Craft in Middle of the Desert
Yesterday we travelled through a dry, desolate part of South Africa’s Northern Cape. When not touched by the life giving waters of the Orange River and the many canals that flow from it, the countryside of this region almost instantaneously reverts to desert.
Seen from the comfort of our car we marvelled at the beauty of the flinty granite mountains and sandy red terrain broken only by grey bushes, tufts of grass and the (very) odd goat or sheep. I would hate to try to make a livelihood here – breathtakingly beautiful it certainly is but to me there seems little else to keep body and soul together!
When we pulled into a town (well sort-of – it’s bigger than a village) called Pofadder (Afrikaans for ‘Puff Adder’ and believe me I’m sure there are quite a few lurking!) we came across Sidney.
Sidney has a plot of land opposite the filling station laid out with row upon row of beaten metal figurines, models and works of art.
He told us how he and a group of fellow craftsmen collect scrap metal from wherever they can – old containers, bits of broken down cars, machinery, sign posts, whatever they can find and which they then beat them into material they can use for their artwork. This they display on this plot of land and sell to passers by.
The different styles and subject of work on display showed the broad range of talent in this group, who with little formal training and limited education are producing stunningly beautiful work. The support and encouragement they get from each other is clear not to mention the motivating factor of providing for themselves and their families!