The slipper orchids are very interesting plants. Real oddities with lower petals being fused to form the “slipper”. I have a number of slippers and currently have Paphiopedilum Leeanum in flower ( this hybrid is an old cross between Paphiopedilum insigne and Paphiopedilum spiceranum). P Leeanum is easy to grow and this really is a grea hybrid to grow.
This plant is young with only one flower but more mature plants might see up to ten flowers on a plant.
Anyway, no more other than the 100mm f2.8 diaphragm died and somthese were taken with a non L zoom lens. All are four or five stack images combined in Zerene Stacker.
Last week I posted a blog on some recently opened Stapeliads. These are interesting succulent plants from Africa, Arabian Peninsula and India. Now it is time to post a few recently opened orchids. No more words just photographs.
The first is Zygopetalum James Strauss, a rather interesting little plant with lovely flowers.
There is no theme for this weeks blog as I simply had a go at a few opportunistic subjects.
I have been working on photographing the life history of a butterfly called Charaxes varanes (if you follow this blog you will see the imagine in the next six weeks). I have always been fascinated by the head shields of the Charaxinae butterflies and they make fantastic subjects for portraits. A few years ago I bred a number of local Charaxes butterflies and got the entire life history on camera. Ch varanes is a common insect and I have bred it a number of times however never had the chance to catch the hole thing on film. The third and fourth instar head shields are spectacular. Here is the third instar portrait.
The second image that I worked on this weekend is that of a Stapeliad, S graduliflora. I blogged on these plants recently and discussed the fact that they attract flies to fertilize them (their foul smell attracts the flies, large flowers can be smelt from quite a distance, the smaller are inoffensive). This plant has never flowered for me. I received it from a friend who travelled to Springbok in the North Western Cape. This is a stack of 10 images stacked to obtain a greater DOF (using Zerene Stacker, Canon 100 f 2.8)
I have never quite known what a collection of frogs are called…a croak, a pond, a flurry? Who knows, anyway I recently came accross a beautiful young Natal Tree Frog (Leptopelis natalensis) and it allowed me to photograph it. Here are a load of uncaptioned photographs, enjoy..(all taken with the Canon, 100mm f2.8 macro and 430EX Speedlight)
I have, for a while now, been photographing butterfly eggs with my MPE 65. The most recent egg that I have done is that of the Banana nightfighter, Moltena fiara. This egg was found on the leaf of the host plant, Striletzia nicholai, here in my Wembley garden. It never ceases to amaze me how beautifully structural these eggs are with the ribbing to add support and allow a thinner wall.
These next two portraits of a fly and an antlion were great fund to do, just battled with the DOF.
Finally, a while back I noticed this mint Colotes annae annae (Scarlet Tip) male in the garden. I never thought that I would see one here as this is a bushveld bug but here it is feeding on my Pentis!
This Christmas holiday has been great fun chasing things and getting used to the MPE 65. I have always wanted to shoot those classic portraits of insects and finally for to this holiday. Here are three portraits and a less “macro” shot. Again these were all taken with the MPE 65 and MT24EX setup attached to the Canon.
As everyone knows, I am a butterfly person. In the last year I have been able to get upclose with the camera and been able to photograph the eggs of a number of species of butterfly. Here are a few of the more interesting eggs that I have photographed this year. What fascinates me, from an architectural and structural perspective, is the structure of the wall of the egg to support and strengthen the entire thin walled egg. Anyway, enough geek talk, here are the photographs,a few are re-posts but interesting nevertheless. Shot with the faithful MPE65 and MT24EX combo.
The first photograph is of Eretis umbra, the Small Marbled Elf, A rather drab little Hesperid.
The next photograph is the egg of the Common Mother of Pearl, Salamis parhassus, a spectacular Nymphalid found in the area (and my garden)
The third photograph is the egg of the Common Black-Eye, Leptomyrina gorgias a Lyceanid that breeds on a number of our Crassulas and other succelents.
