vind ek dan bemindes
tussen vreemde eensgesindes,
en strooi my hart soos saad
na elkeen wat ek agterlaat
An original poem by Miekie

Another poem was called Stiltetyd (A Time for Silence):

Vanuit die veld hoor ek my God roep
"Môre my kind. Kom sit. Gesels."
Maar ek jaag verby, want ek is haastig"
Nie nou nie. Later. Nou moet ek eers ..."

Lunch time hoor ek God roep bo die geskarrel
"Middag my kind. Kom Sit. Gesels."
Maar ek is haastig. Daar's 'n lys met 'n duisend dinge
"Nie nou nie. Later. Nou moet ek eers ..."

Vasgevang in die laatmiddagverkeer, hoor ek God roep
"Middag my kind. Jy sit nou. Kom ons gesels."
Maar dis belangriker om te hoor wat die radio oor die traffic sê
"Nie nou nie. Later. Ek wil nou eers by die huis kom."

Met die huis versorg is daar tyd om voor die tv te ontspan
"Naand my kind. Noudat jy sit, kan ons mos maar gesels."
Maar ek is moeg, nie lus vir skuldgevoelens of nuwe opdragte nie
"Net nie nou nie. Miskien môre. Ek wil net bietjie rus."

En dan bars 'n bom in my netjies geordende lewe
en alles wat ek vertrou lê in chaos en ek bal my vuis na bo
"Waar was U dat U dit nie kon verhoed nie? Te besig?!"
Maar soos ek die woorde bulder, voel ek die klag aan my eie lyf

"My kind."
"Is U nog daar?"
"Altyd my kind. Kom sit. Gesels."
An original poem by Miekie

There are many more poems and paintings I can tell you about, but these will suffice for the purpose of the blog. What I really want to leave you with, is the sense of inspiration. We leave a footprint on this earth. This is true. But it also leaves a footprint on our souls, and we should embrace that.

The lighthouse in Hondeklipbaai

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy my books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
You can follow Miekie's daily Bible Study blog, Bybel Legkaart, here in English & Afrikaans.
You may prefer to follow the traveling blog, A Pretty Tourist.
For more crafty ideas and great products, visit A Pretty Talent on Facebook.
Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
You can subscribe to any of these blogs to receive regular updates by email, by simply registering your email address at the top of the applicable blog.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Roundtrip: Kimberley, De Aar, Victoria West, Loxton and more

Loxton main street on a Monday morning

In the previous blog, I told you about a night L and I spent at Camp Nguni, just outside Victoria West. This was only half a tale, as I have not yet told you about the road trip we took to get there and back. In today's blog, we start in Kimberley, stop in Jacobsdal for wine and grape juice, pass through Britstown and spend two nights in De Aar. We then head off to Victoria West, where we spend the night at Camp Nguni. The next day we stop at a number of small towns on our way back to Kimberley, among which is Loxton, a town I had been wanting to see for ages!

An interesting road user on the way to Jacobsdal 

Landzicht Wines, outside Jacobsdal - best grape juice! 

Seen at Landzicht Wines

As L had business to take care of at Camp Nguni, and family in De Aar, it seemed logical that we would plan a route that would take us past both these destinations. Having fallen in love with the wines, and especially the grape juice, produced at the vineyards just outside Jacobsdal, we decided to buy a couple of bottles to take on our trip. This is always a good idea when you plan to visit friends and family.

Kambro Padstal with excellent homemade food 

Kambro Farm Stall 

Kaiïngs and homemade bread 

Janneman took a great liking to the homemade chutney

From Jacobsdal, we stopped by the Kambro Padstal/Farm Stall where we had kaiïngs on homebaked bread and freshly brewed coffee. We also bought delicious homemade ginger beer. We stopped by here again on our way back and repeated the same dishes. This is a really good indication that the food here is excellent! You also should make a point of trying the homemade pies! Brilliant!

My room in De Aar was a toddler's domain

De Aar 

De Aar 

De Aar 

Springbok being skinned and butchered in De Aar

Having fueled ourselves up, we set off again towards De Aar, a route that took us past Ritchie, through Hopetown and Strydenburg, and finally to Britstown. At Britstown we turned left towards De Aar.

