Machine in the Garden
Across Pretoria stretches the magnificent Magalies mountain range. Allen and I often run or walk a route on the section that we can see from our apartment, the section stretching from the quarry next to the N1 highway to the Wonderboom Nature reserve. We see it undergo periodical changes. One afternoon before we set out, we saw a glowing red spot and smoke rising from golden dry grass. As the wind was only slight we could venture in to get a closer view of smouldering dry foliage. After the fire the landscape was transformed into shades of black and pinkish stone, exposed as they had not been for some time, black stick lily or “Bobbejaansterte” protruding from amongst warm stones. We feel safe and at home on this mountain. During one session of photographing Allen, dark clouds drew and small hailstones almost drove us under an overhang, scribbled with tippex by highschoolers.
Some time ago, probably just before the previous election, I had a dream of a expansive piece of golden fabric, hanging from a ledge, blowing in the wind, and I felt the urge to climb up it, grasping the folds, with expected difficulty. The way the golden fabric shone in bright sun light was entrancing, like a golden waterfall. I set out to recreate this waterfall on our beloved mountain with golden fabric, draped over the overhangs. Allen fought against the wind to control the golden drapery reminding me of my struggle with its folds in the dream.
This series can be considered a tribute to the Magalies, a celebration of its rocks, plants, and occasional inhabitants, human and animal. The Golden “dodder”, lichens, trees and charred grass. The countless hours we spent, gazing at Pretoria CBD in the grey distance against ever changing backdrops. Perfectly parallel to the stretch lies our apartment building. Throughout the day, I glance up from my easel and look out the window at the mountainside. Some late afternoons I look back at the building from the mountain top. A trans-seasonal back-and-forth. I often ponder the future of its state and accessibility and that of many places we are currently free to roam.
Image: Courtesy of the Artist