Saturday, June 19, 2010


During my three-month intelligence officer's course at 1 Intelligence School in Kimberley, I blotted my copy book several times. On one occasion I remember standing up in a crowded hall and asking the dominee, who was a colonel, whether it was not correct that in the end a political solution would have to be found in South West Africa/Namibia. He responded that he could not talk politics. On another occasion I mentioned, during one of our "lessons", that I had heard that in the recently independent Mozambique the standard of healthcare for the ordinary people had improved markedly under the Marxist Frelimo government. Anyway, the upshot was that when the rest of the group, about 500 to 1000 people, were sent to northern SWA to do what it is they were supposed to do, I was told I was not going.

Incredibly relieved at this stroke of luck, I was deployed to the base media centre, where I ended up making flow-charts for courses and various other odd painting and sign-writing jobs. All pretty boring, but what it did do was put me amongst a lot of paper and pens, pencils, felt-tip pens and so on. My drawing arsenal was fully equipped, and I let rip with a plethora of drawings of the people around me. The following is a cross-section of those drawings.

I had mounted this drawing on red card, hence the line down the right, the product of poor cropping. These were two Afrikaans guys I worked with in the media centre. I think my use of felt-tip pen, or fineliner, led to some interesting and bold linework.

I remember this situation, sometime probably in late 1979 or early 1980. It was the unit's athletics day, held I think at a stadium in Kimberley, or possibly at their own rather lavish rugby/athletics field. The large oke was our sergeant-major, Blignaut, "die baas van die plaas". He is chatting to fellow NCOs, I suspect, at the bottom of the stand, thus seen slightly from above. I think this ballpoint pen drawing shows you don't need to spell out detail to make a work interesting.

In the bungalow, initially shared with about 100 others, there were faces galore. I just kept sketching. I enjoy the yawning line on the right.

This guy I distinctly recall as a pugnacious little oke from Durban. The English-speakers from the Last Outpost refused to kowtow to the Afrikaners, who ruled the roost.

Another Natal-ite, this is from that original lined notebook. It was drawn while on one of those long route marches through the Drakensberg foothills. I quite enjoy the ballpoint pen line.

Bruce Goldie was this guys's name and he came from Lyttleton in Pretoria. A pipe major at Pretoria Boys' High, I remember how impressed he was when he heard a tape I had of the Irish band The Chieftains, which features the uilleann bagpipes. I quite enjoy the contrast achieved here between light and shade.

This is another soul from those first three months of basic training at Ladysmith with 5 SAI Battalion in late mid-1979.

While still drawn on lined paper, this was done in Kimberley, because I recognise this overweight oke as having been part of the media centre.

Still at Ladysmith, this was one of the quaint sausages in our tent, whose faces lent themselves to being somewhat caricatured.

At Kimberley I made myself a sketch pad from green waste paper. This was one of the products.

Each portrait requires a different technique, which is rarely decided on consciously. Here the face is partially silhouetted. I think the beret adds a fine military touch, much as I despised the military.

If I recall correctly, this was a guy called McCann, son of a boilermaker from the mining town of Carletonville. He was a real character and often walked around with a fag in his mouth. Once he shaved off half of his moustache and saw how long he could go without anyone crapping on him.

Another media centre character, I like the distortion I achieved here.

Pensive. I can't recall who this was, but I enjoy the distortion, including a lip which seemsdetached. It's part of the character of the drawing.

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