En route to Victoria West 

 En route to Victoria West

 En route to Victoria West

The first of the Namaqualand daisies making their appearance 

En route to Victoria West

In De Aar I met L's family and was very privileged to be allowed to sleep in the four-year old's room. One should never underestimate the sacrifice a toddler makes when giving up their room, and always show one's appreciation. The room was lovely indeed! My genuine liking of the room was appreciated and I immediately made a fast friend in the usual occupant. The friendship was cemented when I made time for her the next day which we put to good use by drawing and painting some zebra from the book I was busy illustrating.

Sunrise in Camp Nguni 

Loxton embrace 

Street leading into Loxton

Aside from the obvious fun that is to be derived from spending time with children, and getting to see the world through their eyes, De Aar itself had an amazing array of places to see and visit. The ladies, 3 adults and one toddler, along with Janneman, the Capuchin monkey, set off in the morning to paint the town red. A morning is not enough time to spend in De Aar. Do not let the remoteness of the town fool you into thinking that it doesn't have anything to offer. There were coffee houses, tea gardens and restaurants to pick and choose from. Then we got to the craft stores and boutique shops. By the time we were done in, we had not even visited half the places we would have liked to have seen. What a pleasant little big town to visit.

Die Rooi Granaat Coffee Shop in Loxton 

The church in Loxton 

Outside Die Rooi Granaat in Loxton

On Sunday morning, most of the house was sleeping in or making a slow start. I decided to explore the town on foot, this time taking my camera along. Pretty, clean and well kept, are the words that come to mind when I think of De Aar. Then I passed a house where two men were unloading Springbok carcasses. I asked permission to take their photo, and was granted it, after explaining to them that this common occurrence in De Aar, is a most uncommon one in the city, where I hailed from.

Outside Victoria West 

 Outside Victoria West

Outside Victoria West 

Outside Victoria West

We set off a little later towards Victoria West and took our time driving through the streets of this town. One could almost imagine the town being caught in a time capsule, although that would not be entirely fair. There are signs of evident progress in Victoria West, but at the same time, the older buildings have been maintained and preserved so well, that it stands proud next to its more modern counterparts. We spent the night at Camp Nguni, not too far out of town and was off early the next morning.


Looking back on Carnarvon

L made a special point of showing me Loxton after learning of my fascination with the town. I was enthralled. We leisurely drove up and down the quiet streets, forgetting that it was supposed to be a busy Monday morning, and continuously catching ourselves talking about it being a quiet Sunday. I have never come across a town more serene than Loxton on a Monday morning. We stopped by the Rooi Granaat Coffee Shop and spent quite some time there, without running into any other patrons. The coffee was good, the food great and the service excellent. What impressed both L and me most, however, was the language in which we were served. Both of us are mother tongue Afrikaans speakers, and so was our waiter. However, the man's linguistic abilities put ours to shame. This was the most pure and precise that I had ever heard Afrikaans spoken! Impressive indeed!





From Loxton, we drove through Carnarvon, then through Vosburg. We then headed back through Britstown, Strydenburg and Hopetown. Finally we were back in Jacobsdal. We then made a point of stopping at Magersfontein, before finally heading back to the farm. Magersfontein is the site for one of the main battles of the Anglo Boer war, now renamed the South African War. Today, a large monument spreads out over the site. Each of the small towns on our route, held a fascination all their own, and in each we made a point of stopping, or simply driving through the town itself. Do yourself a favor and take it slow the next time you travel through the Northern Cape. The towns are simply enchanting and the people tend to greet you as if you were long lost family. Stay, chat, get to know something about the town and its people. It will be time well spent.




Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy my books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
You can follow Miekie's daily Bible Study blog, Bybel Legkaart, here in English & Afrikaans.
You may prefer to follow the traveling blog, A Pretty Tourist.
For more crafty ideas and great products, visit A Pretty Talent on Facebook.
Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
You can subscribe to any of these blogs to receive regular updates by email, by simply registering your email address at the top of the applicable blog.