Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thanks for that Andy

Simply Beautiful.

Celebrations are made all the more beautiful when they are created with a sense of balance and harmony.

And despite my appreciation of all things luxe and lavish, I have an especial admiration for that which is crafted with restraint.

In a country like South Africa where there is a chasm in society between the wealthy and poor, excess has a way of contaminating things, a reality which is often lost on those expressing that opulance.

So this glorious celebration scene styled by Lo Bjurnuf for Ikea carries with it a resonance of that sensitivity.

In its gentle simplicity lies the perfect space to be happy, and animate the memory beyond the setting.

xxx elle

Play it again Sam...

Sam Nhlengethwa is one of my favorite South African artists.

And although his powerful mixed media originals are beyond the average budget, his prints available through The Artist's Press are somewhat more accessible.

In his Jazz series, Sam pays tribute to some of the great Jazz artists who have influenced his life. Thelonius Monk, Ron Carter and Nina Simone all get the nod through his dramatic lithographs.

Not forgetting Sammy Davis Junior and the rest of the boys!
Sam also honours some of his most admired fellow South African artists, in his Tribute series, in which the likes of William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas find themselves on the 'walls' of one of Sam's artfully imagined 'rooms'.

xxx elle


.It's strange.

Despite my inherent hypochondria, I am always reluctant to pay a visit to the doctor.

This, in spite of the fact that I have a not very secret yearning to be one.

It is also why (to the chagrain of my daughter Skye), I insist on dropping into every possible conversation the fact that she is one of these learned professionals.

Every suspect ache and pain, seems to me a sign of imminent doom, and since a visit to the doctor may confirm the awful suspicion, they are best avoided.

Instead, once a lengthy period of time has lapsed, I can feel comforted by the belief that the insistent ache is nothing sinister after all, or less comfortably, become even more frightened at the thought that it is now too late to heal!

And so, suitably alarmed by the knowledge that a close friend's early diagnosis led to a very thankful outcome, and at her behest, I took myself off for a mamogram this week!

Nothing could have prepared me for the traumatic assault.

Joanne, the radiographer seemed intent on reducing my much admired cleavage to a pan caked version of its former self.
The evil contraption used to achieve this goal, seemed to be a relic from a medieval chamber of horrors.
Naturally I was quick to voice my contempt for the mechanised weapon, and shrieked with panic at Joanne everytime she operated its vicelike grip on my chests.

My rather generous breasts have ably nourished my four children, and still managed to survive this with some rather admirable bouyancy intact, but all that may well have been undone by the relentlessly squashing mamogram.

Later, as Dr Bell perused the landscape of my breasts on the ultrasound machine, and having assured me of their perfect health, I asked Joanne if I had been really badly behaved.

'Can I be honest?' she asked with an air of resignation, and before I could answer, 'You were the worst I've ever had!'

I still feel traumatised.

And I suspect that if it was a man's appendages being so mercilesslysqueezed, they'd have come up with a kinder alternative already!

xxx elle

Sacred geometry

Funny, how even the most everyday things can offer us little messages just when we need them. so that we can discover even in a humble bowl of pasta, secrets to the meaning of life!

When Mr Nielson better known as Sid. and I were very young we spent a lot of time searching for that elusive meaning of life secret thing!

We had time, in between idling about on Wits Campus to look for it in every nook and cranny.

We loved nothing better then pondering about it every chance we got, and because we were young and of course, knew everything, it seemed like something we could take home and file along with our degrees, ( ok Rob, my unfinished degree) on a shelf marked 'Everything you ever wanted to know about the meaning of life but were too afraid to ask.'

Mr Nielson and I found ourselves a 'perfect living Master', we became vegetarians, wore cheesecloth and wished everyone Rhada Swami before swanning off to India to sit at the Master's perfect feet!
By now we were initiated into the path, and we tried to spend at least ten percent of our day, preferably at the time of elixer doing our meditation.
Our mantra was made up of the names of the lords of the 'inner regions'. Regions which we could in time expect to traverse, with guidance from the Master himself!
These five 'holy' names were repeated in a kind of cosmic inner spiral that echoed the very constrution of the universe itself.

I thought of that spiral today as I prepared a bowl of pasta, watching as the whirls of plumped gluten absorbed flavour and richness. For of course, the secrets of life are meant to elude us but as we nurture with love those around us, we can catch a glimpse of it in the sacred geometry of the universe.
Fractals, the extraordinary perfection of nature's design is a constant reminder of the order around us, even in seeming chaos.
It is the breath of time passing, the rise and fall; the shadow and light that is all of life.

So although Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I no longer practise repeating that spiral of holy words, we honour the spiral of those who come and go from the 'perfect living Master's' path. We honour life itself and the spiral of life, and after life that is this creation.

And that is why during this week, as loved one's sought to overcome adversity, to rise above the vagaries of the body and to find peace and healing, a bowl of pasta is a little whisper from the Divine...

xxx elle

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fridays with Erna

Erna and I met when she found me outside one morning gazing with admiration at her newly built house.

It has that lovely French Countryside sensibility that I so enjoy, and was designed by her very clever architect, husband Dennis Maas.

He is also responsible for the very charming interiors.

But that was then.

This is now......

Erna is steeped in kindness generally, and has a very special love for animals.
Quite inadvertently, Erna has found herself at the helm of a small animal rescue concern, that operates mostly out on the Cape Flats catering to the poorest communities.

When Erna can't find a home for one of her lovely hounds, she brings them back to her own and they very quickly become part of the family.

Their coats shine.

Their eyes sparkle.

And they follow Erna around like a small flock of adoring sheep, each taking turns to sit on her lap like a favourite child!

In time the 'Rescue' unit has become quite a full time pursuit, and to this end on the last Friday of every month, Erna concocts a delicious 'charitea', catering to all manner of strange dietary requirement on the part of her non-canine admirers.

We get to sit around on her sunny patio, and enjoy her delicious home bakes whilst supporting her very admirable cause.

If you find yourself in Kenilworth one month end Friday, please join us.

Everyone is welcome!

xxx elle