Please meet my new friend, Sheila Nichols of South Africa. Sheila is a mosaic artist whom I found on the internet. I asked if I could come to visit when I was in Durban. She said sure and so with the help of Ruth Ann and her zippy little white car we drove on the "wrong" side of the road out to a beautiful area and Sheila's home and studio. Must say I am so grateful for Ruth Ann's ability to drive like the British or rather, Africans.
Sheila has a beautiful home in an old and wooded setting next to homes that have been in the family for many years. It is truly an artists dream home. The center of her home is her studio which welcomes students to create in a beautiful nurturing environment with her master tutorage.
It was fun to walk through her garden and home listening to how she made this and that and how she would tell us, "well I would get started on that project, but I just can not seem to finish" or "I bought many of those to mosaic and I only made one" or "I am not a good business person, I do not know how to market that". Typical words for all of us artists....the creative flow has a mind of its own and we can not control it. We get inspired and we are sure we will make 10 of them "and then I can sell them!" And you know what? The pieces sit in the box while you move on to the next thing....Typical, typical..... And if we can stop expecting anything different than this we are happy with the flow as you go......so I felt her to be a kindred spirit.
Going outside of the city of Durban showed me a different view of living here. Being in Sheila's home I felt more comfortable and familiar. Even though there were still all of the gated homes and security measures there were trees, outside living and space to breathe. It was a relief to me. After this visit we went to "have tea" with friends of Ruth Ann's not far down the road. I was very excited to see another home of "whites". It has become so clear to me the great differences in being black and white in this society. It is very pronounced. Remember the end of apartheid was only 20 years ago and the divisions and differences between the groups of people who live here are still pronounced.
Two of the ladies has recently taken a mosaic class which lead us to one more mosaic stop......
Then we were off to touch the other side.....the piece of this puzzle that is so different than this one with educated, refined tea drinking lovely ladies.....the side where the HIV and AIDS resides. Ruth Ann took me to a place that helps women with HIV and AIDS through selling their crafts. I bought a few of their beaded crafts and could feel how different this slice of South African life is.
Standing at the entrance of this center is a tree that is colorfully dressed with a crocheted jacket covering its bark and climbing its limbs. Beautiful. The women came together to learn to crochet and make squares to add to this tree afgan as a fundraiser for the center. People sponsored yarn squares and tree limbs to raise needed funds. This is called "yarn bombing" and it is becoming popular around the world. I have seen it in Livermore and it is such a surprising sight to see when you have the treat to visit a tree dressed in this way.......