Saturday, 6 August 2016

From Deborah Stockdale in Ireland.
I've had some time to organise some background, and I had a phone chat with Robin Jay, who was Terry-Anne's partner for several years.  He lives about 100 miles away from me on the west coast of Ireland , and we have kept in touch over the years, so I was able to tell him about her passing and  get some background on how she came to live in Ireland. So these are the details, however the editors want to present it, maybe as a quote from me, who was her friend and art colleague here. My background: American/Irish, came to Ireland in 1977, after studying anthropology, and crafts. I've lived mostly in small cottages in Co. Donegal, where I reaised my family and I  have been a craftmaker/artist  all my life, now I do some teaching and working with groups.  My background is in textiles, I make traditional quilts, as well as art quilts, which are painted and stitched.  I also facilitate groups/ community projects in creating their own art textiles,and do public art commissions,  so in that sense she and I had parallel evolution of our art careers, though the teaching and community work etc. came later for me in the time frame.
 I met Terry-Anne here in Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal, Ireland, in the remote and rugged northwest of Ireland,  where I still live, in 1977.  She had moved here the year before, in 1976 with her partner, Robin Jay, who was also from Durban.  They had met in 1974 in Durban, when Terry Anne was teaching art at a school, and Robin was an architect.  Robin Jay's sister was the noted sculptor from South Africa, Berrell Jensen.  She had come to settle in northwestern Ireland through invitation of the socialist priest, Fr. James McDywer, who was the parish priest of this area in Co. Donegal.  As a social project to further promote the local art and craft scene, Berrell was engaged to create an art studio and she educated students in metal and sculptural work and jewelry making, printmaking and other crafts.  She set up her studio and living space in an old schoolhouse in a remote valley in Meenacross, Glencolmcille, with her young son and daughter,  and Robin, her brother, who came over after.  He renovated an outbuilding behind the school as a home, and Terry-Anne came to join him after some months.
   During their life there they were both involved in creating a homestead and small farm, keeping bees, landscaping , gardening and foraging.  There were plenty of rambles on the bogs and mountains, and fishing trips around the area. They also made home-brew beer and wines.  She was always looking closely at the native plants and animals.   She soon discovered  the local textile sources,  yarns and tweeds, which the area is renown for.  She and I shared a love of fabrics, and she soon learned to both weave and print on fabric. We would bucket around in her little car to larger towns nearby to get fabrics to print on and  to sew, and yarns to weave.   She sold her celtic inspired silk-screen  and batik prints and small tapestry weavings, as well as doing many small watercolour paintings of local buildings and landscapes in the local gift and craft shops.  She had good relationships with some of her older neighbours too, stopping in for chats and cups of tea, although generally, life in Donegal for outsiders like ourselves at that time was very isolated and socially restricted, so we had that in common: trying to figure out life in rural Ireland and how to survive the generally terrible weather conditions, and still stay happy and healthy!    Robin's architectural work took him to Belfast, where he had a small house that he used when he was working during the week, so Terry- Anne was back and forth to Northern Ireland for a period, before she returned to Durban permanently in the 80's..  I think those few years living in Donegal were very fruitful in many ways for her, I always remember her elbow deep in some project, in wellington boots and swathed in sweaters and scarves and an eccentric array of hats to keep warm and her throaty laugh, and her humour.  After she moved back to Durban, I didn't hear much from her but about 10 years ago with the miracle of internet we re-established contact and kept in least annual contact.  I was not the least suprised to hear of her many successes  painting botanical subjects, and I was very impressed with the mural work she showed me with the local community groups.  Our paths crossed for only those few years, but her curiousity and talent, and friendship always stayed with me.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

