A Highlander  -  from the desolate plains of the Great Karoo where I grew up on a sheep farm in the Fraserburg district.   (Cape Province, South Africa.)
Marieta at age 4
a historical building on Fraserburg
At the age of 4 - Xmas 1949
One of the historical building on Fraserburg
Born on the 15th of August l945, a Leo-  and Sunshine child  -  lover of LIFE.   By NATURE   I am a gardener and painter and ever since I can remember I was collecting plants to grow in my garden.  At the age of 4 I already had, together with my brother Jan, a vegetable garden.     By the time I turned 8,  a vast collection of succulents was growing in my semi-desert garden.
Fornunate for me, my Mother was a teacher and had a primary school on the old farm, so I could nurse my plants and watch them grow.     My Father, a musician/farmer and a great plantsman, and it was with amusement that I could watch him prune and graft the trees.      (Below, some of the pomological studies exhibited at The Royal Horticultural Society, in London and published on the front cover of 'The Decidious Fruitgrower'  -   June, l993.)
the red emperor grape
the star king apple

The Red Emperor Grape

The Star King Apple

the satsuma plum the granny smith apple the methley plum


The Satsuma Plum      

The Granny Smith Apple  

The Methley Plum

Life on the old farm was good.    The freshness of homegrown vegetables and wheat from the land, milled on the farm, and baked into the most divine loaves I've ever smelt and tasted.     There was homemade cows butter and sometimes pure white goats butter to go with the bread;  together with honey collected from the many natural beehives on the farm.  .
During summer time almost all the fruits were processed into jams, jellies, chutney and preserves and some were sundried and stored away for winter.    Home made jam and fruit jellies were cooked on the black Dover stove, and later years the Dover stove was replaced with the fashionable AGA.   How well I remember the fragrance of onions, apples, quinces and pomegranates, for these were stored in the loft of the cottage where we lived.    Great fun it was to be escorted by my Mother when she would fetch some for cooking. 
watercolor of apples
watercolor of nasturtiums
      Apples  --  watercolors Nasturtiums  --  watercolors  
Watering the fruit and other trees on the old farm was great fun.   It was with fascination that I watched  the flow of the water in the furrows, the movement of plant debri, how it would turn and tumble in the flow.   Of all the movement of  energy on our planet, I think it is the flow of WATER that I find most fascinating.     Delightful to have sat down in the shade of an apricot tree, or to peel a Cape White fig with care and taste the sweet- and goodness of the earth's abundance  -   until it was time to go home for supper,  spade in one hand and a basket of freshly picked fruit in the other while the Great Karoo was displaying one of it's magnificent sunsets.
photo of sunset in Karoo
photo of sun in Karoo
The going down of the sun on an old Karoo farm, Jakhals Valley, in the Sutherland district
The sun  beating down on the vastness of a desolate Karoo plain, Gideonsfontein, Fraserburg district
How I loved to help looking after the farm, the many trips to the veld to see whether the flocks of Merino sheep were doing well.    (The Merino sheep was originally imported from Spain.)    Shearing time would come and we could play in the freshly clipped wool, jumping up and down with delight until we were covered with a layer of woollen fat .     It was with great pride that my Father emblazoned the woollen bales with his emblem.    Fortunate also, the fact that I could visit the store, now called 'The Drome', in the Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs,  in London where many a sheep farmer's produce from South Africa was auctioned up.
My Mother had a great affinity for Botany and all birdlife.   She kept many chickens like Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds.     There were also turkeys, geese, macowe,  Mallard and white ducks, peacocks, pigeons and wild guinea fowl.     Mealies and lucern were grown to feed all bird life.    We, as children were always in competition as to whom would gather the most eggs from the nests !     Many ostriches were kept for their magnificent plumes and the plucking of the feathers was a difficult task and it was with great excitement that we could watch from a distance.    An ostrich egg is the equavalent of 2 dozen chicken eggs.   Bravo for the chickens for not tolerating their dozen to be turned into a decimal,  and from the era I come, a kilometer will never be a decent mile !
I am grateful for the philosophical minded parents I had and for the noble example they set.    They were modest and hard working people  -   the keepers of the land and energetic community workers.  It was the year 1956 when they had an entertain- ment group from Cape Town,  flown in by a Dakota plane, to perform in the big shed on the farm, in order to raise funds for the local hospital in Fraserburg.    This was only one of their many efforts to build a solid structure for the entire community and all these lovely memories will live on.   Finally the day came that I had to leave the old farm to go to high school at La Rochelle Girls' High, Paarl.
Earlier years I applied my artistic skills to stage decor, tapestry designs and earthenware pottery.    During 1986 I exhibited Botanical Art for the first time.
I have three beautiful daughters who are also artistic orientated, they paint, write poetry and prose, and apply their skills in the academic and scientific fields.     I now live in the University town of Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape.     
the Red Emperor Grape The Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.),  set up a refreshment station at the Cape of  Good Hope and Jan van Riebeeck landed here on the 6th of April 1652.    He imported vines from France, Spain and the Rhineland in 1655 and 1665.  On 2 February 1659, the first wine was produced   -  15 liters of Muscadel and white grapes.      Surrounded by lush vineyards,  the University town of Stellenbosch was named after Simon van der Stel who was appointed as Governor of the Cape's settlement in 1679.  This region is famous for it's excellent export wines.      It  has a Mediterranean climate and often during winter time the mountain peaks are covered with snow.     This painting is of the cultivar 'Red Emperor Grape', (Vitis vinefera)  which is one of South Africa's  export table grapes, it is mainly cultivated in the Hex River Valley in the De Doorns district, Western Cape. The Hex River Valley is also known for it's panoramic views and  the rustic colors of the vines during Autumn.       (It took four months to complete this scientific study and the subject matter  was  made available to me by the 'Nietvoorbij'    Experimental   Farm,  Stellenbosch.)
No institution but NATURE and no school but LIFE could ever claim my name, for it is in the SCHOOL OF LIFE where I shall remain an apprentice.   My work and my life is my prayer,   it is not about who I am, but what I do.    As I move through the passage of time, it is a wish to share my enthusiasm, respect and love I have for LIFE on this planet.      I only want to look back one day and say:     "I was born in Afrika  where I could paint flowers and fruits and get lost in dreams of truth and beauty"   ......  for this,  is what I want to be remembered for.
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