Thursday, June 3, 2010


Sharing a tent with about 10 other okes isn't that much fun, but as a budding artist I took the many opportunities presented to sketch them with both hands. These are the first of hundreds, possibly thousands, of sketches of my fellow conscripts I did during the next two years.

While most of the ous in our tent were English-speaking, there were a few Afrikaans guys, including this one, who played some superb Kris Kristofferson on his guitar. I made a note of his name, Hartman van Lingen, of Zeerust. I wonder where he is today. Interesting too that people even brought guitars with them to basic training. There were also lots of cassette tape players, with the sounds of New Wave bands like Dire Straits, Police, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson particularly popular at the time.

The guy below, I recall as Joe Ross, from Westville, while the top drawing I think shows something of what life was like. You had a steel bed with foam mattress, pillow and blankets. Here, too, can be seen the "kas", or steel cupboard, and then the open flaps of the tent, which let the light in during the day. At night I think we had one, maybe two, open 100 watt bulbs.

I was fascinated by some of the characters, with the guy on top somehow managing to sleep away many hours, completely oblivious to his surroundings. Would that I could enjoy such escape. The guy below, right, seemed totally unsuited to the military. Group sketches, like those on the left, are sometimes also effective. Was my technique improving? I think so, because now it's for real and getting down what is essential is the name of the game. I've come across some horrific cross-hatching among my sketches from these little A6 note books, however.

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