Amy Shelver

“What has been the most significant defining moment and how has it changed you?”

“My life is Gestaltic. It is the sum total of all that I have experienced and all whom I have met and engaged. I try to live in the moment and let each moment define who I am right then. In some ways, this has made me a mutable - and thus undefinable - chameleon, but it has also allowed me to flow and adapt to whatever is in front of me. So, to answer what my most defining moment has been, I can only answer that it is right now. I am defined and shaped by the "now".

“If you could have been anyone in history, who would it be and why?”

I've always been attracted to Joan of Arc - perhaps it's my Catholic upbringing or a lust for the medieval and historical - but her powerful stance as a warrior woman, a renegade, her rags-to-righteous riches tale, her cathartic vision are all magnetic elements I cannot resist. I'm not sure if I would like to have been her, but for a moment, I would like to walk in her armour and feel her fervour.

Chris Bertish

Big Wave Surfer. All round waterman.

“What is fear, Chris?”

“It's just an emotion, Sandy, like any other. One can minimize fear with continual preparation and knowledge. And when you panic – DON’T PANIC!”


Duncan Stewart

When I think of Duncan, I think of Light.

Light is the very thing that united us as friends. It's what I see when I look into his eyes and engage with him. And it's what he describes as his feeling when he is in the arms of his God.

Welcome to the Barnard Gallery and to Duncan Stewart’s Watermarks exhibition. When I chatted to Duncan last week, we joked that if no one came to his opening, then we would quietly unite as Citizens of PE, and slink out the back door in pursuit of a long lonely night out, but that is not going to happen. Look at how many of you are here. Thank you for coming to celebrate Duncan’s incredible exhibition.

To understand and appreciate this incredible artist, I am going to fill you in on a few well-known facts about Duncan…


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He doesn’t look it, but he is nearly 40!

He is a father of two young children, Nicholaus and Sophie, and is, married to Natalie who with a bit of luck will last the evening out before giving birth to their third child.

He graduated from Natal Technikon in 1993 with numerous accolades and awards – studying graphic design, rather than art, because “graphic design is a real job!”

And it wasn’t until 2001, that he decided to fulfil a lifelong passion and study art. At the Lorenzo de Medici Institute, in Florence. It was a two-year full-time course.

It was in Florence that he met Natalie... And just be the way, Natalie is no art slouch herself. She is an authority in Renaissance art restoration…

After working in Florence for a further two years, during which time, he and Natalie got married in the south of France, because “they liked the romance of it” – they returned to South Africa, and luckily for me, to Port Elizabeth.

THOSE are the well-known facts, but it’s the lesser-known facts that I want to share with you. The heart and soul of Duncan Stewart.

Duncan must be one of the only artists I know of that only described himself as an artist after a sell-out show (his first) and TWO years fine art in Florence.

When I asked him why he never studying fine art in SA, he told me that it was because he needed to be completely alone and on new soil. He couldn’t rely on friends or familiarity. He needed to be raw. He needed to dig deep. He is a purist and he is brave. He couldn’t even speak Italian.

As you can imagine, an art school in one of the most revered cities in the world is not cheap. So when Duncan decided on his dream, he had to make some money to get there. So unlike most of us who would perhaps take out a bank loan, ask our parents, sell a few belongings, Duncan just decided to raise money by cycling from Jhb to Cape Town. So he asked his mates to sponsor him per kilometre and he set off with a sturdy bike, a good friend and some camping gear, relying only on the goodwill and generosity of farmers along the way – for their overnight stops. 11 days later, belly and soul full of food and wine, he managed to raise R15 000 for his trip. Duncan is not frightened of the unknown.

Jim Davies, a mutual friend of ours, has a Duncan Stewart family portrait hanging on his wall in JHB – and he had this to say about Duncan. “I met Duncan over ten years ago when he was taking pretty much any work he could get to fund himself for his studying in Florence. What a courageous move that was. To throw in everything to follow a deep-seated passion is special to witness. The pastel of our children is very special to me as it really does mark the beginning of an incredible journey of a fledgeling artist to realizing a dream and a God-given talent.”

And that’s the thing about Duncan. Once he locks his gaze and his heart onto a dream or a painting, he doesn’t stop until he gets it right.

You might have read that Duncan’s recent exhibition titled “2010 – FOOTBALL A dialect of hope” was critically acclaimed. His depiction of hope utilising charcoal, watercolour, acrylic, and sculpture is simply breathtaking. But what you won't know, is that Adrian Gardiner who owns and runs Shamwari Game reserve and Mantis Collection took one look at this exhibition, purchased the entire works, and then built a beautiful B&B to house his art. If you come to PE, you might want to consider staying at this beautiful boutique hotel simply called “2010”. Dedicated to Duncan. That is the power of Duncan’s work.

