2017 – artist, mother and very obedient housewife!!

Today I feel the need to write about my challenges of attempting to walk the paths of doting mother, efficient wife and creative artist. I don’t think anyone ever manages to completely master all three at the same time, and it’s a constant lesson in life. Switching from the left to the right side of the brain, is a concious effort and takes discipline we often don’t have. it also requires patience!! For example as I am writing this I have a cheeky 2 year old peeping at me over my laptop screen!  Having your own time and space is a rare commodity. But I have learnt to deal with situations with humour and love and then usually its all fine. But occasionally humour is difficult to find and love which is there somewhere, always there, but sometimes seems to be in the deepest recesses of your soul and dredging it to the surface is a task! As for wife! Everyone needs to eat, clean a house, ensure kids are taken to and from the school bus and just to top it, husbands need you. Now, at the risk of sounding like a 1950’s housewife, life on a farm in the middle of Africa requires a bit of sacrifice on the trendy woman I happen to be (ahem.) I am also in the market for helping with the office work, which usually the thought of fills me with a silent scream!

Going from all this to creative artist in a heartbeat is extremely difficult, and my poor family usually bear the brunt of my frustration as my mood switches between filthy and slightly lighter and fluffier. It must be hard to live with an artist I have to admit. Life gets in the way. But what would we be without the experiences real life throws at us? I am willing to bet that our creativity wouldn’t be anywhere as colourful or vibrant. As much as we would love to hole ourselves up in our studios and not be disturbed for hours on end, whenever I imagine not having my family and my life around me, I have a feeling of dread and that makes me realise how important variety is and how every experience we have in the real world contributes to our Art and our creations. Everything is a creation at the end of the day, including our children, love lives, right down to the food we throw together in the kitchen to sustain us and our families. It all contributes to our creative well, and so I guess, in conclusion, if we can bring ourselves to understand that All is creativity and not try to separate our Art and Real Life, then we are on the path to enlightenment, or at least sanity!!!


2013 – My day with Lisa Hywood at the Tikki Hywood Trust

In 2013 Lisa Hywood and I decided to embark on an adventure. That is, we are to hold an exhibition of my paintings in London to raise funds for her trust in May 2014. I decided to visit her in Harare to meet the animals I would use as subjects, to get to know their personalities and quirkiness, which in portraying in my paintings, is a major part of my success. Samantha, my 4 year old daughter, and I set off. We found the Tikki Hywood trust in the heart of Borrowdale, Harare, perched on a hill in the beautiful leafy suburbs, surrounded by indigenous msasa trees. Going through the electric gate and winding up the driveway, we passed well tended tropical gardens with mowed lawn. At the top of the hill is the Hywood family home With stunning views of Harares suburbs. Lisa was hard at work at her computer, skyping someone far away overseas, talking about her trust to them. Waiting for her to finish, I walked outside with Sam, wondering where all the animals were kept. Looking over the edge of a low wall, all the way down the hill in the tropical gardens I suddenly noticed huge pens made from high security fencing, all leading one onto the other. Stunned, I suddenly realised this was it! So well camouflaged amongst the original garden, palms and ferns in one pen, a rose garden and fountain in another, Lisa had ingeniously incorporated her pens within the original garden, and it was so well kept, it just looked perfect! Later Lisa took me for a tour. She told me that the pens had interleading gates and that some of the animals were gently pushed into the next door pen, for variety and so they didn’t become bored and lethargic.  I met the hedgehog family in  their little brick house, and learnt how they came to be there, some victims of accidents and others from people who had them as pets. I briefly saw the pangolins but they are nocturnal and having a kip. The bat eared foxes stalked us from out of their ferny hideout, quiet and quizzical. I had to take 100 photos of them, they have always been a favourite of mine. The serval cuddled Lisa and hissed at us (Sam wasn’t allowed in the pen, the serval thought she looked a bit too tasty despite mice making up their main diet!) I also saw some giant white rabbits which Lisa uses as companion animals for new additions, as they are put together and the rabbit presumably calms the panic stricken animal down, teaching it the ropes!

I loved my little tour, and I admire Lisa for what she has achieved and for her passion and the people that she works with. This is not a zoo. She is not open to the public at all, there is no sign outside her house stating what lies within. In fact I am pretty sure the smart households up and down her shady street are completely unaware of the menagerie within the walls!

Lisa and her serval








9 October 2012 – location: Two Streams Farm, Zambia

Welcome to my Journal! This morning I went for an early morning saunter ‘around the block’, so to speak. Jumping over the back veranda wall as to not attract the attention of my well meaning by rather noisy children, I scuttled down the road. Its so peaceful here on the farm, because its a farm dedicated mainly to wildlife. Chesney has his tobacco operation on the other side of the farm, so noise from tractors and people is kept to a minimum. The first little surprise I had on my walk was a small flock of woodpeckers! Not something you get to see flitting around very often. I didn’t manage to see what type of woodpecker they were. On I went, and found myself giving me the odd left hook, on account of the flies zipping around my head, and had to adopt a branch to swish around me while I walked. Being on a game farm, in October when the water is so short, the flies are relentless, even early in the morning. Suitably attired with said swisher, I went through the small, cleared area Ches was going to, at one stage, plant Jatropha trees in. It was a moment in time when we were under the impression that bio-fuels were going to be a more economical way to run farm vehicles. Alas, the idea never bore fruit, as it was more complicated than what we were lead to believe. I startled a scrub hare here, and caught sight of its huge ears, almost white at the back, ‘haring’ off in the other direction. Soon after that I spotted a freshly dug aardvark hole in the road, and spooked a herd of impala grazing among the mixed miombo woodland, mainly made up of ‘smelly socks’ trees, or silver leaf terminalia. (named the ‘smelly socks tree’ for obvious reasons at certain times of the year). Last but not least, on my early morning stroll, there was a startling white Spar grocery packet wending its way along, bringing home to me just how humans can make stuff which is so unnatural that it stands out like an elephant in a fridge. Having picked the unwanted packet up, my last leg takes me up the short slope towards our house, and under the massive fig tree which stands in the middle of the clearing.
The walk was a mere 15 minutes of my life, yet afterwards I felt as though I had meditated for an hour, such was the feeling of peace it gave me. I am always surprised how I manage to forget what small tasks I can do for myself, not at all time-consuming, that put my mind at peace and make my world and its issues seem insignificant. I get all worked up about problems I perceive myself to have and they get out of control, before taking myself off for a bit of ‘me’ time. Next time I will probably have the same startling revelation, just wait and see!

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