Messing About with Paint


Oil on Canvas 60cmx50cm

A painting of rural South Sudan, Eastern Equitoria countryside, reminiscent of a Thomas Baines landscape.

Using the amazing skies over Juba to create the movement his paintings are known for, as well as colours that mimic his palette to communicate the harshness of the light over Africa. Prussian blue, Venetian red, crimson, emerald green and chrome yellow. “I only wish I could deem myself able to paint nature as bright as she is,” he wrote.

A touch of Cezanne in the sky and lightness of the trees.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

The sounds of the call to prayer floating on the breeze.

A bunch of missions from HQ in Juba Town, and my house looks like a refugee camp again, with the washing machine and bathroom coordination the biggest challenge. Good to have their energy and expertise available at this time of change.

My body is shedding water as it tries to cool down after my jog. First time in ages I have managed the long route. My ribs only a twinge. They have cut back the summer growth alongside the road, so the sweltering canyons through which I had to jog are gone. However, it’s overcast and muggy, even if the temperatures aren’t crazy yet, and my body is radiating heat.

Lots of singing from the PoC. Managed to get the answers out to the Auditors queries after hours of deliberation.

Cold pizza slices for dinner, a spot of wine, and lots of talk. Made me realize how special the hours we spend with each other talking, joking and working as a collective group are. Rather than being alone with thoughts, ideas and worries. We share all of that, every minute, all the time and, more importantly with honesty.

Riots at UN House. Friday mischief.

Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Island Adventures

Dew drops glistening in the morning sunshine. First rays of sunshine waking the silent forest. Flowers of gold. Rivers of silver foliage. Above Simola, the contour path allows for easy walking, restricted by our unfamiliarity of the routes and legs unaccustomed to the hills.

Alongside the Old Cape Road, tin houses merge into the forest. Infused by the shadows of elephants. Paintings waiting.

Breakfast at Cafe Throb, where Polly is allowed on the deck. The service, friendly and the food, invitingly moreish.

Next to the studio, a new Dallas Smith art gallery has opened. With the studio, the first part of the Harbour Town district will have four galleries. Each one, with dramatically different styles.

Lunch at 34 South, for their $3.00 special, of gurnard espetada. A colorful skewer of fish chunks, lemon and peppers. The fish was over cooked which was disappointing. Service was friendly if slowish. Not unexpected given that the tables were packed. To accompany the free glass of wine, we selected bits of sushi as well as an Ernie Else Chenin. Sitting at the waters edge, on a stunning early summers day, there was the concern that we would never leave.

Low tide and calm seas found us charging through the Knysna Heads, riding the swells in search of whales. The passage through the Heads is perilous to the ignorant, as the sudden thrust of the boat diagonally across the entrance and around a rocky outcrop proved. Exhilarating! The whales, elusive, giving us short sightings as they were moving quickly in their family groups.

Wet walk on the beach at first light. The sun hidden by leaden clouds so at odds with the pink sunset. Easthead for breakfast looking out to the Heads, and the seemingly gentle swell.

Discussions with the architect and spacial designer for the apartment and studio. Ideas tossed around within the constraints of practical realities. A journey started.

Quick lunch with Dad and Mary before an easy drive back to the vineyards through the Robertson valley, still resplendent in the last of the jacaranda flowers.

A special time, with special friends.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Evening, still hot in Juba Town, after a sweltering day. Generators, gasping for breath in the heat, buckling under the additional aircon demands. And, summer isn’t even here yet!

The full moon, ducking out from behind clouds forming into thunderheads. Before they loose interest and whither into puffs of candy floss. The hill behind UN House, wreathed in smoke from a dozen fires, and dust – suffocating – hangs in the air.

Wind stirring mischief.

A commissioned painting of Frangipani flowers. There is a tree outside the house I pass each morning when I go out for my jog, and after the rain has cleaned the dust from the air, it gives off a slight perfume. The Impala lilies are also flowering again, which I included in the composition to locate the painting in South Sudan.

Overcast and quiet, on a ridiculously early morning. A few noisy crows, the odd vehicle and the distant sound of singing. Drums vibrating the air.

On the drive through Juba Town, traffic lights were working, and people were actually stopping at the red lights! Traffic flow, thrown into chaos, worse than before.

Fireflies dancing at the window screen.

A bunch at the house to sort outstanding issues, fueled by a range of cheese Eddie had brought from the UK. Stilton with apricot, Shropshire blue and Sage Derby. Bougette and laughter, washed down with too much wine.

Paintings packed, the coffee machine and linen cleaned. Time to head back to the vineyards and the studio for a week.

Messing About with Paint

Frangipani and Impala Lilies

Oil on Canvas 40cmx30cm

A commission piece of Frangipani flowers.

There is a tree outside the house I pass each morning when I go out for my jog, and after the rain has cleaned the dust from the air, it gives off a slight perfume.

The Impala lilies are also flowering again, which I included in the composition to locate the painting in South Sudan.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Sky growling. Lightning in joyful abandon. Rain on the iron roof. Air flavored with freshness.

Sheets in the wash as I managed to catch my finger on a staple that was sticking out of the mattress somewhere. The amount of blood disproportionate to the cut.

Somehow, I need to settle my restless mind and sleep before another demanding day, where I have staff who are fearful as war rages in areas where we are trying to keep access open for humanitarian operations.

Chinese evening at the house. The food good, with a variety of dishes from the impossibly hot to prawns, lamb and chicken. Surprisingly for me, was that one of the best dishes was a mushroom and chicken soup with lemon grass and ginger. Definitely not boring and my sinuses, fabulously clean!

A gentle afternoon at the river. It’s been ages since I was there, and as always the flow of the river is mesmerizing. The best part was I met Echo. A small, whippet like, white and brown dog.

Long queues at the petrol stations creating havoc with the traffic. A new industry has been created with people looking after, and moving, cars in the queue. You drive to the end of the queue, leave your car with the keys in it and then catch a boda-boda, or walk to work. Guys run up and down the queue moving the vehicles and phone you when your car is near the front. Police are monitoring the refueling to make sure that no one fills containers for resale, clamping down on a new addition to the black market.

Walk at first light, with the odd jog to the edge of painful ribs. My planned painting discarded in the beauty of the sunrise, chasing the lingering storm clouds. Turning the wet cast iron roofs into mirrors of magic.

It’s far too late for me. Necessary discussions on security issues, how to save the world and the relevance of Micky Mouse in the context of South Sudan?

I did get to spend an hour at the River Nile sorting out another multi-million dollar contract against the backdrop of war and uncertainty.

The wall outside the prison has been painted a pale yellow, with grey for the pillars. A colour scheme taken from the South Sudan coat of arms, and being used for the walls of all the ministry offices in Juba Town. The wall around our office looked terrible in comparison and is now being transformed into a brilliant white space. At least, until the first dust storm.