A far journey from that little boy Duncan who used to spend hours drawing on his mother’s cigarette boxes.!

When Duncan takes on something, anything, he immerses himself in that thing, idea, dream, so completely. He becomes that thing.

I am not sure if I am allowed to mention this but his next body of work is something to do with climate change and environment and instead of going to the odd talk or googling the subject in the wee hours of the morning, he actually journeyed to the highlands in Pakistan to research his project. He spent three weeks observing the melting of the glaciers at the base camp of K2. He left the safe shores of PE and headed into the unknown to feel and live the subject. I can't wait to see it. Because it comes from his heart.

And that’s what Duncan does. He heads into the unknown. Head first.

It’s impossible to talk about Duncan without mentioning his faith. Like most of us, he spent a lot of time searching for the meaning of life. His quest took him through the highways of pretty much everything –new age, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and then finally, after hearing a talk by an international scientist and theologian named Dr Louw Alberts he thought he would try the Christian God. True to Duncan’s personality, he prayed and asked this” : If you are real, do something inside of me. I need to know you are there” And he gave himself 6 months to feel it.

And for those six months, nothing was more important. True to Duncan's personality, he immersed himself into the Christian faith. He read the Bible, he went to church, and he waited for this sign.

It came on the very last day of the 6 months trial period. On the 18th September 1998, he woke up and in his words. I felt God. I felt the rawness of love and I knew. Since then, and after a two-year dedication at bible study, it is this faith and love that guides Duncan, his family and his art.

He says “I am able to do gods work through my art” He guides me and I listen to him. For me, Christianity means freedom and peace and light.

Watermarks is probably his most important body of work to date. It is a body of work that urges transformation by identifying the maker. It is about holding our lives up to the light, to reveal our own watermark, our own legacy with the question “who am I, and who made me” By using an entirely liquid process, these paintings and drawings had to rely on the flow of the liquids he used, revealing that no matter how hard we try to control our lives, letting go is always better. The unplanned route that liquid takes brings about the possibility of randomness and that is always exciting.

And this work is exciting. Give it time and give it space and you will leave the gallery wondering more about yourself.

I asked Duncan how he even starts a body of work like this, to which he replied.

"I listen to my heart. And then I act on it."

I first met Duncan at a wedding. I had been shooting a wedding and just before the main pictures, the heavens opened and we had to relocate the entire bridal party inside for the rest of the photos. I used a big brown ugly door as a background and I was hating having to do that. There was a little tap on my shoulder and I turned to look at Duncan – he said “the rain has gone and the light is beautiful”.. I didn’t waste a second – a shuffled everyone outside and managed to capture some sublime images. Later on, when I was catching my breath, I looked around for this person who had enabled them, and I found Duncan and Natalie sitting at one of the tables. I went up to him and thanked him, and then I asked him what he does to which he responded “I am an artist”

And that you are Duncan.
A magnificent, beautiful, extraordinary artist.
Congratulations on this exhibition.

Ethna Frakenfeld

Who/what is God?

Is all around us. There is no single force.

What does strength mean to you?



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If you were given only one more wish in your life, what would it be?

It changes day to day – today, it means celebrating health.

Are you living your soul purpose on this earth?

I feel like I have been given a second chance (after an illness). My soul purpose involves the intrigue of travel and space for new thoughts and dreams.

What advice would you give to a broken hearted 20 year old?

Get over it! You have to fall in love at least three times to find out your patterns. Heart break is part of the package.

Describe the first thing you do when you wake up each morning?

It is the best time to clear my mind and solve problems. Solutions always come to me in the morning.

Did you do anything different in your 40th year?

It was the closure of living dangerously. I had a life changing accident (as a result of that dangerous living) and it made me realize that there was more to treasure.

When someone asks you your age, what do you say and how do you feel?

I find it difficult to believe that I am 50! When my parents turned 50, I thought they were so old. There weren’t!!

Describe your life in one word?


Who are you and how do you define yourself?

I spent a large part of my life as an artist but I am continuously redefining myself . I am an artist and so much more.

If you have a spare 15 minutes in your day what do you do with it?

I go outside for some solitary time.

What happens when you die?

I must believe that there is more than a puff of smoke! Life has too much intensity and purpose so the journey must continue!

Hylton Nel

World Renowned Ceramicist. 

