YAY! COLOUR! [ZEITZ MOCAA CAPE TOWN]


 

I enjoy colour. Bright and bold or pastel and delicate.

So you will understand my lukewarm response to the Zeitz MOCAA’s super modern colour scheme of black, grey and neturals inside the building. The coffee shop on the 6th floor offers a superb view of the harbour and a slice of the city, but the table ware and china were yet again in that stylish palette. As you can see below.

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Anyhoo: having enjoyed my tea break I popped into the Ladies’ Loo directly thereafter and OH JOY! Look what met my startled gaze: COLOUR. And plenty of it. Whoever designed the interiors of the ZM cloakrooms  had a nice sense of humour. Don’t you think?

 

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My fave is the red. I was blown away by the vivid colours – now I want a tomato red throne in my own bathroom at home!

 

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THE SILO DISTRICT AT THE V&A WATERFRONT


This is by way of a CATCH-UP POST.  Sometimes I write posts and for whatever reason they languish on my hard-drive. Here’s one that I hauled out from the beginning of 2019.

I recall struggling interminably with the size of the photos, and never succeeding; as you will see below. In the end I gave it up as a bad job. All the pics are mine, taken with my cellphone.

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A view of Table Mountain, from the Silo Precinct.

 

Although I enjoy the V & A Waterfront, our Numero Uno Tourist destination, I don’t visit very often. Last Sunday I pulled myself together and went to explore the recently completed Silo District area of the V&A . I’d read articles about the uber modern buildings and newly opened Zeitz MOCCA art gallery.

 

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As you can see from the pics  above   it really is bang up to the minute with trendy brand name shops (Bang & Olufsen, anyone?) plus upmarket hotels.

To my intense astonishment, I found a R15-00 cup of coffee at Si outdoor cafe; granted it was on Special Offer, but even so: usually the Waterfront is not noted for its bargain prices!

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And this is Africa folks – we could be in any major world city! Modern sculpture  (below) in the precinct.

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In distance tiny vignettes of old historic Cape Town  – Georgian buildings.

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So why is the precinct named the Silo District? The pic below explains:

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The British architectural firm, Thomas Heatherwick, turned the old grain silos in the dock area into the new Art Gallery.

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A view of our iconic mountain from the dockside

There’s labyrinthian underground parking – very confusing –  I lost my car.  On  arrival I saw many security  guards on bikes, fluorescent vest gleaming in the gloom –  but not one in sight when I went to retrieve my  car –  I had visions of my dessicated bag ‘o bones being discovered years later in a dusty corner. The design of the parking space is a crazy circular loop; no wonder I lost my car! I was never so glad to finally stumble upon my trusty little white Yaris! Purely by accident, I have to say.

Watch this space. In another post I’ll be adding more pics of the interior, and my favourite splash of colour at Zeitz Mocca.
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COOKING  CURRY


The Virus/Lockdown Combo   induced a sort of writers’ lethargy in me, dropping a thick blanket of torpor upon me, smothering my energy. I never knew what day of the week it was, and found it hard to concentrate. I noticed other bloggers  complaining about  the same deadening effect. With the slow reduction of our lock-down, a beam of sanity is creeping in. I plan on re-cycling a few older posts. My readership has changed enormously over the years, so most of you will not have read  this food/TV  post, dating back to 2015. Enjoy!

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I watched a BBC cooking show, a series called Rick Stein’s India which gave us all the colour, dust, crowds, gaudy festivals, temples, gorgeous saris, elephants, and palaces you could ever wish for. An absolute feast for the eye. My favourite street scene shows an elephant slowly ambling along a road bordering a street market, and at each stall the vendor steps forward and offers one item – mostly fruits – from his stall, which the elephant gracefully scoops up with a curled trunk, while the vendor makes a Namaste and a slight head bow.

In amongst this, the pink and perspiring Mr Rick Stein, notebook in hand, camera-man at his shoulder, valiantly researched South Indian cuisine, Rajasthani delights, on and on he went, through humble home kitchens, hole-in-the-wall kitchens in cities,  no bigger than a broom cupboard, tucked down side-streets, manned by sweating cooks turning out their speciality – just the one dish, there literally being no room to produce more than one. He ate street food (and there were never any references to the dreaded Delhi Belly, he must have a very strong stomach!). He ate in a restaurant run by a Maharajah, who personally cooked ‘Jungly Mas’ for him – a simple dish consisting of goat, water, salty, ghee and chillies. He ate at the Indian school equivalent to Eton. He ate at the Golden Temple, in  Amritsar, where thousands are fed daily – food is cooked in vast vats over open wood fires, by bare-chested, lunghi-clad old men.

No matter where he ate, the theme seldom varied: curry. Sometimes it was vegetarian curry, sometimes fish, but often it was goat curry, masquerading as lamb, called lamb, and never referred to as goat. I gathered that sheep didn’t do well in India. Imagine those thick woolly fleeces in that terrific heat!