My first introduction to Terry-anne was really through my parents world of art and friends, a sort of extended family of like-minded people in Durban in the late 80’s. Visits to the African art centre were always more interesting when Terry-anne was there, sitting you down for a cup of coffee at the back of the shop and introducing you to an interesting Artist or showing you some new, inventive sculpture or intricate drawings. She opened up a way into that world that for me spoke of different places, people and communities. Some of them were magical like those prints of Dan Rogathe, who we would share long nights with turning the dining room into a print factory with expressive monoprints were created. Dan would tell us about how colourful his world was even though he was blind! Terry-anne had a confidence and ease with people, she made us all feel like anything was possible.
The first mural I got involved with was just for a day at the Valley Trust Resource Centre at Bothas hill. Its precariously perched position on the edge of the cliffs there, was firmly rooted by its positive and strong community spirit. It was another world for me, like a revelation, an introduction into the real world away from the confines of the art institution I was currently studying how to be an artist at. I became addicted to this new world, where people were so friendly no matter what race or gender you were, there was an amazing sense of pride through painting the murals on the walls, somehow awkward and out of proportion, but this didn’t matter, what mattered was the experience of doing this, of getting everyone involved. We then went onto Amatikwe village in Inanda, a wonderful centre run by Reverand Arthur Sibisi, where old age pensioners would look after orphans. Everyone helped eachother there, our favourite were an old couple who had a perfect partnership, she having no legs was in a wheel chair and he having no sight would push her around while she guided him. This was the essence of the centre, true community spirit, involvement and sense of working together. We managed to get almost everyone to paint, this was the main objective, even if it was just to create a few colourful dots on the wall. Terry-anne used pattern to empower people to paint, simple lines, colours and shapes which they could then build on. We managed to blend all the images, again sometimes quite clumsy and childlike, together with pattern and simple colour, creating a cacophony of images and dreams almost like giant tapestries which worked very effectively. Moving onto the Valley Trust New Health Clinic, which was a far more sophisticated building and larger project, we were briefed to create murals with the local community which would function as visual directories to many illiterate visitors to the centre. They therefore performed a very useful and vital function. It was a cold day up on the hills above the valleys when we met the two artists we’d be working with(who were sign writers from the valley, Khulekane Ncobo and Jabulani Mkhize.) We met in the resource centre and it was like meeting old friends, they were so enthusiastic to work on the major new project with us, there was fascination from both our sides about working together as we came from such different worlds. They invited us to their homes far into the hills for supper where we were treated like queens. Then we were joined by a couple more painters, Rose Hlope …. Who had come to us as they were excellent beadwork artists, their sense of colour, design and pattern was innate and worked perfectly alongside the more caricaturist paintings of Kulekane and detailed work of Jabulani. The murals were whimsical and full of character; babies with huge bottoms in nappies and big austere matrons adorned the walls. The building became humanised and humbled by the paintings and it was really then that we felt this is a wonderful artform and it really works. It was I think empowering for the artists and very importantly provided them with a good income.

