A new year, a new adventure, a new Witsie. Rachel sets foot on campus, which will soon be abustle with thousands of new students, ready to learn the wisdom of the ancients and the arguments of the moderns.
The pleasing neoclassical symmetry of the William Cullen Libray at Wits, on a sultry summer day on the cusp of the new academic year.
A sign of civic activism, near the Unika Laerskool in Randburg. As duly instructed, I came to a full stop, rather than a comma, and took a picture, at least in part because I was reminded of a classic line from the great 90s teen movie, Clueless, a contemporary adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen. We see Alicia Silverstone, as “Cher”, sailing her Jeep obliviously through an intersection, at which her friend, Dionne, says: “Hello! That was a stop sign.” To which Cher responds, with an incredulous frown and a wave of her hand: “I totally paused.”
A walk beneath a cloudless summer sky at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg. Once, a few million years ago, this would have been a swim in an inland sea. Everything changes, over time.
The waterfall threads its way over the ancient rockface, in the oasis of the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg.
National Flower, Walter Sisulu Botanicals Gardens, Johannesburg.
Sunnyside Flats, by Walter Meyer. He went to school in Pretoria, and studied Fine Arts at Tukkies, so this would have been close to the campus, and it may well have been the block where he stayed. The work caught my eye on exhibition in Joburg in the mid-90s. I was drawn by the way it captures the stillness of what could be a quiet and lazy Sunday afternoon. And yet there is a tension in the air, a sense of time and light suspended, of lives in limbo in that frozen moment, in the old 70s-style block with its regimented row of trees bringing a touch of the veld to the city. Someone told me in an email this week: “Walter Meyer painted in Afrikaans.” I think that perfectly sums up his work. He was an artist of his place, but out of his time. His paintings are awash with a sacred light, and yet they brood in a melancholy darkness. That’s what makes them so mesmerising, and that’s why his art will live on.
I was about to brush this twig away from the gate today, when suddenly, almost imperceptibly at first, it started moving. Then it looked at me with its stalk-mounted bug-eyes, and I twigged: it’s a stick insect. I haven’t seen one in the suburbs before, since their natural habitat is far away in the sticks, so I did some research after making my acquaintance. They truly are extraordinary creatures, not just in their highly convincing camouflage, but in their behaviour. A stick insect is capable of re-generating a limb in the event of an encounter with a predator, such as a bird, using a process known as autotomy. (To be fair, the bird may simply have been looking for a twig for its nest.) Furthermore, female stick insects are capable of reproducing parthenogenetically, that is to say, without the involvement of male stick insects. All stick insects born in this way will then be female. I often wonder why our species spends so much time gazing up at the stars in search of intelligent, advanced alien life-forms, when they exist right here beneath our noses. Perhaps this is why, in Science Fiction, aliens are so often depicted as giant, bug-like creatures. But who needs Science Fiction, when real-life bugs are just as interesting, if not more so.
If you ever find yourself on the promenade in Umhlanga at 8 on a Saturday morning...run! That's when the weekly Parkrun gets underway. There were more than 700 runners taking part this morning, a volunteer told us. That quite a surge, especially if you happen to be strolling along the promenade in the opposite direction. But it's all for a good cause. Running.
Exposed to the elements, street art weathers the marks of its environment, from tears of rust to shrapnel-pocks of peeling plaster. This poignant work by Pastel is in the Rivertown district of Durban. #BESETDurban
Street-art street-rat, West Lane, Durban, spotted in the wild on our amble through the city with Mark Bellingan of #BESETDurban. Every great city needs an al fresco gallery of spraypainted works that capture the character of the urban environment or the mood of the moment. This rat-a-tat rat suggests a wry territorial imperative with a Ninja attitude.