Something about Mr. What-if and Dr. Guilt-trip

Studio news/blog


Life is like a glass skull filled with bubblegum -balls

Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, but hunger gnaws you.  You have been loved, but your yearning wanders on new fields.

……and your mind says: have I worked enough?Have I eaten enough? Have I loved enough? All of these of course are the foundation of man’s greatest curse and perhaps greatest glory.

What has my life meant so far, and what can it mean in the time left to me? What am I worth?

I think the above quote comes from john Steinbeck…I wrote it down in my 2003 journal

Yep, this quote above pretty much sums up the space I were in during the last week of October until early November. JHB and the plane ride was not as good to me as I wanted it to be. (with that said…I have had great opportunities this year, but did I make the right choices along the way?)

To top it all…Mr. What-if and his brother Dr. Guilt-trip came to visit me during the above mentioned time.

What if I accepted all the invitations while in JHB and tried harder to have a cup of coffee with Mika or visit Gordon’s studio, ArteEye gallery and friends like Elise while I was there? Yes I did not have transport, but

What if I took a taxi everywhere?

What if I explored the City in the short time I had there?

What if my show was better received than it has been?

What if I didn’t even persue the JHB show which I worked on for more than 8 months?

What if I got my Visa and passport and applied for a grant or join Patreon or Kickstarter or applied for a grant to raise money to attend the opening of my first solo exhibition in Australia and also visit the Textile Biennale in the Netherlands.

I’ve never been outside the borders of South Africa…is it worth it?

But then off course Dr. Guilt-trip says:

What about the mission to organize all the paperwork, and childcare for when you pack up and leave, and what about all the work you still have to do for other group exhibitions?

What about the fact that you can’t say no to opportunities and a show in JHB was just the thing to bring you back down to earth?

What about the awesome time you spent with your cousin in JHB, and the night you spent in a place you otherwise never would have?

What about the other interesting conversations and experiences you had, as well as this feeling of aloneness and sadness- try to understand it, don’t fight. It’s all part of the process…

Could one have too many doubts?

picture of quote : It’s maybe best to keep one’s doubts private. Saying them aloud cheapens them. –Anon

So I didn’t try to think about all these things listed above, or talk about it anywhere on social media, except for a few close friends via email- or face to face. But I must add that social media gave me something…it comforted me with the words of Winston Churchill:

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”.

And Social media reminded me to listen to the commencement speech by Neil Gaiman, again. (link) I’ve listen to it before, but sometimes i need a reminder.

And as usually the case… one thing leads to another and I listen to the TED talk by Amanda Palmer (Link). Which led me to visit her webpage…

My friend Lavender Fishoek told me long time ago to check Amanda out but some things need time for that right-time- right-place magic to happen.

(my friend also told me recently a beautiful anecdote about David Blaine – something I’ll tell you about in my next post),

But before the speeches and TED talks I was still busy with research for an upcoming show titled Spiritual Grunge. I’ve finished the works before I left for JHB already, but was still in the process of listening to the music as well as reading biographies, interviews, blogs etc. about Grunge.

It started with Kurt. I could relate to his depression, angst, and disgust. Via revisiting Kurt, I started to listen to Hole again. I have heard their music before and my favourite track was and still is “Doll Parts”, but I only recently found Courtney Loves “Happy ending story”. Which I listend to constantly for a while.

One could say I got earworms (the germans have an expression for when you can’t get a song out of your head: they say that you have an “ear worm”.)


*Happy Ending Story”

“Doll parts”

*My pop val stukkend

*3rd day of a 7 day binge

I also retreated into my studio. I cleaned, rearranged it. Decided to make the ugliest dolls/effigies/talismans I could think of. To use what i have.  At this stage I don’t care if they don’t want to leave the studio, but I had to make them. To quote Amanda Palmer:

“whatever i’m making, i’m making. i’m very committed to doing what i feel like doing.  to me, that’s the true art….silly or serious. not the product. but the art of doing what you’re drawn to do, regardless of who gives no fuck.”

By making these ‘dolls’ I am learning so much about myself

Rosyntjie and Tant Koba, (mixed media, fabric, found objects, cotton thread and ruber)

doll 2 (mixed media, found objects, cotton thread and rubber) – work in progress

Dolls are very close to us. This is also true in the field of psychotherapy. Dolls are used in play therapy and in sandplay therapy. Thus, it is meaningful to discuss the use of dolls in these therapies. When we think about dolls, what may be a characteristic feature is that people play with dolls. Different from other human-shaped things, an individual plays with dolls. With that characteristic, dolls have duality: they are a part of “I” although they are not “I.” Because dolls have such a gray existence, they have been used as a hitogata on which people place their hopes or sufferings. In the field of psychotherapy, dolls continue to be a gray existence that underlies our thoughts and sufferings.

I am learning things that feels like it is leading to something…I have big dreams…

“The desire to succeed had left Vincent.  He worked because he had to, because it kept him from suffering too much mentally, because it distracted his mind…”.Lust for life – Irving stone



Studio news

The Hotel I used to work at, didn’t have a room with the number 13. I also heard that some buildings don’t have a 13th floor. It goes straight from 12 to 14.

I like 13. It was my birthday on the 13th of August and so much awesomeness happened recently that I would like to share it with you.

