Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Watering Hole

Finally I have managed to complete, this 1.5m x 1m oil painting of Gemsbok (Oryx) "At the watering hole."

As an artist I try to concentrate on and paint about the beauty and wonder of all the good things that surround us. My love of nature and the abundant wild life in our country inspires me to capture these marvelous creations on canvas and share my joy with others.

I had hoped to have the painting finished earlier in the week ready for display in a local gallery prior to the Easter weekend. This however was not possible due to an incident on Monday evening that prevented me from finishing it till this morning.

When afforded the privilege of traveling abroad and people asked where I came from I would normally answer "proudly South African." However recent events in my personal life have changed that attitude and I no longer feel that sense of pride and belonging to a country terrorised by criminals.

The following incident is a stark reminder of the day to day reality that is the norm in this crime ridden country of ours.

Every evening my partner and I go for a walk along our beautiful beachfront to get out of the apartment and relax away from the work environment. We normally walk for about an hour then go home and have dinner before continuing to work or relax in front of the TV.

We were about 5 min away from our apartment on the way back when it suddenly started to rain. As we were so close to home we decided not to seek shelter but hurry on home instead. The sun was just starting to set and although it is a busy area with many locals and tourists out walking at that time we normally don't like to be out after dark.

Suddenly 6 thugs appeared out of nowhere, two were armed with knives. There was no demand for money or jewelery. Two of them threw me to the ground and my vision exploded into a million stars as as my head hit he pavement with a loud thud.

One of the thugs sat on me and started prying the rings off my fingers and the bracelet off my arm whilst the other held a knife to my throat and grabbed my cell phone and shoes that had come off when I hit the ground.

As suddenly as the attack started they disappeared and I lay barefoot in the rain on the pavement crying from the pain in my head. My only thought was that my partner was dead as four of them had attacked him and through the commotion I could hear them shouting that they were going to stab him.

Suddenly he was at my side to help me and though I could hardly think straight from the pain, shock and fright I was relieved that he was alive.

Of the four who attacked him one was armed with a knife and kept lunging at him whilst the other three tried to empty his pockets and throw him to the ground. As the knife wielding thug lunged at him he stood his ground and managed to punch him to the ground. This caused the rest of them to turn and run.

The violence of the attack caught us both by complete surprise and separated us, each to fend for himself as best he could. Had they surrounded us and asked for the jewelery and cell phone and whatever money we had on us we would have handed it over. There was no need for the violence. Muggings are commonplace on our beachfront with many tourists being attacked on a daily basis.

We had previously discussed the possibility of being mugged on our own doorstep and agreed that we would not resist but hand over the goods rather than risk our lives.

The perpetrators however were obviously intent on violently disabling their victim's before robbing them. As I lay across the pathway in the pouring rain a passer by stepped right over me whilst another went around me and hurried on without offering any assistance.

The numerous security guards, and police who normally patrol the area across the road from the Southern Sun Elangeni hotel, where the attack occurred, were conspicuous by their absence. Eventually my partner had no choice but to lift me up and help me home as we had no means of phoning for the police or other assistance. The appalling apathy of passers by, motorists and others who witnessed the attack leaves me in abject despair for the future of our country.

I know that every big city round the world has its share of crime and muggings but few can compare with the abominable statistics on South African crime.

On this the eve of the elections in our country, and it being almost a foregone conclusion that the ANC will once again sweep to victory, I am reminded of their appalling record of dealing with crime and violence. The acronym ANC no longer stands for African National Congress but is more commonly referred to as "Abuse (of power)
"Nepotism " "Corruption and crime"

The soccer world cup 2010 is just around the corner and I do not believe that the government is either willing or able to control the crime in our cities, ( and why should they when convicted criminals are amongst the ranks of their parliamentary candidates).

For a few days I was not able to do any work, my body ached all over and my wrist must have been sprained when I was hit to the ground. Though poorer for my ordeal I have recovered sufficiently to continue with my normal life but the mental scars will remain for some time to come. Sadly I am now counting the days till I can leave my country permanently and return to NZ.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Work in Progress 2

I was hoping by now to have this large Oil painting of Gemsbok (Oryx) finished by this weekend.

The reflection in the water is proving quite a challenge to get them exactly the same as the others.

In the photo I am working from the sun is glinting off the animals so I have to try and match that gleam in the reflection which I have not quite got right yet.

I suppose it would have been easier if there was a ripple on the water creating a distorted image then the reflection would not have to be an exact image.

The water in the desert oasis is very still so the reflection is almost a mirror image of the two animals drinking.

Fortunately this is not a commissioned work so I suppose it won't matter if I take another week to finish it off.