Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leon Botha: artist

Some folk reading this blog may already know Leon Botha, who featured in Die Antwoord’s music video Enter the Ninja. I first encountered him on that social networking site we all love to hate but can’t seem to stay the hell away from, when I saw some of the enigmatic art he creates.

When Leon and I started chatting, we fast realised we had a lot in common with regard to some of our interests and, how’s this for a piece of synchronicity, we both had almost-identical tattoos completed independently within weeks of each other, at the same tattoo parlour. While I sport the Egyptian Neteru Set and Horus on my left and right wrists respectively, Leon has paid homage to Thoth.

Not long ago, Capetonians could also view another aspect of Leon’s art, when he collaborated with South African photographer Gordon Clark to present the Who Am I? exhibition, which challenged people to examine the perceptions, preconceptions and values.

I’d like to thank Leon Botha for stopping by my blog and share some of his thoughts.

Tell me more about your creative process and how you approach painting.
It depends… Generally I mostly live in my head. I am always drawing parallels between things in my head, working on some concept or interpreting some thought or feeling I get from anything such as music, books or some other experience, visually. (It’s not really as exciting as it sounds, it’s just how my mind works.) Usually, at some point I would deem any one of them ready, and I will attempt to “bring it” into this realm. As I’m doing this, of course it takes on a life of itself as it suddenly needs to abide to certain laws, and the difficulty for me is usually to shape it into a compromise. It can be very frustrating, but it is also why I don’t plan things or draw them out too thoroughly beforehand.

I can also simply desire to use a specific colour, subject or theme, and will just flow with it.
Technically, I use a lot of strong colours, as well as darkness, sharp lines and many layers as a sort of “dry brush” technique. So acrylics work fine for me because it’s so quick drying. I mostly use canvas, and generally don’t do any drawings beforehand.

So, when and where did you meet Gordon Clark?
He saw me in town and wanted to work with me, but somehow lost sight of me. Later he mentioned me to a friend who is a curator of a gallery in town. Ironically I was about to open my second solo exhibition there and she gave him my details and we set up a meeting.

What went into the creative process for the Who Am I? exhibition?
A lot of conversations… We generally had a similar idea as far as direction, in which we wanted to go, and we just pulled a whole lot of ideas from conversations regarding all aspects of life.

Sometimes, adapting the idea, and sometimes coming up with new ones while working on location. We were not restricted or limiting ourselves in any case. So the whole flow or creative process went very harmoniously.

What do you like about hip hop?
It is kind of like the melting pot of all music genres. It is not limited in scope, and in its essence, not really a genre at all.

It is as much a question as a definition.

Although my musical taste is certainly not limited to it, it has the certain “edge” of all other music that I enjoy.

As I say, it is not just a genre of music, but a way of life, a certain edge, attitude and way to view the world, which opened my perception to a lot of things, and influenced practically everything that I do.

And Die Antwoord? What have some of the after-effects of Enter the Ninja been?
Locally people seem to remember me from “that video”, and globally there has been a rise of interest to me/my work online. I have sold a few paintings overseas since then, as well.

Tell us a little about what you’re reading at the moment.
I’ve been reading a lot about Alchemy in the last years. The symbols and archetypes, and how the relativity of reality (our perception) can always be used in a way that “purifies” our thoughts, or enables us to grow as individuals (however one may see this). And not to see things as simply “good” or “bad”, “yin” or “yang”, but to merge them. To over-stand that our greatest blessing, is often inherited in what we perceived to be our greatest curse.

How do you approach time?
I try to grab it with both hands. So much, to the extend that I always go to bed way into the AM, and as the pendulum swings, I wake up way too late as well. (I will never be bored, and honestly don’t understand how one can claim to be that in this day and age).

All there ever is, or will be, is the present moment. Whenever I am able to really be aware of this, I am harmonious. And whenever I am not, I am only on my way to realise it again. There is nowhere else to go… The past was once the future, and the future will at once be the past. And while the transition happens in this moment, it is way too quickly to fully embrace or define anyway. This is why time is an illusion. I try to be less logical in my approach, and more receptive or acting on feeling, because things seem to be speeding up more and more to me, and I can’t keep up.

