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.