Messing About with Paint

Turquoise

Oil on canvas 150cmx90cm.
(From a photo by Hesta)

The joy of painting on a large canvas, my hands cramping from the extra work.

From the cupboard, the box of crazy Ferrario paint (Zinc yellow, Monaco madder, Green earth ancient, sepia, Zinc green, Turquoise, Copt motun, Paris blue.) bought as a lot in England a dozen years ago, adds its own inspiration

The turquoise colour finding its home in the painting of Dwarsriver. A flash of Cézanne?

The first of the spring Watsonia’s demanding a place in the painting. The pink flowers echoing the pink in the rock formation.

Detail
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Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Unexpected days filled with sunshine. The braai a must, and an excellent foil to Terry’s cauliflower and bacon tart. Doolhof shiraz, living up to the hype. Rich and spicy.

Francolins in the garden, churning the yellow flowering perennials. Camellias in full bloom. Pink and red brilliance amongst the green foliage. The winter garden starting to stir as thoughts of summer increase with the longer daylight hours. Slow release fertilizer to provide nutrients.

Clos Malverne for lunch. Flavours more subtle in their new menu, with a few favourites (oxtail in a philo basket) sandwiched between a very good Thai mussel dish and tender Springbok venison. Thank goodness Terry was driving!

On the easel, a painting of Dwarskloof. The joy of painting on a large canvas, my hands cramping from the extra work. From the cupboard, the box of crazy Ferrario paint (Zinc yellow, Monaco madder, Green earth ancient, sepia, Zinc green. Copt motun. Paris blue.) bought as a lot in England a dozen years ago, adds its own inspiration.

The A-Team from Knysna blew in with the rain. Terry’s stunning ox-tail perfect to try Craig’s new Black Rock (excellent) and Radford Dale Nudity (soon available at Woolies. A ‘must have’). The label is classy, the wine (without any sulphites added) doesn’t have the complexity of the Black Rock, but it’s close.

The Stable’s Restaurant at Vergelegen, the mountains hidden by a curtain of rain. For a non-calamari eater, the choice of calamari as a ‘taster’ with the first glass of wine was an inspired choice. A double baked cheese soufflé first course arrived with shafts of sunshine spotlighting the perfection of the new ponds and gardens. I didn’t need the roasted lamb main course, which didn’t stop the enjoyment. No walk through the gardens, given the weather, which was the only disappointment.

Diary of an Adventure

Happiness Index

At this time, as the world spins – seemingly, increasingly – out of control, being in the midst of a raging civil war in South Sudan is almost the norm.

One of the benefits of having a multi-cultural staff is that they bring different values to how life is viewed. One of these is Happiness Index in Bhutan, where Goss National Happiness is more important than GDP as a measure of the countries success.

Gross National Happiness, was brought to life by the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan, and a sophisticated system to measure all aspects of human life developed by the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Centered in the ideal that beneficial human development occurs when there is a balance between spiritual and material development. There are nine metrics and 35 quantitative and qualitative measures for the Index.

Far from being an isolated concept, on the 19 July 2011, the United Nations approved a Bhutan-sponsored resolution 65/309, titled “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development”, which was co-sponsored by 68 countries. It stated that ‘happiness is fundamental human goal and universal aspiration; that GDP by its nature does not reflect the goal; that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption impede sustainable development; and that a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed to promote sustainability, eradicate poverty, and enhance wellbeing and profound happiness.” (Wikipedia)

Importantly, it’s not about your happiness, but what you do to lift the happiness of someone who has a low Happiness Index.

As such, it has become part of our morning ‘Health Check’ in the UNOPS South Sudan office.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

In Juba Town there is a different war being waged. Walls and buildings in red, yellow, green and fushia pink, screaming from the blandness. Branding colours of the different mobile phone service providers being taken to new levels in their bid to attract customers.

The number of bottles lined up, an indication of a lively evening at the house? Dolmades (rice and herbs wrapped in vine-leaves), terrine de campagne, cheese, wine and bougette all a bit surreal.

World Cup soccer final day seemed an appropriate time for a small painting of South Sudan kids playing the ‘Beautiful Game’ in the dusty streets. From a photo by Takeshi Akamatsu, the coiled ring action of the shooter. Balanced perfection. The goal keep, a looming presence emphasized by the impossibly tall people of South Sudan.

