Sunday, 16 September 2007

Karoo Landscapes and Rockscapes

Karoo Landscapes and Rockscapes

Red Hill farm Karoo road


These are oil paintings of the Karoo - a beautiful area in the heart of my homeland, South Africa. On a trip to Graaff Reinet, we stopped at a farm outside Oudtshoorn called "Red Hill Farm" which nestles in the eonite hills. I was inspired and spent a very interesting morning with my canvas anchored to the dusty road with rocks while I tried to capture the light falling on the wheat fields below. I felt like Monet must have felt when he set up his canvases in his garden! Cars passing by threw up dust from the dirt road onto the surface of my canvas - I left it there - it felt good, more authentic somehow.

The area around Graaff Reinet is a fascinating semi-desert region of the Karoo. To get there from the South, one drives through the Plains of Camdeboo which are sprinkled with aloe and cactuses and broken windmills - it has a strange eerie atmosphere. Graaff Reinet is a small town rich with history and ghosts! It boasts around 230 National monuments, the beautifully restored, early Victorian period Hotel, the Drostdy Hotel, some wonderful museums notably the Drostdy museum, and Art Galleries. I particularly liked the Pierneef museum, which houses some of the finest Pierneef oils.

The Dutch Reformed church which dominates the town square has one of the oldest, largest organs in the country.

The long main Boulevard evokes memories of a bygone age with its rows of tall cypresses.

Just an hour's drive to the North takes one to Nieu Bethesda, a quaint country village, home to the renowned South African artist, Helen Martins, creator of the "Owl House", whose garden is full of the amazing cement sculptures of life-like figures, created with the help of a local sculptor.

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