Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Oaklands Experience

Last weekend, through the generosity of a very good friend of ours we were fortunate enough to have been able to spend time at Oakland's Polo and Country Club near Van Reenen in the Freestate. This was made possible by Tess’ good friend Lisa who introduced us to this wonderful place and covered the costs of our accommodation. This was done with a view to helping us get established as artists by introducing us to Oakland's with its wonderful people, beautiful vistas and endless source material for artists like ourselves. Anyone who knows Lisa would appreciate that she has an eye for a good thing and has made a career out of spotting and developing talented enterprising people so we feel honored that she has taken the time and effort to do this for us.
Oakland's is one of those special places that leave a lasting impression in one’s mind. The main reason for this is that at Oakland's you get more than just four star treatment, you get a unique experience of being immersed into a community of great people who you feel like you've known forever. The class of the place is evident in everything from the food to the decor, but what is unique is that the classiness of the place is not daunting or unobtainable. Rather, the class of the place is there to be used touched, tasted, sat on and generally enjoyed, not just looked at.  There is a great sense of freedom and homeliness that is hard to find in other establishments in South Africa and I have never felt quite so at home away from home. This is all attributable to three sisters: Caroline, Annie and Cathy who have come together through life’s circumstances and have thrown their lot in to create a great family experience, centered on this beautiful Polo estate.
For us as artists Oakland's is a treasure trove of beautiful imagery and in just under three days I managed to take over 1000 photographs which will be used as source material for our work. We've captured everything from the majestic to the whimsical. We’ve photographed the splendid polo ponies in action as well as capturing the great Danes reclining on their pub couch, and let’s not forget the pig and donkey which are joined at the hip ( the pig just doesn’t know it yet).
 The action and drama of the Polo is something that I'm particularly looking forward to capturing in my drawings. I’m also looking forward to drawing some of the smaller things like the groomsman’s hands plaiting the horse tail and of course there’s also the aforementioned pig and donkey that just can’t be left out. The great news is that Tess is already working on a commission for one of the British families who were visiting Oaklands at the time. Their 2 sons will be the subject of the commission.
So I look forward to the next couple of months of work and our intention is to produce a body of work which is representative of not only Oakland's, but the rural South African lifestyle in general. The attached photograph gives just a sample of some of the source material which will be converted into full-scale works of art over the next month or two.
Exciting! Thank you Lisa. You won't be disappointed.