The last egg for the time being is that of Orachrysops subravus, the Grizzled Blue, another Lyceanid and cousin of two of our rarest butterflies O ariadne and O niobe.
After a very wet Spring, the wettest that I can remember, it has not dried up so I am unable to post any recent butterfly (in field photographs). So, tonight I shall post a few more Salticid spiders, the first two are awating confirmation of a provisional ID of Veisella durbani, male (thanks to Galina Azarkina again!!). The others await ID and I have thrown in another weevil that I would love my South African ento’s to ID for me (v common here in Maritzburg).
Anyway, the photographs are all taken with the trusty Canon rig of MPE 65 and MT24EX twin flash.
The first two are of a very frisky Veisella durbani…
And here is a Salticid that requires ID
And a final weevil that also requires ID…
This last Friday I visited Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal to attend a Christmas lunch. While on the way up I stopped off at The Aloes Nursery and brought a few plants. I loaded them up, had lunch and then drove home. When I was offloading the plants I found that I has an unexpected visitor, a female rain spider complete with a large egg sac. I was able to keep her still and fire off a few photographs before putting here in a safe place to wait for the little ones to hatch.
Here are a few photos of her (portraits) all taken with the MPE 65 and MT24EX twin light set up on the Canon.
Yesterday I was wondering through the flowers at home and found a mating pair of weevils, the in copula shots were rather dissapointing however here are two, one taken with the 100mm f2.8 USM and the other with the MPE 65 at approximately 3x. Both shots are lit with the MT24EX twin light.
Some more photographs of Smaller Things As you all know I have been trying to master the MPE 65 lens that Canon produce and have been using it along with the MT 24 EX light system. This lens can get amazingly close and the 1,5 to 2,5X range is wonderful for smaller ants and things giving you reasonable DOF and a full image. Last weekend I decided to have a go at some ants and ladybirds. I was successful with the first and will have to go back to the ladybirds. Anyway, here are two shots of an ant on paper. I was chuffed with them.
But before we carry on I need your votes, please see http://photo.getaway.co.za/2012/03/01/salticid-red/# and vote for the AFROmacro spider
Ant shot at 1.5 x MPE
Again at 1.5x and with the MPE
And now for a few hoverflies. The first two were shot at 3x and the last at 1 x
It has been a while since we had a new exhibitor at the Kiln. Sarah van der Bank is not exhibiting at the Kiln building yet but her work is available on the Kiln FaceBook page and may be ordered directly from us.
Sarah is a born and raised Midlands lady. She grew up and was schooled right here in Howick and now lives in the Mkhuze Game reserve with her conservationist husband, Lance, and young son, Meryck. Here is a taister of some of Sarah’s work.
Like most of us at the Kiln, Sarah’s work may also be viewed and purchased through The PictureBox in Pietermaritzburg www.picturebox.co.za
I have, for a long while, been asked to photograph more Scarabs. The problem has been finding specimens to photograph. After much searching I found these. This post is extremely short. I just want feedback on the very simple “draft” photos of these four insects. Please ignore the imperfections.
Goliathus albosignathus, the Goliath Scarab. One of the largest Scarab beetles on earth and found from Limpopo up into Central Africa.
Eudicella smithi, Smiths Scarab. Another interesting insect from Burundi, Central Africa.
Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, male from Tanzania, East Africa
Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, female, from Tanzania, East Africa.
Three weeks ago Steve Woohall, Chairman of the Lepidopterists Society of Africa (www.lepsoc.org.za), organised a day trip to the Kranskloof Nature Reserve in Durban. He invited me along. I have to say that I have always been someone who would rather fly solo, I love being around people but when it comes to working on butterflies I prefer to work alone. I agreed to attend. I got to Kranskloof early and, on arriving at the car park, noticed that there were a load of folks there already. I recognised a few people (some work colleagues, others butterfly mates) and started chatting with them and new folks. I met Ryan Edwards, one of our environmental lads who had recently moved to our PMB office and is a very keen and talented photographer, Kevin Cockburn, Greytown based Lepsoc seniority very keen and knowledgable butterflier and super bloke to spend “bush time” with, Rob Dickinson, a very interesting and interested bloke who travels Africa in his professional capacity and has a very keen interest in all things small (have to add great company and no slouch with the camera!!), Steve Woodhall, “nuff said”, and a large group of interested and interesting people.
