Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Looking back - looking forward

This has been a momentous year for me.  Although I knew that at some stage this year I would be able to make more definite plans to move to Australia, there was no certainty in terms of time.
I seemed to spend large chunks of the year involved with paperwork of one kind or another. Bureaucracy carries the burden of consuming much in the way of the world’s resources in terms of time and paper. So often I would complete lengthy forms only to find that they were misplaced and would have to be supplied once more. Call centres became the bane of my existence. Eventually all was in order, and I could make final plans.
Keeping creative while living in a state of transition is difficult, but fortunately, during the year  I had an important group show,  ConglomerART at artSPACE Durban to work towards.

Sinister Pools triptych each 915mm x 610mm ©Carol Lee Beckx

This was the second show by a group of artists who had completed the Artists’ Professional Practice Course facilitated by KZNSA (Kwa Zulu Natal Society of Artists)The first  exhibition was Big Night Out. The theme of my paintings was landscape - particularly the Drakensberg Mountains of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa and the cityscapes of the Drive Home series. The river in the painting above has a very interesting history. I will be writing more about this painting in a future blog.

Giving a workshop on drawing with ink and doing painting demonstrations for a couple of art groups gave me the opportunity to re-kindle my love of teaching. Teaching will certainly be part of my plan for the coming year.
Protea Cyranoides II Pen& ink 117mm X 165mm
©Carol Lee Beckx

Living without a sense of time is disconcerting so I needed to plan how to make best use of the year to prepare for my future.
The first most important step was to create my own website. I used specialist designers, but in actuality, I did most of the design work myself. By nature I have definite ideas of how I want things to look, so it was a case of telling them what I wanted.
Once the  website went live, I could take the next step and start writing a blog – Art matters. I wanted to reinforce my online presence as this is now essential for any artist.
I found that writing has given me a sense of continuity and purpose. Words have helped me work through the many different moods and emotions that a period of transition creates. I have found it fascinating that my readers hail from such different parts of the world – countries that I never expected to find anyone interested in my blog. Thank you for visiting and I hope that you will continue to do so in the New Year.
I wish you peace, happiness and a creative New Year.

Monday, 13 December 2010


I have recently undertaken a long journey. Anyone who still thinks air travel is exciting and romantic is labouring under a severe misconception. I also had the rather bizarre experience of flying in the opposite direction to Dubai before flying to Brisbane. If we were living in medieval times, air travel would be used as a most effective form of torture. Then, when you reach your destination, you realize that you have lost a day.

Coming in to land - Dubai lights
Moving to another country is an exciting experience although there are many unknowns and much unfamiliar territory. At the moment, I feel more like a visitor than a resident. That will change as I get myself organized and find my way around.
Much as artists want to be free to be creative, I think at heart we do enjoy a routine to our daily life. We do better work when we set aside a specific time to our work. When there is no routine at all, it’s difficult to focus. It will take some time for me to set up a routine but for the moment I enjoy each day as it comes.

Drive Home Series
These small paintings were painted when I was still in South Africa and are a direct result of a daily routine that was suddenly changed, and an ordinary journey that took on a different aspect.
The routine of driving home from work was usually always the same. A slow drive in the traffic took me along the same road; I would see the same people selling goods at the same street corner. There’s nothing much to get excited about.

Drive Home - Red car - oil on canvas
205mm x 205mm         
©2010 Carol Lee Beckx
Then one day, I was a little later than usual and it had been raining. The streets were transformed. Wonderful reflections from the traffic lights lit up the road. Luckily I had my camera in the car and while waiting for the traffic to move I could capture the moment.  A mundane routine became an exciting inspiration for a series of paintings.
The series illustrates the drive from the centre of Durban, down Berea Road, along Essenwood Road with the large leafy trees and then down Argyle Road. One of the paintings includes the Moses Mabida soccer stadium. During the day the iconic white stadium has quite a different look, at night it’s a ribbon of lights shining against the night sky.

Drive home - Moses Mabida Stadium -oil on canvas
205mm x 205mm            
©2010 Carol Lee Beckx
The paintings showed the transition from early evening with gentle pastel colours in the clouds, gradually getting darker and darker until the lights are shining against the night sky – a dramatic contrast.
 A full portfolio of these paintings can be viewed on my website in the  Paintings section, Landscape portfolio.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Visitors to my Garden

One of the most rewarding things about my garden has been that I have had such interesting visitors. I woke early one morning to hear a strange sound – not a bird – something different – I peeped out of the window and saw a mongoose sitting up surveying the garden. Then another popped his head up, and another – until there must have fifteen or so in the garden.
Although I tried not to move or make any noise, suddenly they became aware that someone was watching. Startled, they ran off into the bush on the other side of the road . The magical moment was over.
The mongoose family was too quick for my camera, but the Vervet monkeys come almost daily. They run along the wall, on to the roof and jump into the large Natal Mahogany tree. The youngsters run along the branches right to the end and jump or almost fall out of the tree. Then they do it all over again.

Most stop to drink water from a large ceramic bowl, then run along the fence before running into the bush across the road. A few days ago the troop spent a long time playing. It  seemed as though they were showing off for me. 

I wasn't really prepared to shoot them playing - I should have taken a video of them, but these photos give an idea of the fun they were having.

Later on I wanted to photograph a painting so I had gone out on to the patio where I could use natural light. I was standing taking photos when I felt something near me. I looked up and there, a couple of metres from me, was a Wooly necked stork, completely at ease and quite unconcerned by my presence. He wandered around looking for insects so I was able to get a few photos.

The weaver birds love making their nests in the Fever trees. The thorny branches make nest construction easy

But the women are so fussy – every day quite a few nests are found to be sub-standard and rejected, only to lie abandoned on the ground – the poor males just have to start again.

Then there are a few special flowers. There is the Crinum lily that made its eventual appearance after growing for a number of years without a flower.
At the moment another beauty is a wonderful purple iris. The plant itself it rather unremarkable - it has green strap-like leaves that for most of the year are quite boring. Then the plant starts to bloom and magic happens.Each bloom lasts only a day before fading.

A day or two later, one is rewarded with another few blooms. Eventually where the blooms have been leaves shoot out and that can be cut off to grow into a new plant. I received my first plant from a friend, and I have been able to give  new plants to others.

I'll be sad to leave but I have great memories. Now I look forward to new adventures in Brisbane.