Hi, I’d like to ask you a few personal questions, if I may?

“Write whatever you want.  Seriously.  But please let's have a glass of wine first”

Jake White

Jake White

March 2006, Johannesburg

I found it interesting that Jake White never asked me to define “great”. It’s a word he uses frequently, he even described his life as great, but I guess it never occurred to him that he was being considered as such.

Here is a man who seems to have a warm circle of close friends and I would like to imagine that they probably close ranks and protect him against wrongdoing and wrath. Not that he needs it, or relies on it – his sense of survival is astonishing – beating the odds, finding the right path and doing the right thing have got him to where he is today, The South African national rugby coach, a job he has had for the last three years, and the person we are all hoping will inspire our team to win the RWC 2007. I observed how when strangers approached him, requesting autographs, shaking hands, wanting to chat, he had quality time for them, making each person feel comfortable and special. And I thought how lucky SA Rugby was to have an ambassador like him. Most corporate CEO’s would jump to have someone like him within reach.

And yet, every now and again, during the interview, I couldn’t help but picture a small, thin, wide-eyed 6-year old Jake White, being dropped off at Dale College boarding hostel for the very first time, feeling anything but confident. And it is in this tentative vulnerability, that his humility lies.


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And humble he is. He has never forgotten what it is like to feel raw, and its no wonder that his pet hates are bullies and spoilt kids. Even now, his intolerance of them is so strong, its tangible.

Jake is living his dream. He has rugby, the challenge, the strength, the passion and the fight of the game, so deep in his soul, it is staggering. When he talks about it (often), his eyes dance, and his whole body shifts into alert mode. It is impossible for him to talk about rugby lounging back. He is on the edge of the chair, waiting to run with the ball. It’s no wonder that when asked I asked him what happens when he dies, he replied, “You don’t need to ask – I would be playing rugby in heaven with my boys and my mates, of course”.

His parents were divorced when he was a small boy, and although he never said it, it must have had a profound effect on him. And so, in turn, his own family (wife and two sons) is his anchor, and his refuge, and when stripped of all the expectations of a nation and the fast pace of every day, he knows and loves that they are his core and his epicenter. “I want my children to remember me as someone who they could talk to about anything”. No doubt, they do. He is an attentive listener.

And so, what is great? For me, it is not about achievements, accolades, or even being the model citizen. For me, it’s about the light that shines from these fine people. And that strong light then shines onto other people, and gives them the confidence to be better that than they are, to believe in themselves and know they can make a difference. He must be a terrific coach.

Before the interview, I asked a few people what they thought of him - “Open, professional, dedicated, committed” were some of the answers. I would like to add one more – regular. He is the kind of person who you feel you can invite over to watch a test match, share a couple of beers, and talk about the game late into the night. He’s a guy with laughter in his belt, compassion in his heart, and courage in his blood.

It’s funny but I also got the feeling that in quiet moments, he probably still wonders how the heck he ended up as the national coach and I can see him characteristically shaking his head, looking down at the ground, and chuckling at how his life has turned out.

Joe van der Linden

Joe, three most important things to you?

My son, surfing and music.  I can’t live without any of them.

John Lombardo


What would you do with your last 24 hours, if you had a choice?

I would just be with my students. We wouldn’t have a traditional class. I might be tempted to include a life lesson, although I am not sure I want them to remember that as the last thing I said!

Why do you do what you do?

If you have a life of comfort, it needs to be used. There is a human duty to give back.

Karl Schoemaker


What has been your most defining moment in your life

Probably when I took my mother to the airport when she left my father, and I understood why. My relationship with and feelings towards my father went from bad to worse at that moment.

Why do you do what you do?

Because I love it. I love forcing people to see things through my eyes, and I love interacting with and capturing people forever.

Jake White

Laduma Ngxokolo

So since we last spoke in 2011, so much has changed for you. Firstly, what are you doing in London?

Yes, much has changed. Last year, I was invited by the London School of Art to embark upon my MA in Material Textiles. It came at the right time because I needed some fresh ideas, and to take my design skill to a higher level. And going to London meant that I could be exposed to international and future innovations. I am two months into it, and so far so good.

How are you settling?

Well, I am completely out of my comfort zone. I am a little chilly, and I am still finding my feet (or the tube, or the taxi!). I know it’s going to take more than a few months to really settle and find friends. And yes, I miss Africa very much – the familiarity and common ground that connects us Africans is very strong. But I am coming back so that makes it easier.

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Your business is going places. Maxhosa by Laduma is fast becoming a premium brand in knitting and design in South Africa and further afield. How are you managing to run your business AND trying to study?