I made it known that I had little time on the day (as I had to study etc) and Steve graciously suggested that I walk ahead and do what I had to. We all drove to a lower car park and while waiting Rob D suggested that he and I move down to a nearby stream to look for damselflies. He noted that he has done very well there recently. If he had done better than we did in the 10 minuted that we were there then well done Rob. It was very rewarding with many damselflies being photographed.
After a brief period photographing the damsels we had to move off to the real focus, Charaxes karkloof karkloof, the Karkloof Charaxes. My old mate Wolter Kaspers had found them in the area 20 years ago and I had found them there regularly, most recently two years ago with Steve and Co.
This first part of the blog covers the walk to the Ch karkloof spot. The walk is short and very quick through typical coastal bush. Here are a few butterfly photos………
Pseudagrion hageni, Hagens Sprite. Photographed with Rob Dickinson at the Kranskloof Nature Reserve.
Chilades trochylus, the Grass Jewel, a very pretty little Lyceanid.
Hypolyceana philippus philippus, the Purple-brown Hairstreak. Rather lovely!
Euchrysops barkeri, Barkers Smokey Blue.
Colotes erone, The Coastal Purple Tip, Male. This has to be one of my favourite “Tips”
Colotes erone, The Coastal Purple Tip, female, feeding on Leonotis sp
Colotes erone, The Coastal Purple Tip, female
The next part………………part 2 covering larvae, Charaxes and things will be posted shortly.
I have, over the last 20 years, bred many thousands of butterflies and am always blown away by the metamorphosis of lavae through pupa to butterfly. I am currently breeding about 5 species. A while ago I posted the life history of one of our Hairtails (Anthene). Two days ago I discovered the larvae of our African Monarch, Danaus chrysippus aegyptius, feasting on my Stapeliads. After a bit of a look I found a pupa colouring up. I had great fun photographing the larvae, pupae and emerged adult. So, not to bore you all with test, here are some of the photographs.
Final instar larva of Danaus chrysippus aegyptius (The Arfican Monarch) feasting on the leaves of Stapelia hirsuta, a carrion plant from the Eastern Cape. The egg of this larva was laid, and initially fed on Adenium multiflorum (The Impala Lily) but went onto the Stapeliad when it has flattened the Adenium. The larva is brightly coloured as a warning to birds that it is poisonous.
Pupa of D chrysippus aegyptius colouring up. Note the wings, abdomen, eyes and antannae clearly visible.
Male D chrysippus aegyptius newly emerged from pupa.
Male D chrysippus aegyptius f. liboria, side view.
Male D chrysippus aegyptius f. liboria upper side.
Here in KwaZulu Natal we have two members of the genus Durbania. Members of the species Durbania amakosa fly throughout the Eastern region, from the coast right up to 2500m is suitable areas. They are also mid summer insects, emerging in November on the coast and later at higher altitudes. Our localised Durbania limbata is a bit of an anomoly, it flies in late summer. Mid March is the best time to find it. A few weeks ago my old friend Harald Selb visited us from Cape Town and Steve Woodhall, Clive Curtis and I spent a day butterflying in the midlands with him. I did not take him to the D limbata spots as I thought we may be too early. Instead we visited the forests nearby and Woodridge. A week later Clive and I visitied the old “Pennington spot” at Curries Post above Yellowoods. Clive wanted HD video footage and I have to say that, despite having bred the insect from larvae found on the rocks had never seen it live. So Clive and I visited the old spot. After introducing ourselves to the owner we walked over to the colony (with his over active dogs in tow…..anyone who has ever tried to photograph butterflies will know that a bouncing, loving labrador is not a great help when trying to focus on a butterfly at 20cm). We wondered around and saw very little apart from a very territorial Spialia spio. I checked the rocks and found loads of old pupal cases but no insects. After 1/2 an hour of searching I was beginning to think we were to late and then Clive saw a D limbata. That was it, over the next hour we saw loads. Along with the D limbata were what have to be the most frustrating butterflies on the planet to photograph, Stygionympha wichgrafi, they rarely site and when they do it is for a second or two. I have a hard drive of in flight escape shots!! I got one relaxing. All that said, I feel that if we had stopped with Harald we would have seen them. Pity but good reason for him to come up again next March. Here are a few photos of the day.
