(Travel with me to see “Heaven and Earth” by Ana Pereira de Vlieg )

I was asked once as to how one goes about painting the face of God?

I felt a response ascend from within the deep parts of me. 

“You paint God by going to the source of  creation. For me that means to paint nature, to mimic it as faithfully as you authentically can”

Not on a surface level but by “looking’ first, ‘seeing’ it’s rhythms and lines until you become ‘still’ and ‘know’ nature’s healing power to bring about a sense of love, peace and power. A beautifully richer sound mind than the one you had before you started to look. 

I recalled this conversation after attending the exhibition by four skilled, authentic, strong South African Artists who were chosen for a show called …

HEAVEN AND EARTH, showing until 25 November at

Curator, founder and Owner Jennifer Reynolds, together with gallery manager Amber Alcock, coined the title and threaded together a successful “showing” of artworks that soothed my soul as I walked into the gallery.

Three of the artists sat comfortably on some stools and had conversations around their own art making. The fourth was celebrating a birthday and I smiled at that thought. Catherine Ocholla’s artwork held her presence, her words in her statement gave insight into the tone set for this exhibition. 

Discussion around the artist process is fulfilling, their daily practice, challenges, joys and pursuits for future artworks exchanged. The audience listened with ease. 

Kristen McClarty shared about the process prints leading up to her final woodcut. I thought this contemporary feature would appeal to many who love reality shows, who are curious to see “behind the scenes.”

Her framed “process” prints are fascinating. Done on Japanese paper (Asarakusui hemp lace), that Kristen further explained..

“The paper is made using the Rakusui technique – using water to drop through the hemp fibres and pulp to create the holes in the surface. “

This fragile appearance felt contrasted by the subject of  a giant strong looking rock face. Such a metaphor of life and its ebb and flow of difficulties and joy. This “structure” as Kristen calls it, overlooks the village of Kommetjie, a place she walks past daily, The rock shapes could suggest figures, hence the title “The Watchers”

For me I imagine this Rock of Age to be a strength finder in our nature, a reminder to us of time and seasons that pass and the resolve of the human spirit to stand strong, determined, to keep watch and know that we live not alone.

The Rhythmic line and limited palette appeared harmonious throughout every artists works. Kindred spirits perhaps. Aesthetically pleasing to the viewer and no doubt any artwork bought would be an asset in any home. 

Laurel Holmes movement of water, her focus on a segment of the ocean reminded me of fractals and the hypnotic “feel good” feeling this can evoke. Healing to any soul as the lines repeat themselves and flow and follow a simple pattern of delicious shapes and forms that water can provide. It’s essence perhaps lies in the simple easy flow and fluid escape of presence.

Imagine this hung in your home to look upon every day if you do not have a chance to see the Sea. 

Perhaps being myself a plein aire painter looking at the macro and micro of nature is what drew my whole being to this exhibition.                                                                                                                                   When I read the name of John Muir in Karen Wykerd Art   Statement, I was excited, because he was one of the forefathers of this activity of painting outdoors. It was the means in which to share with others the beauty of what he had seen. And in so doing preserve forests and natural habitats to this very day. 

Karen’s brushwork seems purposeful and intentional. Little marks of value make up the forests she paints. One round canvas shows the forest taking up two thirds of the canvas and the city squashed onto the top level. Necessary of course to be there but not overtaking the natural habitat.  Each mark to me seemed sacred, meditative, receptive and repetitive. 

I felt a thankfulness of marks until the full surface of the canvas had been covered. 

On closer inspection the flowers are embroidered and it’s bright yellow weave threads further intent and emphasis on the protection of our habitat. Our very own contemporary John Muir in paint, and to imagine owning a piece of this artwork would make a historical leap.

Last and not least my gaze went to the artworks of Catherine Ocholla. Her art statement summarises for me all that I have spoken about. 

“Identifying ourselves in relation to nature through the appreciation of a simple cloud may serve to have the same effect…” Her work focuses on the magical quality of nature, painting the sky with no brushwork but rather a soft stroke of colour on surface. This technique produces a soothing atmosphere of spirituality to me that emphasises heaven. The road to the sea begins or ends with the subtleness of a rainbow, described by Jennifer to me beforehand like finding the pot of gold. 

Today, I felt I found my pot of gold. Perhaps called God-incidences. 

I live my life by following inner nudges. The syncronicity of the moments I experience and the conversations I have are felt in joy, whilst being “strung between heaven and earth.” This title credited to friend, artist and educational psychologist, Jill Lawton.

I pause to thank these artists for their courage. For their conversation through visual means, on an age old and contemporary sweet notion of hope and joy, experienced,  “noticing” some “hints” of infinity in heaven, on earth.