On the 12th of August the crew from the TV show “Mooiloop” visited our beautiful town Stilbaai and my studio:

Prim and proper :-)...behind the scenes with TV presenter Denvor Phokaners.

Prim and proper :-)…behind the scenes with TV presenter Denvor Phokaners.

Behind the scenes with Mooiloop TV

Behind the scenes with Mooiloop TV

Thank you for telling them about my work!

In my studio with the presenter Denvor Phokaners

In my studio with the presenter Denvor Phokaners

What an interesting experience…it felt quite surreal!

Afterwards we were off to Witsand for the weekend. That was my birthday present from my dad:

Father and daughter 2016

Father and daughter 2016

The morning of the 13th I woke up with the sight of wales playing in the ocean, and our boys gave me gifts they picked up on the beach. In the afternoon we went fishing

catch of the day

catch of the day

and enjoyed a picnic.

I wish I could translate my happiness into words!

On our way back home the next day we stopped at the “Blue Crane Farmshop”  . We thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality and amazing coffee…I was admiring their collection of vintage dolls….and then suddenly Philippa, who greeted us at the door when we arrived, gave me the most beautiful baby doll as a gift! (without even knowing that it was my birthday the previous day)


at the Blue Crane farmshop

at the Blue Crane farmshop

What an amazing, warm-hearted lovely gesture….

I am filled with so much gratitude! Thank you to dearest friends for their support and my loving family and meeting new acquaintances with warm hearts.

I salute you x




they found a home

Art portfolio- my work

It’s the first time ever I’ve done a commission.

Luckily it was one that I had free reign to do what I wanted.  That also made it difficult, because I didn’t know the art patron well.  All I knew was that she has written a book called “Dans met die rooi rok” and that she wanted an embroidered rubber doll.  So instead of 1 I made 3 for her to choose from.

The first one I gave a red dress, because I’ve read about the book she wrote.  Unfortunately I haven’t read her book yet, but it’s on my reading list!   The quote on this artwork comes from the book: “Women wedlock and the world”.

The second “doll” is called “Blomme-meisie”.  and the third ones title is: “Gouelokkies was eintlik n beer/Goldilocks was actually a bear”.

Instead of one she chose two!

These two found a home:

"Ignorance" embroidery on rubber/inner tube. 400 x 180mm (private collection)

“Ignorance” embroidery on rubber/inner tube. 400 x 180mm (private collection)

"Blomme-meisie" embroidery on rubber/inner tube.  310 x120 mm (private collection)

“Blomme-meisie” embroidery on rubber/inner tube. 310 x120 mm (private collection)

I do hope that she gets as much joy from these pieces as I had in making them.



Things that crossed my path recently

Studio news/blog

I am so glad a friend introduced me to Junxtapoz Magazine’s page (see here).

It was on their page that i found the following things that made me excited:

1.  The work of Ed Fairburn (because I have a soft spot for maps)- see the link here

Ed Fairburn's work

Ed Fairburn’s work

2.  Drawings of beautiful fairytale like creatures by Nicholas Di Genova (see link here)

Work by Nicholas Di Genova

Work by Nicholas Di Genova

I really like this creature because it combines two of my favourite animals!

3.  And then of course this doll- because I love dolls- not in that way, but this link made me feel kind of sorry for them:

Work by Jason Lee

Work by Jason Lee

but maybe i shouldn’t worry about them, because they will be loved in some way or another- right?

Mandrakes pollinating

Art portfolio- my work
"Mandrake: male and female (pollinating)" Embroidery on rubber and thread. Painted vintage frames

“Mandrake: male and female (pollinating)” Embroidery on rubber and thread. Painted vintage frames


“The belief in the animation of the doll reaches a culmination, vital yet half devilish, in the mandrake, or ‘gallowsman.’  The mandrake, which is mentioned even in the Bible, bears a name which itself signifies a living idol.  It is in reality the root of white bryony, which closely resembles the human form, or of the mandragora (called also Allermannskraut), which grows in the Southern Alps. “

In the Middle Ages it was believed that it originated from the last seminal effusion of a man hanged on the gallows, and that when uprooted it uttered a moaning cry.  Since he who digs it up must die, it is tied to the tail of a black dog, which is then made to drag it from the earth.  It must be washed with wine, bathed, nursed, and suitably clothed.  Its demonic character is revealed by the fact that it will not leave its possessor’  of itself, if it is carried away,  it returns tho him.  Should anyone desire to get rid of the root he must sell it more cheaply than he has bought it,  and the last purchaser has to keep it.  It brings luck to its possessor, makes him rich, opens up secrets to him, and many professional thieves today still hold to the conviction that with its help the doors of any castle can be unlocked.”  p 65 and 66 from the book Dolls by Max von Boehn

Mandrake female (detail)

Mandrake female (detail)

Mandrake male (detail)

Mandrake male (detail)


“Throughout the entire Orient the mandrake is regarded as a valuable talisman, for it is believed that it makes its possessor proof against cut, thrust, and bullet;  it is esteemed as an aphrodisiac’ since, too, the conviction is held that it can cure its possessor’s illnesses and transfer them to others, it is a highly coveted article.”  p 67 from the book: Dolls by Max von Boehn