Spialia spio, the Mountain Sandman
Spialia Spio, the Mountain Sandman, underside.
Stygionympha wichgrafi, Wichgrafs Brown.
Durbania limbata, the Natal Rocksitter.
Durbania limbata, the Natal Rocksitter.
Durbania limbata, the Natal Rocksitter.
Clive Curtis videoing D limbata.
Clive Curtis doing his thing.
This month Tess joined us at the Kiln. A few of her words and then a number of images :
“Born in 1971 and raised in Durban, South Africa, I had an interest in art from a young age. I grew up next to two well know artists and teachers, Jeff and Pascal Chandler who helped to encourage my interest in the Arts. My father was artistic too and loved doing portraits & designing furniture.
I pursued art throughout my schooling and studied Interior Design at college where I was introduced to photography. This has continued to interest me as I enjoy spending time capturing the images for my art works. After completing my training, I designed wrought iron furniture and learnt a lot about proportion.
I moved to Zimbabwe in 1994, got married and lived and worked there until 2003 before moving back to Durban to work for Architects in the Interior Design field. At the end of 2010 my family and I moved to Howick, for a change of lifestyle and to pursue my passion for art full time. My inspiration is God’s Creation … seen through the love of a child or the beauty of a delicate flower. I capture these special moments in time and portray them in my art.”
“Conversation – 1010mm x 765mm – R 5700.00”
“Wheelbarrow – 400mm x 300mm – R 1250.00”
“Lantern – 250mm x 355mm – R 910.00”
“Burgundy blossom – 400mm x 305mm – R 1250.00”
South Africa’s largest butterfly, Papilio ophidicephalus phalusco, the Emperor Swallowtail, Life History
The largest butterfly in Southern Africa is, without doubt, the Emperor Swallowtail (Papilio ophidicephalus). The insect is found throughout the mist forests in Southern Africa (through into East Africa). In South Africa we have a number of sub-species, ssp phalusco is found in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal as far north as Greytown, ssp zuluensis in the Eshowe area, ssp ayrsi in the Northern KZN into Southern Mpumalanga, ssp transvaalensis in the Drakensberg and Wolkberg Notrh of the Oliphants river and ssp entabeni in the Soutpansberg way up there in the Limpopo Province. There are a number of other ssp including the nominate further North but we shall stick to ssp phalusco, the one that I know most intimately myself being an inhabitant of their range.
Before I carry on, this post shall not go into detail regarding the length and duration of the instarts (period between skin sheds), as this has all been documented at length by the likes of Clarke and van Son. Instead I shall discuss what I observed during the short eight weeks of the cycle from egg to adult.
My old friend Clive Curtis has always been very pationate about butterflies. We have travelled all around the province together colelcting and breeding butterflies and he is currently working on a DVD about South African Butterflies (www.safarivision.com). Part of the work toward this is documenting the life histories of a particular species in each family. Clive chose the most spectacular of our swallowtails (P ophidicephalus phalusco) as one focus species to breed. He captured a female in the Karkloof had her lay about 20 eggs and past 15 on to me to breed at home.