It just takes some careful juggling. I have enlisted the help of my sister, Tina – she manages all the admin in SA. We are more like partners although I make the crucial decisions! She is totally reliable and trustworthy and she understands Maxhosa like no other. Because our products offer supreme quality, in design and textile choice, it’s imperative our team works together and is united.

Describe what happens from inception of an idea, to the finished product?

It all starts with an inspired thought that comes about when I listen to my intuition. I am naturally quiet, so it’s easy to access that necessary space in my head. Throw in the current mood; both external (the world) and internal (my state of mind), and then the latest beadwork trends/language and I then (hopefully) birth a theme for a new collection. I then spend hours on a mood board refining that idea/theme. Once I have got something, I then knit the first experiment myself. This is where things get messy and I often have to return to the mood board but out of that, I end up with samples that I then take to market. It happens slowly.

Your biggest challenge in your business?

Very definitely the production and turn around time. Even though custom-made designs will always take time, demand for my garments expanded so much last year, that supply couldn’t keep up. It’s a good problem to have but we need to focus on closing that gap. My designs are knitted in a factory in Cape Town and they work as fast as they can. I was tempted to have my work produced off shore, but decided not to as my products are distinctly South African and moving offshore would have broken that magic chain. We are so proudly South African.

How do you market your business?

I like to think that my products market themselves. I don’t employ PR or Advertising agencies, as that would insert another layer into my business and I want to remain as simple as possible. My business was borne because I saw a gap in the market: Young Black South African Men need and want their own homegrown label. Somehow, to me, jerseys made in England looked so wrong on our men in South Africa. I set about creating meaningful designs that spoke to our people, the textiles and colours radiating from Africa – a language and conversation in every garment. That is what makes us different. The fact that my market has expanded to men around the world, and now, women, means that I am doing something right. And I think that you if you work with honesty and authenticity, customers feel and want that. It’s my firm belief that customers don’t buy the product, they buy the story behind it.

I see that a few celebs have worn your garments?

Laughs – Yes, and that took me by surprise. I would never pay anyone to wear my clothing. If someone chooses to wear my garments, it’s because they want to and because it makes them feel good!

Tell me about where and how you source your raw material as I’m guessing it all starts there?

Definitely. I cannot stress enough, how important it is to work with quality raw material. I love and use mohair (it also comes from where I come from – the Eastern Cape). I am also experimenting with hemp, cashmere and wool – all local. The raw material then heads to a factory in Cape Town and is dyed and spun according to my design needs. It takes about 6 months for that whole process to unfold. Once the material is ready for production, the knitting begins.

Your current output?

We produced 700 units last year, which meant we reached our goal and expansion plan. I am happy.

I know that your overseas market is expanding. How so?

At the moment, we are 60 percent local and 40 percent overseas. I want to grow that to the other way around. My garments are perfect for the European weather.

When did you realize you had “made it”?

Sandy, I’m not sure that I have made it. So much talent surrounds me in London. I am continually humbled. There is still much to do and I’m looking forward to so much development going forward. There is always something to learn, to share and to make.

What did you want to do with your life when you were 16?

It’s strange, but when my mother taught me how to knit (around 15 years of age), I knew then that I wanted to have my own label, and my own signature store. It’s always been in my head.

Well, you have your own label so I’m guessing a signature store is still in the plan?

Definitely. Why not? It’s my plan to open signature stores in CT, Johannesburg and London in the next 5 years. Ambitious I know.

Talking of the plans, what’s the future of design in SA?

We cannot beat the volumes or cheap cost of the textile industry in China, but we have something different, unique here in SA. We have stories, we have beautiful raw material, and we have a rich heritage. If we focus and present that to the world, then we deserve a place on the international platform.

Locally, I am finding that our growing black middle class market is embracing everything African. Less and less importance is being placed on overseas brands and wearing “South African” exudes a sense of owning our heritage. Beautiful raw material like Mohair, cashmere, hemp and wool are very South African so it makes sense to claim them in our garments.

I also believe that the world is returning to the beauty of handmade, or slowness and quality. I think we are tired of mass production.

Advice to yourself?

It is absolutely essential to look at finances and to determine the fall and rise of cash flow. I am still part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Incubation Program (offered to outstanding emerging artists) and they give invaluable assistance in this regard. And to make sure that I keep offering a unique product story in my work, which will keep it aesthetically interesting and inspiring.

Describe yourself in three words?

Assimilative, spiritual and artistic.

Your hero?