He conducted an earnest enquiry during his travels, as to whether Indians use the ubiquitous word ‘curry’ and if so, what they meant by the term?  Apparently in Britain, the word curry covers practically any hot and spicy main dish, produced by immigrant families in takeaways, in the local High Street; accompanied by naan bread  and lots of lager.

It transpired that most Indians were quite happy to use the word curry, although – strictly speaking – the work means ‘gravy’. But it seems that ‘curry’ has entered the many languages of India, and is widely use, to cover main dishes ranging from the most subtly fragrant to the most inflammatory chilli. One Indian gentleman, a famous cook in India, discoursed eloquently and scornfully on the horrors of “Indian Curry Powder”, the boxed variety brought home from colonial service, to dear old Blighty, by the British. His condemnation of commercial curry powder was a joy to listen to! Indian cooks, of course, buy and grind their spices daily, at home, depending on the dish they’re making. I have to agree, that boxed curry powder (Rajah Curry here in South Africa) while quick and easy is always too hot. I don’t like blow-your-sox off fiery curries, I prefer spicy, deep flavoured curries.

So: inspired by Mr Stein, I hauled out my cookery books and made a tasty cauliflower curry for lunch yesterday. It’s quite a fiddly process, what with the chopping up of the veg, the discovery that I do not have fenugreek, or ground clove in my spice drawer, the garlic is finished, and so on – back to the shops yet again. But the results were worth it, and I have a nice stash of curry dinners tucked away in my freezer.

I can’t resist a bargain, especially in the cash-strapped month of January, so I bought vast quantities of tomatoes which suddenly appeared at Food Lovers’ Market at literally give-away prices, and I’ve found a recipe for tomato and hardboiled egg curry.   Hardboiled eggs, oddly enough, go well in a curry sauce. Sounds good to me!

 

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UNEXPECTED LOCKDOWN DILEMMAS


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A caller to our local radio station, Cape Talk, phoned for help.
She reported that her tin opener had broken, just as she was about to open a tin of beans. What to do? She’d stocked up on tinned goods. The family were waiting impatiently for supper.

 
So she rushed to her nearby supermarket to buy a new tin opener but discovered the kitchen gadget section was red taped off. She argued valiantly with the floor manager that a replacement tin opener was an Essential Item, and therefore permissible. But he wasn’t having it, and chased her away.

 
She returned home, frustrated. Now what? Aha! Cape Talk listeners always provided the answer to everything. So she phoned in. Sure enough, within seconds of having her plight broadcast, a brisk lady was telling her to use her Swiss Army knife. Not quite adding: pull yourself together woman! But her tone said it all.

 
Of course! Everybody has a Swiss Army knife, or a rip-off version, in their house – don’t they?

 
In case of desperate times, makes sure you have a Swiss Army Knife available. It has more gadgets concealed in its chunky metallic innards than you ever dreamed of. Plus, and this is the really good one, it has a thingy which extracts stones from horses’ hooves. What more you could possibly want?

 
The moral of the story is: always hide a back-up tin-opener and a box of matches in the back of the kitchen drawer. Would you believe I once worked for the Boy Scouts of South Africa? Always be Prepared was the old motto. Not a bad idea.

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WOMAN v.s BLACK PLASTIC RUBBISH BAG


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I am overwhelmed by the pandemic, I just need a little light relief. So that’s why I’m posting this piece today, written earlier in the year. Trivia, and inconsequential in the greater scheme of things, but … we all need a break.

These damn bags defeat me every time.
Despite the fact that I have opposable thumbs, a 1400 gram brain sitting inside my skull, and belong to the species that has travelled to outer space, removing a fresh black, plastic bag from the roll of new bags, and unfolding it to put into the kitchen rubbish bin always turns into ten minutes of sweaty frustration and bad language.

 
For openers, tearing the bag off the continuous roll is a challenge. Yes: there are perforations which – theoretically – tear along the dotted line and liberate one black bag. Except the perforations often don’t cooperate, causing me to hunt for scissors, snip it off, and (usually) succeed in creating an unwanted hole in a brand new bag. Sigh. Let’s try again. Maybe Bag #2 will permit me to remove it from its parent roll.
Okay. So now I have one creased new black bag in my hand. But now to unfold it. Umm. Where do I start? The folding pattern would baffle an Origami Master. The folding mechanism in the plastic bag factory must have been designed by goblins or aliens. Take your pick. Finally I persuade the folds to unfold, and voila, a new bag ready for the bin.

 
Except there’s one final test. You’ve all been baffled by this one, I’m sure. How to persuade the bag to open? Pull, tug, shake, rub, do what you will, you cannot get the two layers of plastic to part. But there’s a secret. And I will share it: lick your thumb and forefinger, and now rub the top join, where the bag should open. It just might! Success, at last!

