Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Still enjoying South African memories

Workshops in Grahamstown and then in Durban Botanical Gardens and down in Cape Town (for VANSA: Visual arts network of South Africa) have been exciting and challenging. I always arrive wondering  what I can offer people living in such a different country so far from all my landscape points of reference but then we get started, relax and I am reminded that everywhere people appreciate the chance to let their imaginations run around, to play with ideas around stories and that little handmade, home-made books are an enchantment and a delight. And working here, it was good to be told by children from township schools that "We could make a book like this at home. Look you've used one-sided paper(*) and I could make a cover from a cereal packet"

Durban BG is a beauty! Neat and precise in its city-centre setting but holding some stunning trees - huge, buttress- and aerial- rooted figs. It is free and is used by everyone, it seems: lovely to see people having picnics, pausing in their busy days, chatting to friends. And where I'd see people feeding the ducks here in UK, to watch a mother and her little girl feeding the spoonbills and sacred ibis was just wonderful

In Cape Town, I was taken to the new Biodiversity Garden, growing in the shadow on the world cup stadium there. Another place of wonder and enchantment (the Garden, I can't speak for the Stadium). A fascinating instant tour of the wonders of the Cape where there is more floral variety in a few hundred square miles than I'd meet walking right along the length of UK. Well presented and again well-used. Eavesdropping on visitors had me hungering for a notebook project, inviting people to record their memories of flowers and the uses of plants. Sessions here organised by my friend Wendy who runs her own environmental education company, Ecoactivities

* that confused me too: paper that has been printed on one side

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