The Papilionidae (swallowtails) are spectacular insects. All South African readers will know the Orange Dog (Papilio demedocus demedocus) or Green Banded Swallowtail (Papilio nireus lyaeus) from their gardens. These two breed on, amongst other plants, the Citrus species such as lemon, grapfruit and orange trees. Our species, the largest of all, is a far more selective eater. It eats a plant known as Clausena anisata (known as Perdepis in Afrikaans, loosely translated as Horse pee due to its smell when you crush the leaves). Anyway, the first stage of the life history is the egg. Eggs are laid lingly on leaves of the foodplant. The eggs are circular, cream coloured and between 1 and 1.5mm in diameter. It takes the little larvae take about five or six days to mature to eclosure or larval emergence. Just prior to the little larva breaking out of the egg it darkens up. Upon emerging from the egg the larva has its first meal, the old egg shell. To gat an idea of size the larva is approximately 2mm long on emergence. So, to photos, the first photo is of the egg while the second is of the young larva eating the egg shell.
OK, after the little creature eats its shell it settles into life as a butterfly larva. This is a dangerous life, birds, robber flies and spiders want to eat you, wasps and flies want to sting you and lay their eggs in your little body and have their babies grow in you (while you are still crawling around and eating). You are not equiped with very much to evade these hazards, you cannot crawl fast but you can hide. From the moment that these little larvae start to eat they begin to look like a piece of bird dropping. From the first to the fourth instar they larvae look like a bird dropping. They stay on the leaves, eating, growing and shedding skin until, after approximately four weeks they reach the final instar that is different. Of interest is that, during the third and fourth instars, the larvae rest with a slight twist to their body (see the photos below). Anyway, here are photos of the second, third and fourth instars.
The final instar is very different. Rather then resting on the leaves they spend their sleeping time at the base of the tree or branch. This means that they no longer need to resemble something grim like a bird dropping and are supprisingly different with beautiful green and brown patches on the skin. The lumps and bumps are still evident (indeed into the pupal stage). Of interest, the Papilio butterflies have a defensive mechanism, a foul smelling structure known as the ostometrium that it pops out of its head when threatened. As said they smell foul and obviously tell all attackers that they are not a pleasant tasting meal at all. Below are a number of photos of the final instar (and a couple with the mutters with their ostometrium exposed)
The most magical of all butterly larval stages has to be larva to pupa to butterfly. After 7 to 14 days as fifth instar larvae they get nice and fat and lethargic. The process of change begins. They slip off and find a safe place to spend the next two or three weeks as a vulnerable pupa. The Papilio butterflies all have a girdle holding the pupa in place. Like most other butterflies they spin a silk pad which that they attach themselves to (by anal appendages known as cremaster hooks). They also spin a girdle which is a little like you undoing your belt and slipping it around a branch and the fixing it. It allows you the spend your pupal stage, head up leaning back. The pupa is splendid, rather like a twig with a bit of lichen underneath.
Finally, after two to three weeks (and longer during winter) the adult emerges. Not much more can be said of the butterfly, most people have seen it. It is safe to say, and an awful cliche, that, like most jouneys the destination is great but the route is enlightening. The path to adulthood of these beautiful butterflies is full of risk. The response is a wonderful evolutionary result where larvae and papae are beautifully cryptic. Below are shots of a freshly emerged male.
Anyway, I must conclude by saying that if you want to see these butterflies, it is easy. All you need to do is get into open spaces within the mist forests on a sunny day in Summer (peak in November/December and again in March/April) and you will see them flitting around. An old trick is that they love the colour red. About 20 years ago I purchased a car for its colour, a bright red VW, and it was perfect to attract Papilio butterflies (especially P ophidicephalus and P euphranor) to come closer.
