Saturday, 08 September 2007

At Last -Selection Day has dawned!

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Today is that day which comes around once a year and strikes trembling in the bones of certain artists in Cape Town. It has dawned - the day which some of us have been working our butts off for the past few months, agonising over subject choice, colour, medium, support, frame, oil or acrylic, watercolor or mixed media. Last night those of us who paint in oils have probably wasted half of our monthly electricity account trying frantically to dry our oils as- NO WET OILS WILL BE ACCEPTED!
It is the South African Society of Artist's Selection Day. Every member (there are about 500 ) is allowed to submit 3 paintings. I could hardly sleep last night wondering who the judges were going to be, whether my somewhat eccentric art would be liked, how I would react if I got all 3 accepted, how I would react if I got 0 accepted. I wanted to get there well before the specified opening time - 9am for those with surnames A-M. As I hurriedly swallowed my muesli I realised that I had not pasted my name and painting details on the back of my 3 paintings! Panic as I tried to locate the glue - in my family things like glue, erasers and pens have legs - they see me coming and scuttle into their special little hiding places designed to create heart-palpitations and anxiety attacks. I finally found some cold glue, using a braai fork to prize through the congealed mess at the top of the funnel and squeezed some onto the back of the postage-stamp size label supplied by the Society. Of course it spread all over the label and half the kitchen table. Briefly wondering whether cold glue was acid free or not - if not it was too late anyway - the stuff was already seeping into the back of the painting by now - I scraped off the rest with my finger, wiped the residue on my new slacks (oops, too late!) and then realised I still hadn't found a suitable title for one of the paintings.
Yesterday I phoned my husband, rudely interrupted his meeting on Nuclear energy and greeted him with no preamble: " A river is like a road" - there was a brief stunned silence and then he said slowly (and, I imagined with a slight rolling of the eyes) and with just the merest trace of patronage, "mmmm, yes, that has quite a good ring to it.." I knew that was fine. I rang off, thought about the other painting which was about ballooning and river cruising in the Overberg (slightly fantastic idea, but not impossible...) I just couldn't get a title. After about 5 minutes I rang him back : " Go with the flow". Again a small silence. If he had been a pipe -smoker I would have heard a little "phhpp" of the lips ........."...not as good as the first one, but not bad.." it would have to do.
I filled in the rest of the forms, reminding myself to get R20 selection fee.
Then, I put the paintings out of my mind and got on with the rest of the household chores, which mainly involved dodging flying plaster when walking past the bathroom which is being rebuilt. The builders are on the last stages of plastering the walls - they should really have finished already but we had a rainy week last week which put us back. The plumber told me I would have to grow about 30 centimeters if I was going to have a bathroom cabinet the size I had in mind which was 85 cms from floor level. I secretly thought - maybe for you, you little dwarf but I'm a lot taller than you. He proceeded to argue his point in that peculiar way plumbers have of putting their point over in as technical a way as possible in order to confuse those who have no interest in what pipes are made of or how long they have to be. (I call taps,"taps"- not "stop-cocks" for heavens' sake!
Stifling a yawn, I listened as he explained, a bit rudely I thought, that as my basin was going to sit on top of the pedestal and not be sunken in, the lip of it would protrude too high up to make washing one's face comfortable. I watched in horror as he grabbed a plastic bowl from my kitchen sink which I was filling with vegetable waste ( I am a home-compost-maker and enviro-freak) and demonstrated. He then thrust the bowl at me. Realising that plumbers are to be humoured at all costs if one doesn't want ones carpets accidentally-on-purpose flooded, I suffered the indignity of trying not to "splash" rotting vegetable waste over my face. Sheepfaced and suitable chastened I had to admit he was right for a shortarse. (I didn't say that part aloud)
Now I was faced with the trauma of relaying this dramatic piece of evidence to my husband. Why today? Today I am supposed to be meditating, relaxing in a spa, having my hair done while scores of handmaidens tailor my nails and feet....aaah alas it was not to be and then I realised my son was coming home for Varsity vac that afternoon, would probably be exhausted and hungry, my other son was having a friend to sleep-over and I had no food in the fridge.
Just another ordinary day.
Well, we got pizza, watched in shock while France got slagged by Argentina, saw South Africa's chances of winning the world cup going ever more pear-shaped and went to bed.
The next morning-still no title for the 3rd painting. It suddenly came on the last swallow of muesli-"Let the Games begin!" What with the Rugby World cup starting, the Cape Town Stadium Big Guns arriving to assess the progress on the Greenpoint stadium, it seemed suddenly and singularly appropriate. Of course if the selectors (of the paintings not the Rugby teams!) were 90-year-old women with an interest in macrame and Baumalerei I had no chance in hell!
The drama of selection day did not end at the Church Hall either. I got there early, was surprised to find no queue, walked straight in and was out in 10 minutes. I then cheerily hummed my way into Long street where I visited my favourite bead store and then whizzed back home. When I got home I realised that I had left my carrier bag which I used to carry my paintings back at the Church somewhere outside the entrance. With my heart in my mouth I zoomed back to the Church, was relieved to find the bag still sitting on the patio, cellphone and purse with 300 credit cards still intact. Now I'm back home., looking forward to watching Australia play Japan. Should be fun!
The judges are busy choosing my 3 paintings as I write this. If they don't I will personally bring them home and make them try washing their faces in my vegetable bowl...

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