What, in your opinion, is the most important aspect of being human?
I think the ability to interpret our thoughts and experiences in such a way that it adds things like meaning, value, purpose, etc. and that we continue to evolve or grow in our interpretations of these. It enables us to always expand our universe, both inner and outer. We can always look forward to something exciting, as the ratio between our questions and answers continue to evolve (and in essence provide for itself) as we seek and find, into the beautiful mystery that is life. Yeah, life is beautiful when I stay in its mystery as oppose to it’s “know” –ledge.

Useful links:

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Nerine Dorman' s blogging news...

Book one and two of my Khepera series are now available IN PRINT, in South Africa. No excuses about not reading on screen. Support a starving author so she can create more mayhem as a full-time occupation.

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Call for submissions. I'm currently on the prowl for fiction across all genres for a Titanic-inspired line of novellas and novels. See the link below for further information.

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And, if you reckon you've got what it takes to write a good horror or dark fantasy short story, we'd like to hear about it for the SA HORRORFEST's Bloody Parchment short fiction competition. Details here:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goths on Safari: Day two

Received our wake-up call at 6.30pm this morning but the husband was suffering from the start of one of his infamous migraines again, so I abandoned him, had breakfast and joined the early morning game drive and an exciting but fruitless hunt for the lions, who'd decided to go to ground in a river bed.

And wow, what a morning, a rare spittling of rain pin-pricking my face as it can only in the Karoo, the mist shrouding the koppies and making everything mysterious. A good catch was the pale chanting goshawk, a raptor that appears to be very much in evidence here.

All I saw of Harry the hippo was a bit of his snoot and twitchy ears as he regarded us from his pond. No showing off for the vehicle today. But we did see elephant, a whole herd of them, which was a good sighting as they demolished the acacia thickets. As well as the three-month old baby ellie who gambolled a bit.

Enjoyed views across the valley with hot chocolate and very nommy home-baked biscuits before we made serious inroads hunting the lion. You'd think finding white lions is a fairly easy business since they're white. Well, more off-white, really. They're just tawny sans the pigment in the fur and they do a bloody good job blending in with the vegetation.

Back at the lodge to collect Thomas, we were then whisked off by Trevor to view the other accommodation offerings, which includes Gondwana, which is the more relaxed family lodge and Tilney, which has a more colonial air to it. Very pretty overlooking the Warmwaterberg but I must admit, I'm totally sold on Dwyka's tents.

Sighting of this drive: African wild cat at Tilney. I've never seen one in the wild so this was a first for me.

On the way back along the dry river bed, Trevor stopped so that Thomas and I could see one of the rock art sites. This area is not as rich in paintings as the Cederberg but a casual search on the ground provided me with numerous artifacts (which I left behind like a good little archaeologically conscious individual). I was particularly blown away by the profusion of Aloe mitriformis and Thomas made a good spotting of a type of Haworthia clump in a crevasse.

Next sighting: A herd of ten kudu right by the side of the road. Magnificent!

No sooner had we eaten a divine lunch (springbok carpaccio; potato with blue cheese dressing and skinny fries) washed down once again with La Motte Sauvignon Blanc, we were off again, this time on Trevor's next trip out to hunt lions.

Yes, we saw the white rhinos are called here but we drove right into a journey of about 13 giraffe, who regarded us with great interest while we watched them browse.

Then, off hunting lion and, this time we got to see the male white lion's rump as he lounged under a bush. He lay there and lay there doing absolutely nothing with Trevor assuring us the others weren't far away. Of course, when lions don't want to be found, there's not much you can do about it and you're certainly not going to climb out of the Landy to go look for them.

Enter Mr Jackal, who'd figured out the lions were lounging about due to having made a kill earlier during the day. Mr Jackal has never been one to work too hard for food when freebies are on offer, so he ghosted about Mr White Lion's spot until the big cat decided he'd had enough of this nonsense and bestirred himself to chase the canid... for a short while.