There has been silence from my side as we all dashed off for Christmas at my parents home in the Hogsback in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. As usual with my visit to Hogsback the trip would involve time on the bicycle and as much butterflying as possible. The main focus butterfly wise was to find a number of endemics, some of which had neve been photographed. These included Penningtons Opal (Chrysoritis penningtoni), Dicksons Copper (Aloeides dicksoni) and the Gaika Sylph (Metisella syrinx). Added to the list was as many photographs of the Amakosa rocksitter (Durbania amakosa amakosa) as possible to compare with our local insect as well as the one that I discussed in my last post, from the Bushmans Neck area.
The drive to Hogsback was long and hard. As we approached we were greated by a massive thunder storm that was followed by a day of soft rain and cabin fever (me on holiday needing exercise, Tracey wanting to get out and three little girls). It was good though as it gave us time to spend time with my folks, sister Leonie from Cape Town, other sister Nikki and her husband Rod and their little ones over from Kansas. On day two we sis see sunshine for a few hours and I dashed out to a local wetland to look for Satyrids.
On arrival I found a few specimens of Serradinga clarki, they are very difficult to photograph as they flit around all over the place rarely landing and when they do it is in a clump of grass making taking a photograph very difficult. After a few unsuccessful attempts I decided to wonder up a rocky ridge and to my supprise saw a skipper flitting around the rocks. After a few minutes of following it around I was able to get a few photographs. There were a number of the little beauties flying around enguaging in aerial battles.
I was a little confused with the ID of the skippers however Ernest Pringle and Torben Larsen both agreed that they were Tsitana tsita.
Shortly after seeing the skippers I noted a small dark butterfly flit onto a rock. Immediately I knew that it would be a rocksitter and there it waqs, a small male, a bit ropey but I was chuffed to find that they were in the area and immadiately started looking for more. After an hour I had photographed approximately 10 males and a female. They are smaller than the Drakenberg and Natal subspecies and lack the orange dital markings on the other two. Compare the photographs below to those from Bushmans Neck (previous post)
Durbania amakoza amakoza male (The Amakoza Rocksitter)
Durbania amakoza amakoza female (The Natal Rocksitter)
The next two days were wet and one was Christmas so we spent a very over indulgent day at Coombe Dingle. The 27th December was to be a good day, or so all the weather web pages said, so we planned an assault on Gaikas Kop to try to get the rareties. We woke up early to a breezy, overcast and chilly day. I knew that the Chrysoritis colony that we were to visit was on the protected slopes so was fairly confident that we would be out of the wind and that we should be successful if the clouds broke. The climb is short and pretty hard but the flowers over December are wonderful. Various species of Watsonia (in particular W pillansii with the odd white form popping up in the patches or red) and the robust Kniphofia northyi were to be seen. It was very strange that the Proteas, once so abundant on top and on the slopes, were in a very bad way with huge patches having died. I climbed with Tracey (my wife), sisters Leonie and Nikki and brother in law, Rod and they were most shocked when, upon reaching the top I told them to walk half way down the other side to the colony. Gaikas Kop is an amazing place. It is flat on top and obviously collects a lot of water as whenever I have visited the sides of the hill seep water all over the place. On the way down to the colony I saw a small Lyceanid butterfly flitting around. It turned out to be Orachrysops nasutus nasutus, a fairly widespread cousin of the rare O niobe and O ariadne (I posted about this butterfly a few posts back). It was a female and I was able to get a few photos, one is attached.
Female Orachrysops nasutus nasutus, the Nosy Blue
We got to the Chrysoritis colony, it was shielded from the wind and the clouds did break up giving us windows of opportunity to look for the illusive little butterfly. I found them at the spot way back in 1993 and, since then, have visited on a number of occations either on my own or with Alan Heath and Harald Selb. Every time that I have visited I have seen them. Even my father, Bruce (not a butterfly person), has been up there on his own and collected a specimen for DNA analysis at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard). The 27th was different. I did not see a single specimen. Sad but that it how things go and I will have to return to photograph them. I did however find a lovely fresh female Serradinga clarki whose wings were still floppy. I got some great photos of her before we left.
