The past 18 months has been a period of extreme highs and lows and constant change: "Imported" my International fiancé. Battled with home Affairs for weeks. Battled a Purple Bride (a story for another day). Got married. Moved to a new city. Got a great job. Got a great flat. Bought a fridge. Lost that great job. Almost lost the flat. Lost a parent. Almost lost myself. Decided to be an artist. Que drastic career-change. Got a job. And another. And another. Got offered my first exhibition - a totally surreal moment that has somehow halted the whirlwindean-storm that has been the past 18 months...
The exhibition just ended in the fabulous William Humphrey's Art Gallery in Kimberley, South Africa. I've had to continuously pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Aside from being a place close to my heart (I grew up in Kimberley, and visited the gallery often), the WHAG - as it's affectionately known - also happens to be one of only a handful National galleries in South Africa.
I am humbled and grateful to say that the exhibition was an enormous success! Twelve of my 26 works sold - one to an international buyer a day before the opening; and one - my proudest moment - was acquired by the gallery to be added to their ever-growing collection of South African artists' work.
The opening night was a splendid affair! Flanked by my two favourite people - hubby and mom - and surrounded by scores of friendly, supportive faces (some beloved, some unfamiliar), the evening raced past in a blurred assault on the senses. I was overwhelmed by three main emotions:
1) Some sort of can-it-be-possible-that-I've-actually-survived-to-make-it-to-this-day-that-has-felt-so-foggy-and-impossible-for-so-long stupor;
2) a deep sense of loss at the absence of my father, who I know would have been bursting with pride; and
3) a warm, overflowing gratitude and affection to those who carried (and sometimes dragged) me to this point in time.
This glorious, bitter-sweet, fairy-tale point in time that one can only hope will set the tone for the next 18 months to come. My plans for the next 18 months? Ah - can one really plan life?
Kirsten Hartley (WHAG), me, artist Jody Olën with André de Villiers, also an artist, who opened the exhibition.