One cannot truly understand the purpose of certain events in ones life when one is very young. It is only when one is older that the pieces begin to fit together and one is enriched with better understanding as to the why and wherefore of things.
I never could understand why I found myself in so many silent places. These intense moments of prolonged silence and isolation gave birth to my greatest passion in life. Those who know me think that the Art of Dance is everything to me…..it is a great and integral part of my life. It must be after 45 years of dedicated teaching. But while Dance brought me much happiness it brought me much pain and worst of all student betrayal and ultimate rejection of what I was capable of offering to the aspirant dancer. This is all a story on its own.
When did the ability and the passion for Art manifest itself? My memory goes way back to my years in the Covent School of st Mary’s. I showed no talent that any of the astute nuns could see. In high school a wonderful subject came my way and also a teacher who taught with her heart and not her habit. People imagine nuns to be without flaw…..but they aren’t. Underneath those Habits are women who are kind, compassionate, dedicated, mean, gossipy and above all, if from Ireland or England, fiercely prejudiced against children of a certain class. We had a subject which was in those days termed ‘Bantu Studies’. Never was anything so wonderful for me to learn….never was I so involved in studying for three years the culture of others. Then came the assignment. I remember telling my mother I needed to do something really splendid…and true to form she said the library would be the first place to start. I found a magnificent book of illustrations of the ethnic peoples of Africa. I would make a set of four drawings….yes that was it…..a set of four. I had never had an art lesson in my life and I was fifteen years old. I didn’t know a charcoal pencil from an HB6…..I remember sitting in my room and wondering how I would do this. The thought process made me tired and I drifted in and out of thought as fifteen year olds do. I went to ballet class and heard the same corrections and the same word play I listened to each week from a teacher I was slowly beginning to loose my affection for. I came home….and started the first one…of a sangoma. True I copied from the book….it was the most thrilling moment of my young life. When the time came to hand everything in…..I was so proud….I waited for the comment (surely it would be good)…..It wasn’t…my honesty was in question and Mother Isabella was brought into the situation. I was cross questioned….was this my work?….who helped me?……the crack art student in the school who also happened to be a friend was consulted….this was not my work, she in her wisdom concluded. It was one of the first irrational episodes of my life. I later learned that my four drawings was given to a German visitor who admired them when visiting the school to take with him as an example of the indigenous people of the country. That’s how my love for colour, paint, and all artwork started. I cannot catch movement of the Dance and show it to anyone tomorrow (unless I video)….movement is lost in the moment of time.. If I draw a single line across a white page and die tonight……that line will prove I have lived. My art for me is proof that I was here.….it is the singular talent that is truly my own…..it is the singular factor that holds my soul together in the worst and best of times. That and the words of the poems.
These were amongst my favourite paintings that I worked long hours through. Girl with the Pearl earring I no longer have…neither Irises or the roses or the agapanther painting. I often wonder on which walls they are now hanging.