Serradinga clarki (Clarks Widow) female
The walk down is through Thamnocallamis bamboo, a bamboo endemic to the higher slopes of the Southern Drakensberg and the Amatolas. This bamboo is the foodplant of Metisella syrinx (the Gaika or Bamboo Sylph). As soon as we got into the bamboo we saw the butterfly. It is a beast to get close to and photograph as the hillside is steep and strewn with boulders and the higher bits of the bamboo very difficult to access. After unsuccessfully chasing a few I finally got one to play the game and sit for a short period, shot enough to get two shots but to short to get an upperside. One of the two is attached.
Metisella syrinx (The Banboo or Gaika Sylph)
Things have been pretty wild for the last few weeks getting the Agric Hall going anf people have been asking me whats happening for December. Well December is here and the first person who will be in for the period Dec/Jan is Steve Bailey. Steve is an award winning Eastern Cape based photographer. A brief bio follows as do a number of photographs but please visit Steve site www.stevebailey.co.za for more information.
This December we hope to see Allen Hallett return to the Kiln after a very successful exhibition in Gaborone.
An now a brief bio :
“Steve Bailey was born in Liverpool, England and moved to Southern Africa when he was 10.
He has always had a passion for Photography – eventually studying Graphics/Photography, obtaining a City and Guilds Diploma in Graphic Reproduction.
He spent 25 years in Zimbabwe before moving to Cape Town, South Africa. He is now resident in Bedford in the Eastern Cape”, and a few photographs…..
A few weeks ago University of Natal art student, Sharon Weaving, approached Fran to use the Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers Market as a venue for the examination of her work. So, for the next week the Kiln is hers and her examiners. Next Saturday we will be back in and her work will be on view along with ours.
So, before I post photographs a short blurb on Sharon….
“I have always been passionate about art and craft. Whether ceramics, beadwork or knitting I find that creating with my hands is exciting, fulfilling and therapeutic. My passion stems from my Mom’s love for all handcrafts and the enjoyment she derives from experiencing a new craft and passing on her knowledge. I am excited to hear about the activities of new craft movements currently on the go. These are worldwide initiatives motivated by like-minded artists / crafters, young and old, encouraging people to appreciate all that is handmade. I think this is wonderful as these movements promote the ‘funky’ aspects of craft, and how contemporary art and craft can be used in development, activism and therapy. I believe that art and craft are such an important part of life and should be promoted as such.
I was first introduced to ceramics by attending underglaze painting classes which later progressed to running a ‘ceramic-painting’ studio from home. My passion for ceramics continued and I decided to study a BA (Visual Art) at UKZN, followed by Honours and Masters majoring in Ceramics. I started hand-building with porcelain in my Honours year, demonstrating an exploration of texture and translucency in my work. My ideas progressed further with the piercing of the vessel surface to create shadows.
The casting of shadows continued into the body of work that I now present. I started making geometric structural forms which were dipped in paper porcelain and fired to 1200˚C. The fired structure assumed a soft, organic quality in its slumped state which I found appealing, and continued to play with this element of ‘chance outcome’. Whilst working with these forms I discovered that I wanted to achieve a greater organic quality of form and decided to make the frames myself to have more command over the final product.
Countless test pieces later I discovered the composition of material, process and clay body suitable to create my recent works. Each piece is individually crocheted, dipped into an ‘engobe’ and dried over a mould. Once dry, the pieces are fired to 1200˚C, burning away the crochet cotton , leaving a hollow, fragile, porcelain structure each of which casts its own unique delicate shadow. I am very excited to have been able to use an age-old craft such as crochet in an unconventional manner thus illustrating that there is a place for time-honoured crafts in contemporary ceramics and other art forms.“
Again it has been a mad week with exams, work and getting the new gallery ready for opening. That asside Fran and I are nearly there and ready to have the gallery open next Saturday (the 12th). We will be sharing a room with Senqu at the Agric Hall in Howick.