Apart from my mom? Everyday people who are trying hard to make a difference trigger my inspiration. And when I feel low, I call on my ancestors to uplift me and they do.

Are you able to sum up your life purpose?

To continue to clothe men and women in high quality unique garments that originate from the deep and mystical story of Africa.


“It was my mother who instilled the love of knitting in me,” Laduma tells me. We are sitting outside his “workshop” at the NMMU University Fashion and Textile department. He has been given free rent by the University as part of an “incubator” initiative to encourage outstanding graduates to pursue their creative dreams. “I was in Grade 8 when I started helping her with her knitwear – she had a very old knitting machine and once I learnt how, I began creating my own jerseys, and scarves. I just wanted to look different!” he smiles. Today, Laduma is training four apprentice knitters to help with the current and growing demand for his unique jerseys. 24 Year old Laduma is onto something great. His jerseys have become objects of desire in the upper echelons in the global market. He has sold in Paris, in London and in Milan. It’s not difficult to see why. What began as a fourth year B Tech project at The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, has catapulted to front row of the textile industry. “For my thesis, I wanted to create new modern garments for the AmaXhosa initiates. Somehow it felt wrong that we were all wearing European influenced pieces – that hunter garb – jacket and pants, and it certainly didn’t seem relevant to our tradition”, he tells me with quiet dignity. “Today’s initiates are urbanized and we have a market that was saturated with the likes of Pringle and other European brands – it didn’t feel right”. “I realized that the beautiful aesthetics and patterns of these traditional beadwork pieces could be translated into my designs, and that it would mean something to us as modern young Amaxhosa” he enthuses. Tradition is very important to Laduma. When I asked him why he uses only local mohair and merino wool, he shot a glance and responded quickly “Because it is local to the Xhosa and the Eastern Cape - it makes complete sense! His motifs are distinctive, unique and are his modern interpretation of his Xhosa culture. He uses a lot of orange, and blue in his designs – “Orange is really important to me – it’s the dominant colour of the traditional Xhosa blankets, all those years ago”. The Settlers used to call the Amaxhosa “The Red Blankets” – referring to that specific orange ochre hue prevelant throughout the Amaxhosa heritage. So how did he go from a young textile graduate to “the world awaits” in a space of a year or so? “I entered an International Design competition with my B-Tech project and won the SA leg, and then completely surprisingly, I won the competition!” He says with a proud chuckle. “The competition is run by the International Society of Dyes and Colourists – I won a trip to London (a first!), some money and the Bell Veronica Trophy”. The rest, as they say, is history. He was asked to present his work at the Design Indaba in Cape Town in February this year. Lucky for him, international trend analyst, Li Edelkoort was in the audience and was blown away by his designs. She promptly arranged to have his work exhibited at a show in Milan (hugely successful), and then ten of his pieces were shown in Paris last month (they all sold), and before long, his orders were flooding in, and he was in demand. I ask him how he feels about his newfound success? His enthusiasm is palpable. “I had no idea my designs and work would be so successful. I just wanted to provide the initiates with a more meaningful option of dress, but look at this now? Shew! Its wonderfully mind blowing”! His plans for the future include introducing a women’s range, and to be able to distribute these beautiful garments around the world. “A knitwear line that will be sustainable, stylish and relevant to my community – and will be able to uplift and provide employment to our youth”. As we wrap up our interview, I ask him if he could pinpoint the exact moment when he knew his work would become meaningful and successful? He answers with a big mischievous grin “It was when I was in London accepting my trophy and all the white middle-aged men were wanting to buy my jerseys – I knew, then, that my designs could also serve a bigger market.!” I left him to return to his knitting machines, each stitch closer to his humble yet powerful vision.

Jake White

Matthew McGillivray

So, Matt, there is a lot going on in your life right now. Matric is done and dusted, you have already competed in one International competition this year, and you are about to leave for Australia. Give us the run down!

Yeah, still waiting for Matric results (homeschooling exam results take a bit longer to come out) but I am sure they will be fine! Glad its over.

The World Junior Champs in Portugal was an insane experience. A good learning experience. I got knocked in Round 3 – things didn’t really go as planned. They moved the contest to a left break beach - not super strong surfing a backhand – but I got some more practice and I improved so am happy with where I ended up. Made some more friends along the way, got to hang out with my Jbay friends – Dylan Lightfoot and Gina Smith - and got to travel. All good!

And Oz?

I leave on Sunday to compete in 2 events on the Gold Coast (both 1000 points), then off to near Sydney for 3 (also 1000), and then if I get through the trials, there’s a 6000 point event. I also get to watch the Hurley Australian Open in Manly. I’ll be away for 5 weeks and I’m ready and amped. First time in Australia for me, so even more exciting.


