Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Starting To Put The Pieces Together

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.

When we arrived at their home the ladies were celebrating the royal baby born this morning. They were excited and toasting with champagne. On the table were pots of hot water and tea, and cakes. Lovely. I was introduced and it was fun to meet these warm women with strong British accents and ties. The home was in another beautiful country setting and was charming. I also found it to be so terribly charming that they all seemed to love facebook. They all wanted to become friends on FB and we exchanged names and ways to get in touch. They were very interested in the World Transplant Games and some had read about it in the paper. Anna, you have a cheering section now here waiting for your arrival.

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.......

Next on up the road still in the wealthier part of town we had lunch at at cafe that over looks the 1000 Hills. This is an area where many of the blacks live in government housing. Ruth Ann took me for a short ride into this area so that I could see where they lived and how different this life style was. She has promised me a closer look tomorrow. So now I am beginning to put the pieces together of what life is like here in South Africa....so very different than at home.


  1. Just read your whole blog, very interesting to see my home country from your point of view! Will definitely meet you at the WTG, am a friend of Anna's!

    1. Thanks Alice....so looking forward to meeting you. It will be a very exciting week. Interesting and very different to be here. Can not wait to see some animals. See you very soon and good luck to you in all your competitions...I know Anna is so excited to see you in person.


  2. Very beautiful Mosaic you have created. I am speechless after seeing this amazing mosaics.
    mosaic south africa