To date the people exhibiting will be : Author and photographer Steve Woodhall, well known nature photographer and author Roger de la Harpe, Aritsts Denise Beuck and Andre de la Rosa, photographers Toni le Roux, Fran Simmons and myself. We are hoping that sculpture Allen Hallett will confirm as will Peter Wickham, Doug and Deryck Morton and Cheryl Logan.
Tony Thomson, local Amber valley resident and artist, will man the gallery and paint during the week.
This gallery, like the one at the Farmers Market, has been established as a showpiece for local artists and photographers. You will not find a selection of Midlands material as diverse and unique as this anywhere else so stop off and have a coffee, say “Hi” to Tony and have a look. I am sure that you will like what is to be seen.
And now some photos of material that will be on display (apologies for those who follow my blog as a few of these will be repeats).
The first photograph is Toni le Roux’s. Toni entered this into the “Natural History” category of the N3TC competition this year and won the category!!
Next we have Steve Woodhall. Steve is the president of the Lepidopterists Society of Africa and author of a number if books on butterflies (all of which will be available at the Kiln)
The Kiln Gallery at the Karkloof Farmers Market and soon to be at the Howick Agricultural Hall as well.
I have not posted for a while, mainly because I have been away in the Northern Province and further working rather hard with Fran and Doug getting our new venture going. The new one is another Gallery. Doug and Fran started the Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers Market and two months into it we were approached by Laurence Hancock, a local farmer and business man, about establishing a permanent exhibition at the Howick Agricultural Hall. This was to be open 7 days a week which would help us enormously. Anyway, we have been getting printing done, sorting out painting and trying to employ people. Hence no posts.
Oh, and I forgot to add, if you have not been to the Kiln FB page then do, and like it and you will be kept up to date with all the goings-on. See http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Kiln-Gallery/192143797488771
The new gallery opens its doors on the 12th November so we hope to see everyone there!! Anyway, to close off a few pictures. Bye!!
We at the Kiln have wanted to open for 7 days a week for a while. Last weekend we were approached by a local businessman who offered us space in his property on a tourist route. We are talking to other exhibitors to join us and we have a number of exciting new people who may join us. That is all for this week as there is a lot of work to be done. So, cheerio and here are a few photos that we hope will be housed at the exhibition, if they are not there then they will be at the Karkloof Farmers Market.
Ten years ago my wife Tracey and I purchased a beautiful little bronze warthog as a gift from the family for my father in law, Dave Hoidge’s 60th birthday. It was just like any naughty warthog, brown, tail in the air and full of attitude. It was the creation of Allen Hallett. The Kiln in very proud to have Allen exhibit for October.
Details of Allen and his work may be found on his web site www.allenhallett.com . A little about Allen… and then some photographs of his work..
“Allen grew up in the highlands of Kenya which were at that time teeming with Elephant, Giraffe, Buffalo and all the other plains game. His school holidays and any spare time were spent either hunting or fishing in the surrounding areas and it was at this time that a deep interest of Africa’s Wildlife was nurtured.
On leaving school he moved to South Africa and joined the Natal Parks Board and went on to become a senior game ranger in the wildlife reserves of Zululand and had the opportunity to study Africa’s wildlife first hand. During his years in the African bush he had numerous encounters with dangerous game. It was while on a photographic safari in the Okavango Delta that Allen and his party’s boat was overturned by a “rogue” Hippo. They were very lucky not to have been seriously injured and have lived to be able to recount the story of their close shave with death!!
Allen has also undertaken several commissions throughout Southern Africa and many of his edition pieces are in private collections throughout the world.
Allen’s reputation as a wildlife artist is rapidly growing internationally, with successful sales at Christie’s of London.
He was recently selected by the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation to contribute a piece of his work to be auctioned by Christies’ along with several world renowned wildlife artists to assist the cause for conservation.
He now lives and works in the magnificent Natal Midlands, and undertakes many field trips to inspire his creativity.”