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You recently changed sponsors – can you talk us through that?

I was with Hurley SA for 5 years and I can’t thank them enough for all the support and help they have given me. I need to say that upfront. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But sadly, the overseas holding company pulled out of SA, which meant that their team riders were without sponsorship. Ironically enough, a short while after this termination, we heard that they had come back under new management, and were super keen to keep the team, but due to a couple of issues, including timing – I moved across to RipCurl. My split from Hurley was very amicable – no bad blood at all.

I am looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with RipCurl and so far, it’s been great.

Actually, RipCurl Australia are really helping me out whilst I am there competing so I am looking forward to meeting them.

Your daily routine during a contest?

In Portugal, the three of us stayed together in a house, so it was pretty chilled. We woke up early, when it was still dark, and went for a dawnie warm-up surf. Followed by a healthy breakfast and some physical training and heat analyzing, and visualization.

We would all be on the beach for each other, either supporting or surfing heats. The days are pretty long. We would try and squeeze another late afternoon surf and then back for home dinner – homemade (tight, tight budgets), and an early night. This was definitely not the party house!

Seems like a crazy question but why did you start surfing?

Like most surfers, I remember my first wave. I was all of 8 years old. I was on Sardinia Bay in Port Elizabeth, with my two older brothers. They were surfing so I thought I would jump on a board and to my surprise, I stood up on the first wave. It wasn’t until I was 10 that took it up more seriously. I had been doing nippers for a few years, and it seemed like a natural progression from the Malibu – which I loved. I like to think that surfing found me, not the other way around!

What do you do when the surf goes flat for days on end?

I skydive. I have 113 jumps so far, the longest being from 18000 feet with a minute of free fall. It's second to surfing!

And now you live right on the point in Jbay. Could it get any better?

No. This is paradise for sure! I can stumble out of bed, walk a few steps and check out the conditions and lineup (and crowds!). We moved from Port Elizabeth to Jbay when I was in Grade 9 at Grey High School. Our lives changed considerably. I started homeschooling again and – from surfing a few times a week in PE, to almost every day in Jbay, often twice a day if conditions allow. I’m so grateful to my parents for making this decision. Its been the best decision for our family.

Talking of family, your sister Kirsty seems to be following in your footsteps. She’s the current Under 16 SA Champ. Do you give her tips and advice?

Yeah, we so proud of her. I do give her a few tips but mainly we just surf together and she learns and pushes her boundaries then.

And what do the next ten years hold – your goals?

Definitely still having a home base in Jbay. But I want to have reached the CT Top 32.

What will that take?

Plenty of focus, visualization, the right coaching, dedication, mind training, the right mindset, physical training and small daily steps that will get me there.

Can you share something about you that few people know?

I love playing chess (online).

Lastly, leave us with a description of your best wave ever!

How can I choose just one! Ok, the one that stands out – 6-foot Supers – I caught a barrel at the car park section, rode to salad bowls, caught another barrel, managed a few powerful curves and then rode it all the way through to Coins. It was a perfect wave, long, smooth open face and never-ending.

Nico Masemula

Nico Masemula

“As I walk to work, on this gravel road, with the sun coming up over the Karoo, I make a promise to myself to try something new, every day,” says smiling Nico Masemula. And his experimentation and passion are evident in all his quirky ceramic work.

Smooth rabbits, fierce cats, and smiling lions are amongst his growing collection of art, which dominates a table in the middle of his rustic studio in Calitzdorp. Ready for dispatch to the upmarket Anthropologie collection in America, his ceramics are fast becoming items of value in the competitive world of art collection.


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“I got a few lucky breaks in my life”, he tells me with a serious look. “First, it was meeting Hylton Nel, when I was still at school. My mum and Hylton’s then gardener were friends and I used to go and hang out with them after school. Then, when I left school, I didn’t really know what to do, so Hylton suggested that I start making cups at his studio”.

“Ah, I made so many cups,” he says. “And boy, they were successful – Lots of people bought my cups”. But there are only so many cups one can make, before the boredom sets in. His son began urging him to make rabbits, and dogs, and lions, and before the sun was setting, Nico began crafting his signature pieces.

His second break came from Trent Read of Knysna Fine Art who gave him his first show in 2007 and it was then, that his name and his work began creeping into the hearts and minds of critics and collectors.

