For me, painting is like storytelling; another medium to creatively put down thoughts. I started painting years ago, then when we bought our current house and white-washed the walls, I saw blank canvasses I was driven to fill. As with my first book, Return of the Mantra, thoughts born from time spent in Sudan and South Africa would feature in those canvasses.
Some of my first paintings hang on the walls of my writing room. There’s ‘Face in a Sea of Red’: thoughts of women in war torn places, living in fear of violence and blood shed, yet finding ways to foster hope in their communities.
There’s ‘The Drummers’. Drums feature heavily in my memory of South Africa in particular: the pungent smell of cow hide soaking in big barrels of water then being dragged out to dry in the sun, ready for making drums; the sight of the sangorma arriving at times of crisis, with followers playing drums, a soothing rhythm that instilled calm.
There’s ‘An African Location’. Not an actual place, rather created by memory with the licence of creativity. Big landscapes with vast valleys, where everyday chores involved long walks. I remember vividly those narrow tracks that wove a maze around the shacks of Kwaxaba location, the smell of wood fires and the trepidation of meeting a snake concealed in the undergrowth.
And hanging above my computer, ‘Face About Town’. Thinking about walking through the Indian market in Durban, the hustle and bustle, the colours and textures, I tried for a collage, using design to give the appearance of mixed media.
I often find the more I create, the more my mind ticks over. As it is now, at 1am, sitting at my computer in the writing room, the dark night concealing the view of red brick houses backing onto narrow alleyways. It’s quiet aside from the tapping of the keys and the computer’s soft whirr, and the padding feet of my cat that has stirred, driven by instincts to chirp at the moth safely out of reach…