Saturday, March 27, 2010

The re-invention of Miranda

I daresay I had fun at the hairdressers the other day. Yes yes, I know I'm supposed to hate it and all but, boy it was just what needed. The baby gal had been yelling for a couple of days straight - teeth and all that. And I needed. To. Get! Out! Fast! So I did. The lovely hairdresser said 'Do you still want to be able to tie your hair back or are you over that?"
"Over that"
"How do you feel about a fringe? Bangs?"
She started to gently chop.
"What are you doing?" I said, "I thought we were going short?"
"Well, I'm just being cautious"
"FUCK cautious"
And this the result.
I love it.

And I even got a manicure and a pedicure and everything. The manicure was a bit of a waste of time since I had to get on the motorbike immediately after and smudged all the paint stuff off. But it was the massage-y bit I was after really.

And then. And THEN. We went to Mitumba. Retail therapy - if not entirely original - makes my heart sing. Cheery Country and Western songs. I've written about Mitumba before a couple of times. Its the second hand clothes place. Huge area piled with gorgeous delightful second hand clothes. We went on a Tuesday when they got new bales in and bought loads of new things. hurrah!

So a bit of girly time and I can handle all the screaming my baby gal wishes to throw at me. Within reason, of course! She's stopped though so thats a good thing...

Picture Window

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Last Installment

Okay, I'm milking this for all its worth - easy blog posts these! Last installment on my mother's exhibition.

Coz after this I need to tell you about my new haircut!

Okay, this is going to be a big old photo-ey blog. Coz I found it so hard to choose which pictures to show ya'll.

Its hard to get an idea, but these are all big.

Ghost Elephant - Trade Routes

And here, some of the blurbs that I so diligently printed and put up about the place!

"Pam Guhrs-Carr was born in Malawi and raised in Zambia, in one of Africa’s prolific wildlife areas, the Luangwa Valley where her father Norman Carr was Game Warden and later a well known conservationist. She grew up with an intimate knowledge of the wildlife in the area. Living in Lungwa’s wilderness environment has formed her work on multiple levels as she draws on its history, indigenous cultures and biodiversity. Her work challenges hackneyed perceptions of animals in Africa. From western eyes that visit zoos and game reserves to local perceptions of animals as intrinsically linked to ancestors, she revisions the metaphorsthat bind humans and animas.

The black and white images in this exhibition are inspired by her research of the rock paintings of eastern Zambia and their relation to contemporary women’s initiation practices in Luangwa Valley.

She has exhibited her work in Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, the States and London. Her work is represented in museums and collections internationally and has been auctioned by Christies in London. "

Softly Treads the Forest Floor
"The aadvark softly treads the forest floor, making music with its feet" Pablo Neruda

“I am interested in the different cultural perceptions of nature and people’s place in it… the shifting boundaries between animals and humans represented in indigenous knowledge systems… Animals often become metaphors for universal concerns – cycles of life, birth, death etc. or are used in a shamanistic way, as a conduit to a different state of consciousness”

Lunar Births

Bedroom Window, 3am

During her research into women’s initiation in eastern Zambia for her MA Fine Art, Guhrs discovered that the images the women were using to teach the girls were the same as some of the rock paintings in Zambia. Although simple and abstract, some of these symbols contain a depth of concept.

The sun image relates to the male element and the moon is female. Stories and dances and songs illustrate the philosophy of opposing yet related elements, male/female, spiritual/material, culture/nature.

Her paintings of these tar and lime images are a result of her immersion in some of the language of pictograms, cyphers, signs and symbols at the core of Kunda thought. She absorbs concepts and images repeating them again and again almost in mantra mode, internalising a lexicon.

Women's Symbols, Men's images

And detail of one of the panels:

The elemental materials such as tar and lime, both subject to chemical changes, used in Guhrs’ paintings reflect concepts of transformation and regeneration and also the repetition inherent the initiation teachings.

Leaping Leopard

Since the 1800s Europeans in Central Africa have reported an association between lions and the spirits of deceased chiefs. In 1832 Gamitto, a Portuguese explorer in the Luangwa Valley noticed the Africans there being able to chase lions away from the animals they had killed and take the meat for themselves. Local Africans explained this was possible because the lions were really benevolent chief’s spirits.

“The person that the spirit lion comes to is made to feel sick until the job is completed…If the person does the bidding of the spirit lion he or she usually feels well again and acquires a special skill, such as knowledge of medicines or healing.” (Strickland)

Spirit Lion

Okay, enough already. For more info visit her website

Sunday, March 21, 2010


More from my mother. These are also small. Same size as the ones I posted yesterday. They're called "Encounters"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Funky Landscapes

So Tam said to put up pictures of the funky landscapes. From our mother's exhibition. They're little, about 50cm x 50cm. And so cool, I love them.