Trevyn McGowan of Source was amongst one of these and his third break occurred when Trevyn commissioned Nico to make some pieces for Anthropologie. Nico is, it seems, well and truly on his way to greatness.

Working side by side with Hylton Nel has, of course, influenced Nico’s work to some extent, but for the most part, he tells me that he puts his heart and soul into the clay and “…if I do that, then something beautiful will always come out”. His inspiration comes from God, from the beautiful silence of Calitzdorp, and from his need to tell stories. His work is both wonderfully narrative and deeply thought-provoking.

I ask him if he and Hylton ever argue? “No, I don’t like to argue – I like to listen and to watch” he responds. “We share this small shed and often work in silence, side by side. Hylton has been the greatest teacher and friend I could ever ask for”.

And there is indeed, a feeling of peace that reigns in and outside the studio. The sound of clay being thrown and moulded merges with the sounds of nature and one gets a very real sense that there is something special going on, here in Calitzdorp.

“My aspirations?” he asks quizzically – looking at me through his white bright eyes. “Yoh!, my work is in America and I am humbled by that – Can you believe it? – How much more do you think I want”? A little grin shows how proud he is.

And so, he should be.! Nico Masemula has the sun on his back as he moves into the limelight.

Note: Nico Masemula has since passed away.

Jonathan Jansen

Jonathan Jansen

What is God?

An expression of goodness in all that is broken, imperfect and in darkness. God is 24/7. I don’t think God goes to church. I see God in my students, in my staff and in people I meet. God is not formal, nor strict. Actually, God is cool, relaxed, non-restrictive and a moral compass for us all.

What happens when you die?

While I am living, I am more preoccupied with how I live my life. It doesn’t matter what happens when I die but I do think it’s a more perfect state.

What would you do with your last 24 hours?

Exactly what I am doing now! I feel I am always in the moment and doing what God wants me to do.


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Describe your life in one word?


Describe yourself in one word?

Absolutely crazy

What do you dislike?

I have impatience with the powerful and corrupt and those who squander. My goal is to rattle them.

What did your mother teach you?

My mother was tough, tough. The toughest human being I know. She is able to stare down the barrel of a gun against bullies. She was born in the Cape Flats. That says it all. My mother’s voice was one of strength. My father was the soft one. I am a bit of both, I guess.

What have your children taught you?

They have taught me how easy it is to be a fake. They are so authentic and real – true inspiration.

What does money mean to you?

Nothing except a means to help others get ahead.

What do you do with a spare 15 minutes?

Go walking around the campus looking for students to converse and engage with.

Who are your heroes?

Beyers Naude, Braam Fischer, Robert Sobukwe, to name a few. The real heroes are my students. I try to be like them – honest, decent, respectful and idealistic.

What advice would you give to a broken-hearted 18-year-old?

Whether it is love or anything – I would say:” This too will pass”. Don’t be hard on yourself. Be patient. Don’t struggle alone. Don’t hurt or blame yourself. Reach out and keep believing in love.

What are you grateful for?

Oxygen, the simplicity of being alive, and the influence I may have over 33000 students.

What would you say to someone who wants to immigrate from South Africa?

I would ask them to take a cold shower, to take control of their senses and get some perspective. It is your birthright and a privilege to be a South African. Start giving back and start appreciating this country of ours. We all make a difference.

What advice do you give yourself?

I regularly talk to myself. I tell myself not to believe everything people say. I tell myself to be grateful. And to keep perspective on what really counts.

And when things are tough?

One of my goals in life is to have fun. Don’t be too serious. Make time to laugh and let go.

How would you like to be remembered?

A guy who refused to be defined by others. As someone who took huge risks. As a whole person. And as someone who thought out of the box.

Sister Ethel

Sister Ethel

Catholic Nun

I was going to enjoy a life in the country of my birth but God had other plans. He told me to go to South Africa and devote my life to the poor and poverty-stricken. He led me to a tree, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where I started the Missionvale School and clinic, under those leaves, in that blistering heat. That was in 1988. God knew what he was doing because today, Missionvale Care Centre helps thousands of South Africans. Always trust in God.

Tasha Mentasti

Trevyn MacGowan

Co-Founder of Source

Trevyn is not afraid to act big. Very big. It’s not that she starts out thinking big. All her projects and career opportunities seem to begin as a deep engagement with her passion in life – artistic expression and design and sharing those. And when these explode into something important, something amazing, she is not afraid to take them on, in a big way.

In fact, everything Trevyn does seems more connected with her soul than most. “Everything comes from my instinct”, she says, with her big beautiful smile. “It comes from within, and when it begins, it’s unstoppable”.