Misty on my jog, the moon still full and bright in the early morning. Spiderwebs sparkling in the bushes alongside the road.

Managing Successful Programmes, part of our excellence change program, demanding on time and energy. Successfully passed the Foundation level. The Practitioner level a tad more challenging. Particularly as my tooth has decided to join the South Sudan rebellion. Cloves bringing relief.

Passport issues with one of our visitors from Copenhagen. Hours of discussion to ensure he wasn’t deported. The release of his passport a different drama.

Tough jog after a night of storms. An impossible amount of effort required to move around the Juba 3 loop. Made worse by one of the contingent coming past me at pace, going through soccer drills every other step.

Escalating tensions in the Equitorias prompting the decision to move our staff back to Juba.

Paintings wrapped. Nespresso machine cleaned. Laundry sorted. Time to end this adventure and head to the Vineyards.

Messing About with Paint

Shooter

Oil on Canvas 40cm x30cm
From a photo by Takeshi Akamatsu.

World Cup soccer final day seemed an appropriate time for a small painting of South Sudan kids playing the ‘Beautiful Game’ in the dusty streets of Juba Town.

The coiled action of the shooter. Balanced perfection. The goal keep, a looming presence emphasized by the impossibly tall people of South Sudan.

Over the years there have been a few paintings of kids playing Soccer.

Goal Keeper – Botswana 2005
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Bush Soccer – Botswana 2005

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Stone Town Soccer – Tanzania 2010

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Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Juba market, bustling with bright umbrellas shielding merchandise from the sun. Boda-boda drivers slouched on their metal machines, their Hip-Hop dress style creating their own tribe.

Boy Scouts, an unexpected normality, amidst the vigilance for speeding vehicles carrying sunglass preening Presidential Guards. New recruits, resplendent in new track suits, on their formation run through Juba Town. An indicator of military preparation for a new offensive in the dry season?

A surprise to find no water at the house after my jog. Fortunately I was able to shower at the office and they have fixed whatever the issue was.

On the easel a painting of a man tilling a field in Piedmont. The colours, movement of the grass and white wild flowers reminiscent of Cézanne.

Muddy, humid jog, with light rain falling between storms. Fortunately we managed to move the bags of the people who were staying here into their containers before the storm broke. The sky still growling and it doesn’t feel like its going to stop for quite a bit. No fun in the PoC’s.

‘The French Bougette’, emblazoned in lime green and yellow on a roadside stall outside UN House has opened. Loaves of bread, stacked like cordwood, replenished in the morning from a little white van sporting the green and yellow colours of the bakery.

Murderous skies on our way back from the office. Water pouring from the skies over Juba Town. The downpour such that the perimeter security wall at the office collapsed. With the rain, it’s fabulously cool. A few leaks that tend to drop cold water at odd times down my back, or onto my head keeping me alert while smearing paint about the place.

Going to blame the breaking of my last (of two, that have survived two years in Juba Town), red wine glass, on my 3am wake up and not on having too much wine.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Soldiers on the streets of Juba Town on the way through to the office. All friendly, without drama.

Passed a child running down the street with a tireless bicycle wheel in front of him and a stick to guide and keep it going. A scene from Dickens, that has crossed continents, culture and time.

Birds chirping in the reeds, the bright red bishops preening their finery. Purple summer flowers next to the road on my sunrise jog. A gentle ‘draffie’ to test my Achilles, after not using the magic blue tape.

On the streets of Juba Town, the taxi’s are sporting numbers in round circles, a bit like brands on cattle. Its part of a registration and route control system that has been introduced with revenue collection the key reason.

Sorted the washing and then put my next painting together, of the roses at the entrance pillar to the wine estate in Turin.

‘No. 40’, a gentle painting, full of the heat of summer, a loose style to represent the languid life of Italy. Colours clean, the sharpness of the light.

Eddie did a good chili con carne for dinner as we planned the move of the main staff into the temporary accommodation at UN House. Water the issue with cholera still around and the filtration system not operating yet.

A parade of people through the office after the hard decision to reduce staff numbers as we continue to hemorrhage cash in the midst of the crisis. Behind each. A family. A dream. The real tragedy being that its unlikely they will find work again, unless we are able to bring them back once the country settles down. Numbers on paper, in reality.

The tension and volatility at odds with the midday call to prayer carried on a cooling breeze. Butterflies drifting gently past mango trees.