Into the city!!!
David McQuoid Mason had managed to raise some funding through Lawyers for Human Rights and wanted the International Human Rights Charter to be painted on the Old Central Prison Walls in Durban, this was in 1992. As the Prison was earmarked to be demolished, this statement of Human Rights would therefore be temporary and not prose any major threat to the Apartheid regime. David had heard about our murals at Valley Trust and how they were excellent pictorial guides and so approached us to get a group of artists together to paint the prison walls. We brought the same group of artists from Valley Trust and more experienced well known artists from Valley of a thousand hills like Mandla Blose.  Rose Hlope had not even been into Durban before, so it was all very exciting.  Established artists, Thami Jali and Joseph Manana who had worked with Terry-anne before, were invited, as well as art students from the then called Natal Technikon. It was intended that the mural reflected a more diverse cultural spectrum. There were twenty eight of us altogether.
Before embarking on the project we had to get permission from the head Police Officer (in charge) of the prison who was a very friendly big Afrikaans man. He personally did not seem to have any problem with these two white ladies wanting to decorate his prison walls but did remind us that he was “just a small peanut in the big bowl!” I guess we discovered the true meaning of this later. We worked in mostly pairs designing and painting our panels carefully depicting each clause from the charter. Rose Hlope and ……were instrumental in painting the highly decorative borders and really helped to establish a sort of style or brand for this mural. Mandla Blose’s expressive, stylized masks and faces with their bold outlines also created a style that worked well for murals. We invited a Sangoma who had been hanging around to come and help Joseph(?) paint his panel on “Freedom of belief and religion”. He became a regular on the mural offering us all sorts of herbal remedies which really didn’t work. We also had a daily visitor who would hover around the far end of Walnut rd, pretending not to watch us through his tinted sunglasses and blond hairpiece. Quite a few of us artists working on the mural shared a house in Essex Rd, came home to find it looted oneday. Only later did we put the pieces together, when our “Sangoma” friend after one of his visits to our house accidentally left his book of remedies behind containing his police papers! How clever were the secret police in those days! These incidents did frighten us and confuse us, it seemed like there was a heavy undertone that we just couldn’t understand because everything we were doing felt so right and was really very innocent. This further enhanced our sense of togetherness, our bond. Painting the murals was a very strong teambuilding exercise, where we had to work together, learn from eachother, help eachother and ultimately stand back when we were finished and look at this giant fingerprint we had created in our city. Terry-anne held it all together with her tough spirit and made sure we got two of the prison guards to come and paint on the mural too!
Through Terry-anne’s connections with African Art Centre, she knew a very proactive teacher at Ogwini High school in Umlazi, Templeton…..We managed to get funding for a mural at Kwa Mnyandu station in Umlazi, with the idea to work with school students from Ogwini. We designed the mural with paper and pencils sprawled out on the wide station platforms. The students observed commuters, local interesting characters and trains coming into the station and through preliminary drawings of these we planned where certain images would go, up stairs, along platform walls, and through the main pedestrian tunnel. We engaged all the local spaza shops to provide us with refreshments and lunches, so that all the business remained there, through this the local community were interested and supported our project. The station became filled with excited children painting huge, expressive murals which depicted local funny characters, imaginative trains, sellers, commuters so much so that the local community were delighted and pointed out familiar scenes and characters. It truly enlivened the severe concrete existing station, giving it its own identity. It was a far more fluid and spontaneous mural which reflected the inventive skills and free spirit of the school students.
The attention the Human Rights Mural had received and the fact that the wall would be kept as a National Monument, was much bigger then we had imagined and it was after this and the success of Kwa Mnyandu, that we formally created Community Mural Projects. Realising the need to facilitate more murals in the city and ultimately create jobs for artists would be a major aim. As a Trust we could fundraise and approached the then mayor, Margaret Winter to support our Mural project in the city of Durban under the banner of ”Dream City Projects”. With her support we secured funding through Durban Arts and created the murals at Medwood Gardens and “The Blue Lady” near Botanic Gardens. On both of these projects we engaged artists we had worked with before. Joseph Manana created a black Adam and Eve on the walls of Medwood Gdns and Peter Jones’s painted fist broke through the old South African flag coloured bricks revealing the ANC colours behind. I guess looking back on this it was quite radical for its time, but then we just did it and got away with it, bribing city officials and sponsors with cupcakes with faces on which Terry-anne told them to be careful of because they would talk in their stomachs! Perhaps the murals beautified the walls with their exotic colours and managed to seduce onlookers into some sort of hallucinogenic daze allowing us to include all these subliminal messages. The “Blue Lady” involved a couple of participants who were volunteers at Botanic gardens and happened to be mentally challenged. This of course we celebrated by painting a huge naked blue lady hitchhiking on a public toilet in the middle of Botanic gardens road. I had also just read “Even cowgirls get the blues!”

Slowly approaching Freedom Day on 27 April 1994, Community Mural Projects obtained permission to paint the truncated flyover overlooking Warwick Triangle Market next to Berea Station. Funding was secured by the Bartle Arts Trust. After getting to know and interview the local market stallholders and community, it was decided that a group of invited artists by CMP would paint a giant matriarch to preside over and calm the chaos of the environment below her huge concrete flyover in anticipation of the forthcoming first general elections. “Nomkhubulwna” is the Zulu Rain goddess who brings fertility and growth and seemed a fitting symbol for the mural seen as most of the market sellers were women. Planning how to fit her giant form into the canvas of the flyover and incorporate the market in all its chaos and liveliness below was central to the success of the mural. Also including traditional herbs and vegetables like the madumbi, grounded it with local relevance. We got to know quite a few of the local woman selling there and their struggles to protect their produce overnight in containers where often rape was just a part of life. Their lunches prepared for us of polony and atchar chunky sandwiches kept us going while rallying IFP and ANC supporters poured out of the station, toy toying over the bridges opposite with us perched on high scaffolding wielding paint brushes. Exciting times!

To be continued!…

Ilse Mikula