I live and work in semi-rural Johannesburg, South Africa, with the poet Philip Vermaas. We live in a small cottage on Walnut Tree Farm. My recent paintings are a departure from my previous work which was mostly abstract. Now I’m exploring the subjects of my environment and places from my past, at how things have changed over the years. I prefer an impressionistic style to capture new and old worlds simultaneously. This strange sense of being back in my childhood surroundings inspired me to paint ‘House in Ruimsig’ and ‘Walnut Tree Farm’. South Africa seems to me to have unique light and colours. There is a wealth of South African art of townships, wildlife and veld scenes, and these have become popular in galleries selling to the tourist market. I wanted to show another side of this country, something more personal and less commercial because I feel that if you actually stop and look there are other distinct, beautiful places in South Africa.
‘House in Ruimsig’ is a derelict house down the road. The occupants have changed over the years. The decay of the house reflects time passing and some of the problems people face during this time in South Africa. As a child I passed this house on my way to play at the river and always wondered who was living there. Now there’s a poor family living in this small one-room house. They’re often seen eating meals at the back and, despite their lack of means, seem to get on with life as well as many do in these parts where work is hard to find and struggling is a condition of life.
‘Walnut Tree Farm’ is part of my childhood but has changed over the years. I like this perspective and remember running down towards the rickety wooden gate to go and play in the fields. If the canvas was wider you’d see the satellite dish which wasn’t there when I was a child. Except for a lick of paint, it hasn’t changed otherwise.