 
Another precious ten minutes sliced away by time, into the garbage bin of my life, which I begrudge. I could have been occupied with something pleasant like reading a book, or something useful, like sorting out my latest credit card bill, but no: ten minutes wasted in Round # 493 in the uneven contest of Woman v.s. Garbage Bags. And don’t ask who won. Grrrhhh!!

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A SURPRISE BONUS DURING LOAD SHEDDING *


We’re currently undergoing two and a half hour periods of load-shedding, up to three times a day, which makes life difficult, as you can imagine. One of the difficulties is that the traffic lights don’t work when the power is off. Theoretically, the robot intersection should then operate as a four way stop.
Theoretically. Because there’s always some oke – usually in a huge 4×4 who’s in such a hurry, or so important, that he just barges across the intersection, out of turn. So crossing a busy intersection, or heaven forbid, executing a right-hand turn, is motorized Russian roulette. I hate driving when the lights are out.
Today I had no choice but to start my journey homeward during load-shedding. Horrors! Then inspiration struck. My homeward route passes the local beachfront, so why not detour to the beach, park, and wait until the appointed hour when the power should return? Brilliant idea.

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For once, there was no wind, the sun shone, the seagulls swooped and shouted and sunbathed from post perches.

 

The mountain loomed in blue majesty over the bay. Not so much as a baby cloudlet over Lions’ Head, a sign that clear, sunny dry weather will continue.

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A taxidriver and his gaartjie sat on the fence and relaxed. Given the state of his battered taxi in the parking lot, this was a good idea, prior to his attacking the peak hour afternoon traffic

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A perfect late summer afternoon in Cape Town. And when I tackled the roads again. the robots were working. What a relief!

*Our South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.

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The Long Tailed Wydah Bird


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Regrettably I can’t give credit to the photographer; pic  of pin-tailed wydah  sourced  off the web.
He’s back. Perching on the neighbour’s TV aerial, returning to catch his breath, after performing one of his complicated aerial dance routines, displaying his long ribbon of a tail in the most enticing way he knows how.
I watch him while I eat  breakfast. My high bar-stool chair gives me a perfect view out of the kitchen window, across the road, and I have a ringside seat to marvel at his beautiful dancing and his gorgeous tail. If I was a female wydah bird, I’d be smitten by such daring dancing, and such an elegant tail!  After many days of careful observation I can report the bird has a definite pattern which he follows. I can’t describe it to you, save to say it incorporates swoops, dips and turns all of which display his long, ribbon tail feathers to best advantage.

 

Whether the pic above shows my neighbourhood bird is difficult to say. From my vantage point, its difficult to see what colour he is. But the whole point about the post are his magnificent tail feathers, which the pic shows to advantage.

 
Last week I spotted a much smaller, and of course tail-less bird (females of the species, etc. ) perched on the opposite end of the TV aerial, not quite alongside him, but at an interested distance. After a minute or two, she flew away. Ag shame. He’ll have to polish up his dance routine and try again.
I’ve noticed that he’s very aggressive, and if another bird intrudes into his air space he zooms up immediately and chases them away, regardless of size.
After some Googling, I learn that the male wydah bird’s tail can grown to as much as three times his body length during the breeding season, and that wydahs lay their eggs in other birds’ nest, a la the cuckoo. However, apparently other birds either don’t notice or mind, because they don’t kick out the foreign eggs, so more  generations of wydah birds takes to the skies.

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THE FINALE – INVESTEC 2020


https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/
I’ve enjoyed sharing my Investec 2020 visit with you, but all good things must come to an end. So I thought I would finish off with these two gloriously kitsch ceramic pieces.

 
The first piece looks like the aftermath of an explosion in a junk shop. Imagine if somebody gave you this object as a gift? The mind boggles.

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But the second piece I want to share, has made me stop and think more deeply. Initially I was going to pass off the piece as a striking example of kitsch, and comment on the lovely bright red lacquer finish, which I find very appealing.  I notice my pic shows it as a pink colour, but the original was a striking, shiny Chinese lacquer red. But when I hunted through my pics for the photo showing the artist’s name, I noticed the title of the piece, which is “Mammie”.

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I took a closer look, and enlarged the photo so I could see the woman peering hesitantly? Furtively? Shyly ? out of her frame of domestic bric-a-brac. Is the artist saying that her Mum was protected by domestic detritus? Or smothered and imprisoned by it? I’m still wondering. Thank you, Stephane E Conradie, for eye-catching and thought provoking pieces!
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming to the Investec 2020 Art event with me . I already have next year’s event highlighted on my calendar!
FOOTNOTE: INVESTEC 2019 ART Fair : If you enjoyed this series of posts on Investec 2020, please go to the archives and find my post on last year’s event; the post appeared on 20th April 2019 . Plenty of pics and commentary.