Then he got bored and lay down again.

Eventually we figured out nothing else very exciting would happen so it was off to the lookout point where I enjoyed an Allesverloren (all is lost) port while schnacking on almonds and cashews, taking in the big dry river bed and hills. We watched a large flock of springbok graze against the wind and generally just appreciated the space.

The Karoo is not the bushveld. You're not going to find the ginormous teeming herds you'll encounter farther north in Kruger, but it has a beauty all of its own. I am a Karoo baby. Half my family originates from this area, so I guess the land is in my blood and bones, and I'm at home here.

As far as lodges go, Dwyka is one I WILL return to. It has that rare blend of five-star luxury but chilled-out hominess that doesn't leave me on edge. Some establishments you enter and immediately worry about smudging the furniture. Not so here, and the staff are friendly but not invisible. They're people who fast become friends within the 48 hours of a visit.

So, my verdict: if you can spend time at Sanbona and want to really feel like you've escaped the city and all the madness, the Dwyka Tented Lodge hits the mark. My only regret: that I didn't sit still long enough to really steep in the Karoo stillness, but I'm walking away with a genuine Karoo wilderness experience garnished with the kind of hospitality this area is legendary for.

Five out of five, guys! **wink**

Monday, August 9, 2010

Goths on Safari: Day one

Predictably, we missed the transfer from Sanbona's main gate to the Dwyka Tented Lodge. This meant that we had to mission about 60 or so kilometres along bumpy gravel roads in our trusty Palio. To be fair, the roads here are in better nick than the gravel roads in some parts of Namibia, so this time we did not shake the dashboard loose like the last time, to give our little Italian car some credit.

The Karoo this time of the year is... beautiful. And cold. We checked in and were shown our "tent", which is a term I'll use in the loosest sense of the word. Small house would be better suited. And the bath... Let me not make you jealous.

We were treated to nommies of smoked salmon and avocado on a bed of greens for a light lunch, before Trevor whisked us off on our first game drive in one of the Landies, cracking salty jokes all the way, much to our amusement. To give you some idea of the landscape, it's fairly hilly Little Karoo with typical mix of scrub and fynbos, with folded oxidised sandstone hills shot through with white quartz.

It being the Karoo, we're not going to see vast numbers of game like we would up in Kruger or the northern parts of the country, but today was special. We got to see a free-roaming wild cheetah with her two almost-grown cubs. We stood about 10 metres from her and the trio just lay there, watching us watch them. That was truly special for me since the only other time I encountered cheetah was the time I ran in the cheetah enclosure at Tygerberg Zoo (and we're not going to go into too much detail there, okay?)

Springbok abound, a species I'm more fond of with rosemary steeped in red wine with a dash of garlic, but we did spot some red hartebeest which, I'm told, the white lions enjoy quite raw. The cherry on the cake for the evening game drive was, however, the solitary white rhino bull who grazed merrily about twenty paces from our Landy. For the sake of sounding like a jaded local, I've seen plenty of these chaps before but it was still thrilling to see the great big grey chap schlurp up mouthfuls of herbs.

Back at the lodge and chilled to the bone, I was more than happy to graze on a wonderful selection of dinner, starting with a cheesy melba toast followed by butterfish (om nom nom nom nom) completed by a selection of cheese. Okay, I admit it, I'm a cheese freak. Had a lovely white wine, cannot remember the name but it features artwork by Paul du Toit on the label, who happened to be my ma's neighbour when we still lived in Hout Bay.

Right now, at time of writing, I'm one of the last (annoying) guests to ghost about the general lodge section. My motivation: this bloody lovely gas fire, gorgeous staff who just want to make sure I'm happy, and the wonderful sense of okay, let's just chill 'cos there's absolutely no cellphone reception and if you Skype me I'm probably not going to answer.

Sanbona gets it right and I'm horribly happy here.