This one is called Into the Trees

Flying Fish

Trade Routes

Add my fave, Orb Rising.
Surprisingly, unsold


The flying fish with written wings

The orb

Angels dancing on pinheads

Hey, this is fun. Next post - "Encounters"

Picture window, after the rain

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Day of the Red Stickers

The day started out as one of those tread in dog poo days. Metaphorically and physically. What comes first, the bad mood or the treading in the dog poo? You're in a bad mood therefore you tread in dog poo (negative attracting negative and all that) or you tread in dog poo therefore you're in a bad mood?

It started as a tread in dog poo day and ended as the day of the red stickers.

It was the opening of my mother's exhibition last night. She drove up from Zambia with all her paintings stuffed in the back of her "you're-going-to-manage-to-drive-more-than-a-thousand-kilometres-in-THAT?" old car. So it was all go go go yesterday, Printing labels. last minute hanging, nails in the walls, oops, haven't signed that one, let me get my paint. That kinda thing. And I was running around and the baby was Pissed Off but the lovely ladies at the internet cafe took her while I printed and laminated and cut up labels and price tags. Oh and I trod in dog poo, did I mention that?

Anyway, that was the morning. By late afternoon we were all done and the tone was set by someone who came early and bought a painting. A Spirit Lion - the very one pictured above. And then opening time - 5 o'clock and there's that moment where everything seems to hang in the balance. Will anyone come? Will they buy? Did we over-cater? Under-cater? Will I be able to at least cover my costs? And then one by one people trickled and then gushed in. And the wine flowed and the people drank and bought bought bought. Red stickers everywhere. My mother is a hide-in-the-corner-don't-pay-any-attention-to-me kind of person. And she always feels very uncomfortable when she has a show and everyone looks at her art on the walls. We usually have to save her from herself as on more than one occasion she has persuaded people NOT to buy her work.

Customer: Ooh I like this hyena, I think I'll buy it for my husband
Mother: Well, I'm not so sure. People sometimes find hyenas and paintings like this very threatening
Customer: Oh, okay

Remember those posts a while back saying why I'll never be rich? These are my genes.

Anyway, it was a success. People bought and she could have sold a few of them five times over. It's still on for a few days so I shall go and take more pictures for ya'll.

Picture Window

Look at those cloud waves!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Don't be alarmed...

... these pictures are old

This is where my heart lives

My mother and her man are here visiting. And they bring tales of home that make me ache with longing. It took them three and a half days to drive up from Zambia. The same trip that we did two years ago, all our belongings wrapped up in a spotted red handkerchief tied to a stick like one of the three little pigs. Two of the three little pigs.

This is the time of year - at home - that the river rises and breaks her banks. And our houses, perched precariously on the edge of the oxbow lagoon stare wide eyed as the water rises. And rises.

And rises.

And our green, puku and impala studded view fills up with brown water and nile cabbage complete with glinting eyed crocodiles and lazy yawning hippos. And our houses shrink back and curl their toes up as the water laps at their feet. Nothing unusual there.

In 2006 though, it rained. And kept on raining.

And the river rose

And kept on rising

And people started to mutter

And the water rose higher

And the muttering grew louder

And still the water rose.

“It’ll be like the floods of 1978” they said

And Robin, who was there in 1978 (so was I but I was only 2) saw what this water could do. And every year he would move his fleet of land cruisers up and away from the hungry river and out to the airport. And every year we would all laugh at him. But this year…

He was right.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Weekends are for playing

It was an (almost) Full Moon Party complete with bonfire, a pot of stew big enough to satiate Obelix and a beautiful little stone house that smells of leather and woodsmoke. The brave little house, all lonely and windswept, hangs for dear life onto the sweeping howling plains and looks up at Kilimanjaro in awe.

And there are friends. Old and new and not yet met. And jamming. Guitars, drums and the most beautiful violin you ever did hear.


Just before midnight.

A dancing horse.

The clouds are scudding across the sky, rolling off Kilimanjaro and getting sucked across to Mt. Meru, where lightening and thunder are announcing their own full moon party. And the moon is round and aloof, staring down disinterestedly. Well she pretends to be disinterested, but I know better.

The hill children, who have up until now been fighting sleep with light sabers suddenly wake up and rush off to the stables. (Like elephants before a tsunami. How do they know?) Snippets of excited babble. "I saw Carlos".... "In a black suit" .... "looks just like Zorro" .... "no silly, without the mask" And they scamper back and report to the grown ups that It's Time.

As we troop off past the stables, I see Orion do a double take as he looks down and sees a trio of musicians standing in the centre of a riding ring in the middle of the scrubby African plains. And under the guardianship of the two ancient mountains a dark powerful horse is galloping and frothing and, yes, dancing under the soft and skillful hands of our fabulous host Carlos.

The drive back the next day is stark. The sun is shouting, drumming up the clouds. On our left Kilimanjaro, on our right Meru, the dusty road snaking between them.

"Very Fung Shui" says the man, drily.

And we Make Plans. To explore more. To get a tent. To embrace this country we live in.

And all the while our daughter sleeps on.

Picture Window

So very clear today