Sunday, July 31, 2011

Altered landscapes

I have long admired the evocative works of American photographer John Pfahl.

It's hard to believe that these first three images are part of an exhibition of his work which took place in the 70's.

They observe so delicately the often tenuous intersection between the natural world and the incursions of man.

This later series which have the poetic sentiment of early British landscape artists, examines the ironic presence of power plants which must needs be locate themselves in areas of the most beautiful wilderness.

His Romanticized images underscore so powerfully the sinister way in which man's domination over the natural world has insinuated itself into the landscape.

xxx elle

Making an entrance

I always think that making a first impression is a very good idea.

That there is nothing quite as lovely, as a charming front door that invites you in and makes you yearn to see more.

 There is something sacred I suppose, about a front door.

It is like a friendly smile, or a warm 'hello'.

That is why we showed our joiner so many wonderful pictures of the new front door we wanted for the cottage.

Along with an endless sentimental story about the cottage we loved and wanted to preserve.

And then the doors began to arrive,,,

They bare no resemblance to the photos and pictures we used as reference!

Bless these doors and all who enter through them.

xxx elle

Windyridge, may you bloom and grow

On the Monday morning Rustic Homes moved in, and began to build the new improved version of Windyridge..

Two days later, on Wednesday afternoon Mr Nielson and I arrived to survey what appeared to be the new ground floor.

It was extraordinary to be able to walk from 'room to room', along a pathway we had navigated in our imaginations for so many months.

Everywhere we looked there were men at work, labouring on our behalf to create the home we had long been dreaming of...

Mr Nielson and I were like two children, overwhelmed with excitement and wonder...

Over the weeks as the house has progressed, each visit has been made with a sense of the keenest gratitude.

Slowly, the 'new' begins to connect to the 'old'. in what we hoped was a seamless synergy.

On their very first day at work, the men built this room to act as their headquarters and kitchen!

The new doors and windows arrived, and set us on a painful journey in which we mourned our lovely old cottage, and learnt to accept that the outsourced joiner had completely reinterpreted our very specific brief!

But that is another story.

In the meantime, we await with joy and anticipation, a glorious new summer at the new Windyridge.


Farewell to Windy Ridge

Our little holiday cottage was built at the turn of the last century and used as a ration store during the Boer War.

Built on a gentle slope with all about the sea, Mr. Nielson and I fell in love at once with its higgledy piggledy charm.

We first saw it on a perfect, windless day and we never quite got the accuracy of its name, until we spent our first summer there. We lay wide eyed in bed, as the dreaded South Easter wind made itself known to us against the cottage walls.

In the lounge. paintings gently flapped gainst the South wall!

We loved its humble clapboard facade.

Its unsophisticated construction seemed to us a kind of happy innocence, that made it 'almost alright' to own a second home in a country where so many are homeless.

And for the children it was paradise.

A safe haven in which to explore and bloom under holiday skies.

Of course, in time the little cottage began to burst at the seams with visitors wanting to spend the night, after a long lazy day cocooned in its sweet embrace.

And so, plans began to take shape around the dinner table, in exercise books, on scraps of paper, and in the mind's eye, of a cottage ready to grow up.

Finally, after years of dreaming, along with the terrible knowledge that once tampered with our little house, (with all its memories and all the echoes of the life we have lived) would never be the same, is being transformed...

Fare thee well darling Windyridge...

xxx elle

Anthropological delights

I am always bemoaning the way in which globalization has taken the fun out of shopping abroad.

With each new chain that makes its way to our shores, we lose the heady anticipation of walking into Zara, Mango, Accessorize, Body Shop, etc on our travels. And all the Main strips, whether they are in Istanbul, Athens or Tel Aviv take on an homogenous hue.

But now...

This Bokkie bench has caught my covetous eye. O to see it wink at me from the entrance hall at Boulders.

Come back Anthropologie, all is forgiven!

xxx elle

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sarah was here.

If you're very lucky, you get to travel up the mountain side in Scarborough, until you find yourself at Sarah's door.

Once inside, you find yourself inhabiting a space that feels somehow suffuced with the spiritual and sublime.

The series of small timber clad dwellings seem to form a sacred community, acting as refuge for weary wayfares from the big city.

And all about is the craggy mountainside that tumbles down, down, down to the Atlantic ocean.

At a moments notice some innate sense has Sarah or Clive sliding closed doors and windows, even before the first alpha male baboon makes his presense known!

Clive roasts and prepares his own spices for a noon day feast, and then we eat.

To break bread with Sarah, to share her many blessings made over food, friends and life is to feel inspired by a timeless wisdom.

Here is where Sarah bathes in sunlight amongst the many boulders, around which the house was built.

And here, a shower given natural privacy by rock and bush has a view that traverses land, sea and sky.

When you leave this airy sanctuary, it is with a longing to return...

xxx elle

Goodbye Amy and why I love Russel Brand...

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. The sincere hope, is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you that they've had enough, that they're ready to stop, ready to try something new.Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative, telling you it's too late, she's gone.

Frustratingly, it's not a call you can ever make, it must be received. It is impossible to intervene...

...As I made my way to the audience through the plastic smiles and plastic cups, I heard the rolling wonderful resonance of a female vocal. Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; And then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius.From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness. A voice that was filled with such power and pain, that it was at once entirely human, yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse! That twerp, all eyeliner and lager, dithering up Chalk Farm road under a back combed barnet, the lips that I'd only seen clenching a fishwife fag, and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound. So now I knew. She wasn't just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes. She was a fucking genius.

Shallow fool that I am, I now regarded her in a different light, the light that blazed down from heaven when she sang. That lit her up now and a new phase in our friendship began. She came on a few of my radio and tv shows, I still saw her about but now attended to her with a little more interest.Publicly though, Amy increasingly became defined by her addiction. Our media though is more interested in tragedy then talent, so the ink began to defect from praising her gift, to chroniciling her downfall...In the public perception this ephemeral tittle-tattle replaced her timeless talent. This and her manner in our occasional meetings brought home to me the severity of her condition.Addiction is a serious disease, it will end with jail, mental institutions or death...

Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticized, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy's incredible talent. Or Kurt's, or Jimi's or Janis's, some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we see this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill. We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care.

We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation. It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict then to send them to prison, so criminalisation doesn't even make economic sense. Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone, and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call.

Russel Brand  July 2011

xxx elle

That boy. This girl. The dance!

What is it about this timeless rite of passage that is so evocative?

Even now, in an age in which  a 'night out on the town' is almost commonplace, there remains a sense of excitement and possibilty about 'prom night' that keeps it compelling.

And so here Steele is, holding Melody the girl of his dreams!

My girls made do with fabric bought on the main street, sewn together by Mrs Naidoo in Station road!

But for the boy... Hilton Wiener, Aldo and of course, the Benjamin Nivison jacket that everyone coveted.

My last 'matric dance'...with a bang not a whimper!

xxx elle