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Leaving home (alone!) at aged 16 to pursue an acting career in London was brave. (She shudders now when she thinks that her daughter is 6 years away from potentially doing the same thing!). Transforming her first flat into something special, selling it, and then repeating the exercise a few times, was gutsy. And then taking on renovating a loft development in London at such a tender age was nothing short of lionhearted.

Trevyn’s childhood was infused with creativity. Her mother constantly renovated homes, her father was an interior decorator for 30 years with Vitrina in Hyde Park, and she described her earliest creative memories as “transforming”. “We were always changing, renovating, moving, creating, and expressing”. It’s no wonder that Trevyn found her passion, in the same way, a few years later in the heart of London.

After the success of the Loft development in London, some of her friends began asking if she would consider “doing up” their homes, and before long, Site-Specific, her design company, was born. By this time, she had met, fallen in love with and married Theatre Designer, Julian MacGowan, and the two of them carried Site-Specific into the upper echelons of the London in crowd.

So how and why did they move to SA? “We wanted to bring our children to experience wide open skies, the space to breathe, and the expanse that South Africa has to offer”. Once again, the decision was based on instinct and passion, and after seeing and falling in love with a place on the beach in Wilderness, they decided to move here permanently. “I thought I was going to be the ultimate housewife, living in a house with a terrific view, and take a rest from our hectic life in London!” she muses.

But fate would have it otherwise. A visit to Di Marshall of Wonki Ware changed everything. “I jokingly said that I would represent her in London – and I remember Julian looking at me and saying that I should be careful what I wish for!”

Five minutes with Polly Dickens of The Conran Shop in London was all she was given to show the Wonki Ware pieces, and in those five minutes, everything changed.

Today Source, the MacGowans Company, stimulates, promotes and assists some 500 artists and designers into the global market. Local art, design and craft can be seen and purchased all over the world, in shops and organizations like The Conran Shop, Anthropologie, Jamie Oliver, ABC Carpet and Home, and Terraine. Source has taken South African design to the Design Exhibition show and Gallery at the New York Rockafella Center – open to the (well-heeled) public.

South African artists in collaboration with Source, have never been more visible and in demand. It was with great pride, that Trevyn told me about local furniture designer, Gregor Jenkin. To date, his Steel table from the Profile range within his collection has been the biggest seller in the history of The Conran Shop in Paris.

Locally, her pride and joy is the formation and implementation of the Southern Guild. Makings its debut at the Joburg Art Fair in 2009, it showcases 45 selected artists each year, all of whom focus on new materials, launching “one of a kind” pieces and limited editions. All the work is unveiled at the Joburg Art Fair and is curated by Source.

But it is her collaboration with Hugues Wietvoet, the CEO of Boardmans, which makes her eyes dance. “He saw the Southern Guild and became excited about creating something similar in the Boardman’s’ stores. He was both enthusiastic and brave about the concept and asked Source to design and install flagship products for the stores”.

“We did that, and today, we have 48 designers, with 188 products in “Source for Boardmans”” she says, with energetic excitement.

Perhaps the most notable of those products has been the creation of a range of glassware that is the result of a remarkable relationship and collaboration between Boardman’s, Source, Ngwenya Glass and well-known Chef, Reuben Riffel.

Ngwenya Glass, started by Swedish Missionaries in the 70s and now owned by the Prettejohns, is a highly functioning plant, that recycles everything from glass, oil, newspaper, and even water, and produces delicately beautiful glassware that can be found in Boardmans. With the help of Chef Riffel and the sound influence of Source, discerning South Africans can now purchase Ngwenya Glassware. And 5% of all sales go to the Penninsula Feeding Scheme. THAT is true empowerment.

“Brave clients like Boardmans, are what makes it all worth it”, she says with great conviction. “They make the big difference, both in our work and in catapulting young designers and artists into growth and appreciation and sales. Everyone benefits”.

As I enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by Julian, I became aware that I was in the company of giants. Of a couple who have been brave, passionate and steadfast in the belief that if you can dream it, you can be and do it. They get so much pleasure in being able to do what they love – here in South Africa. They have no plans of moving anywhere, at any time. “This is where we belong”, adds Julian.

Intensely curious, I asked Trevyn about her life philosophy and the words came easily - “Do what you care about, be authentic and honest in your work, don’t let anyone strip you of your dreams, and … have as many experiences as possible”. And that is, I thought, what life is about.

Harvey Tyson

Harvey Tyson

Sandy Coffey ~ Photographic Commissions

+27 (0)83 265 7804 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.