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PEOPLE & PHOTOGRAPHY https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


Part of the fun of attending a big exhibition is the opportunity to people-watch. I’ve noticed that visitors  often wear extravagant, eye-catching outfits and jewellery to this event. Whether they’re wannabe Trendies, art critics, fashionistas, or plain old exhibitionists I have no idea. I doubt very much that they’re artists. The days of flamboyant artists – think Salvador Dali with his sharp suits, hats and waxed moustache, – are over. My artist friends usually adopt the casual/scruffy/work clothes style. They’re way too busy working in their studios to be messing around with fashion statements.

Some people are working, and having a chat during a  rare quiet moment.

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Others are also standing around, but stuck on the wall:

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I spotted Mondrian socks. I want some!

 

IMG_20200214_131023_resized_20200214_040544267 (2)Delightful Minnie Mouse bows:

 

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And stunning jewellery. Or is it wearable art?

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I don’t recall seeing any hats other than these ones on the wall:

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I was admiring the  pin-striped suited gent’s textured pink socks  when I realised  the painting on the opposite wall  offered a mirror image, with the   pensive woman in an almost identical, abstracted  posture.

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Next I saw this man, working on an exhibition stand – he presented an almost ecclesiastical  image,  don’t you agree?  I think it was the thin white rim of tee-shirt at his neck, together with is clothing, lanyards around the neck, monkish haircut, and clasped hands that reminded me of a cleric.

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Then I discovered this quirky series of pics, a sort of strange amalgam of botanical illustrations and old sepia portraits by  Alida Rodrigues “The Secret History of Plants.”

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I was blown away by  a wonderful black and white series of figures, executed by  Sungi Mlengeya.  The brilliant use of negative space was dazzling.

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Tucked away in a corner I spotted these this lovely little blue retro radio. I particularly liked the knitting needle antennae – or are they ears? I’ve been a radio fan all my life, so I was enchanted by this exhibit. I have a feeling the little radio’s name is probably Max.  Whatever it is, top marks for inanimate personality!
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The next photo is a marvelous study in movement by Manuel Braun Alexandria on Stage II.
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Lastly I loved this quiet photograph of an offering of two walnuts, it exuded generosity and dignity.

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WATCH THIS SPACE, I’M NOT DONE YET! MORE TO FOLLOW .It was a very big art exhibition  and I was clicking away merrily.

P.S.  If I haven’t mentioned the artists names in some of the pics above, its because I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a pic of the display card alongside the work; in some cases I  looked but couldn’t find the card.

 

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MY FAVOURITES at Investec 2020 https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


This year, the textured items and the very colourful items were top of my list.

When it comes to colour, who could resist this vibrant display put up by Kwa Zulu Natal artists. The juxtaposition of the hot curry reds, oranges and yellows offset by the contrasting tropical greens and sky blues, screamed DURBAN at me. For northern hemisphere readers, Durban has a huge Indian population and is renowned for being Curry Central!

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And how about this Marion Arnold wool tapestry, Untitled, 265 x 377 cm, Rich colours somewhat reminiscent of a Pierneef landscape .

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And I would be remiss if I didn’t include this stunning display of traditional artist EstherMahlangu’s traditional Ndebele art work. Would you believe she uses a chicken feather as a brush?  My pic is a poor one, because so many viewers were constantly blocking my shot, but it’s the best I managed to get. Take a moment to follow the link: what a fascinating story.

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I enjoyed the next  work : textile wrapped fighting sticks and spears – I don’t know the title or artist, but I enjoyed the colours and textures

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Then I found this bold orange and yellow and black work, which ticked the colours & textures boxes very neatly. It was executed in leather and, I think, fabric; I was so enchanted by the colours and shapes, I forgot to take a pic of the signage It had a sort of snakes-and-ladders feel to it.

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A charming crocheted gecko caught my eye. I don’t want it on a wall in my house, but I thought it was fun.

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Appearances can be very deceiving. I thought the next exhibit  was a woven fibre work, but not so. Paper beads, mounted on bark cloth. What a surprise! Usage of very Africa materials.
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I enjoyed this set of 8 pictures, executed by a woman from West Africa, using natural fibres and seeds to create the textured effects.

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Artists come up with the most innovative ideas. Here’s a work, executed on graph paper, in crossstitch. The shadowy images in the work caught my eye.

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I’ve saved the best until last. Just look at the texture in this work. It had a lush, rich texture, akin to velvet turned into shag carpeting. I was fascinated. When I drew closer to the work I was stunned to discover it was composed of … wait for it … “toothpicks in polyeurethane sealant in pine wood frames” by Chris Soal. Talk about appearances being deceptive!
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Watch this space: more pix in a day or two. We’re not done yet – it was a big exhibition!

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