Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The world became an uglier place around 2000. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela had stepped down as president, with Thabo Mbeki replacing him. Princess Diana had died, and in 2000, Robert Mugabe, with Mandela gone, felt free to hang on to power by whatever draconian means necessary. White commercal farmers and their workers bore the brunt of his actions, as he unleashed hordes of unemployed people in a massive land grab. He stole elections, clamped down on the press and the judiciary, and instituted a reign of terror which continues to this day. Zimbabwe's economy was left in tatters, as millions fled to South Africa. Then, of course, on September 11, 2001, Islamic fundamentalists took their war of terror against the US to the political and economic heart of that country. The repercussions will be felt for decades to come. Something of this sadness, and madness, is, I think, reflected in the art work, such as it was, that I produced at the time. But first, a bit of advertising.

Ah, a chance to get in a plug for my autobiography, Apartheid's Child ... Freedom's Son. This was a review that a colleague, Robert Ball, wrote in his column. He wrote under the pseudonym Hugh Baakens, Baakens Street being where the Herald is situated. Sadly, I only self-published 30 copies - it was too politically incorrect, I guess, to attract a publisher. Not that I didn't try.

This guy seems to wear an African pith helmet and a mask as he lies like a dog on its back, helpless and somewhat bemused.

These rather ineffectual doodles are alongside an article about the war in Iraq. As you'll see, I am increasingly doing stuff on page proofs, printed while working as a sub-editor on The Herald in Port Elizabeth.

People were still getting my name wrong, too. Not to mention Mrs Wainwright's.

This drawing seems to recall a great South African artist, Alexis Preller. Alongside is the face of Sicelo Fayo, who was a deputy editor on the Herald at the time.

Often I'd print the letters page to read what we were running the next day. The figure seems to reflect the forlorn mood of the time.

A time for a puff and some rural reflection, perhaps?

We used to be allowed, as subs, to contribute letters to the editor for publication in the hopes of stimulating debate, but this was phased out around 2003, for whatever reason. Is that why this guy has no hands, perhaps?

But, of course, the kids continued to grow. I did this little figure amongst the assertions of eldest son Luke, then aged about 12.

Using the technique I learnt at art school of drawing without looking at the page, I captured Luke in a few lines.

Another study using the same technique.

Amidst the letters, two drawings, and a few pointers about what was going down. Rudolf Straeuli was the Springbok coach, and he failed us at the 2003 World Cup. Dragonball Z was a TV series my sons were into.

I often used my left hand, while seated at a PC, to do the odd drawing, and this seems to have been the case here. The guy with the moustache looks a lot like Cal Seton-Smith, a former senior journalist on the Herald.

Johan Nel was also a reporter on the Herald. After he retired, he contributed letters to the Herald - clearly gatvol with a lot of things about the new SA. Again, a left-hander.

Bret Kebble perhaps sums up the mood of the era. The mining magnate ingratiated himself with the ruling ANC by giving huge donations and parties to their youth league. He also launched a national fine art exhibtion. Then a few years ago he died, allegedly in an assisted suicide, shot dead in his car.

I wrote the art crits for the Herald for about 16 years, until last year. Sometimes, in the editing process, facts got omitted.

The Herald ran a supplement, TGIF, each Friday. It was terminated recently. This little drawing, and embellishmet of Angelina Jolie's beauty, is on a front cover.

There are alwas ethics questions on a newspaper. I happened to do these drawings on a notice about a workshop on the subject.

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