I had the great honor to meet Archbishop Tutu at the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. Fifty-one paintings, representing the fifty-one charter members, were exhibited. He was most happy to see THIS HEART OF SOUTH AFRICA and invited me to present it to him in Cape Town, South Africa. This is my dream...to present the Heart to every country in the world.
How can I express my thanks to all the people who helped me get there. Connie McKenney accompanied me. She help create this presentation into one of the best adventures ever. I fell in love with South Africa.
On the drive to the Archbishop’s offices, we were asked if we liked the Christmas Trees. (It was December). We didn’t answer and were asked again. What Christmas trees? They were the Hydrangeas! On either side of the very long driveway were the most beautiful Hydrangeas. Christmas trees have never been the same since!
Lavinia Brown, the Archbishop’s right-hand woman, was welcoming and was a wonderful help to us setting up the presentation, schedules, arranging fro me to have a private meeting with the Archbishop, although she was most surprised that we actually got there!
The driver, an Indian South African, told me that it was a great privilege for him to be at the Archbishop’s office and so I invited him and members of his family to attend the presentation.
When I deliver a painting, I repaint it so that it is fresh, complete, and conscious. I asked Mrs. Brown to find me a place to paint. I used her office, brought chaos to her surroundings. but I thought the painting was beautiful when it was finished.
The presentation was set in the library with refreshments in the gorgeous gardens... had the most interesting conversation with the many guests. Archbishop Tutu was a gracious host and I will never forget this event.
Mrs. Brown had know about the death of my son and my befriending the young man who killed him and she asked me to talk to the Archbishop about this experience. You see, at this time he was heading the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and she felt this story appropriate. THIS HEART OF SOUTH AFRICA was displayed there and perhaps, perhaps, it made a difference.
Connie and I decided to take a three-day excursion. This is one of the most memorable times of my life. I really fell in love with South Africa. We drove through vineyard country and was amazed. There was beauty everywhere, including the many sculptures along the way. I met one family who sold antiques outside a vineyard and we talked for so long that Connie left to taste the wine! They presented me with an ANC key ring and I have treasured it ever since. We saw vistas that can only be described as magical. Visited a national park..wrong time of the year for all the big exotic animals but we did see yellow zebras!, ate at small diners and no, I did not eat monkey brains! Stopped at an ostrich farm and bought one dozen ostrich eggs. Optimist that I am, I got them all home safely. Went to the lowest point in all of the Continent of Africa (see lighthouse below), the sea is opal. Met wonderful people
When we returned to Cape Town, we had a call from Archbishop Tutu’s office. He was leaving his church to attend to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and invited us to attend his last service for his staff. Fourteen people were there, and Connie and I.....we felt most privileged. Archbishop Tutu spoke in three languages, Afrikaners, English, and Xhosa. He then gave me a guided tour of his church. I am in awe of his remarkable presence, commitment, and compassion, and I am so grateful for his support.
Everywhere I go, I investigate some of the crafts, especially weaving. Here is a weavers studio in Cape Town. When I was in Greece, I visited a cobble-stoned 1,000 year old studio. In El Salvador I was taken by a guide to see a 1,000 year old oak tree and, spur of the moment, asked if there was a weaver around. What a surprise! His loom was made up of branches and loose nails.
You just can’t stop creativity!.....
and felt as though I had come home. What a strange feeling but it is a feeling that I still have when I recall these two weeks...