Welcome to “Show and Tell Friday!” Do you have something special to share with us? It could be a trinket from grade school, a piece of jewellery, or a treasured collection. Look around your closet if you have to share! Share photos and the story that goes with your special item. To find some more interesting “Show and Tell” stories, visit http://www.kellishouse.blogspot.com/
Father Frans Claerhout – a priest and artist whose ministry included so many things. He was a poet, a missionary, an advocate of the poor but most importantly, his ministry was to witness what it is to be a human being! He once said, “Why paint landscapes when you can empty a paintbrush with women, donkeys and sunflowers.” And these were often predominant in his works. Father Claerhout, a Belgian priest, immigrated to South Africa in 1946 as a Catholic Missionary. He never received formal instruction in painting, but his charming style appealed to many art lovers and investors.
I remember falling in love with his work as a little girl. My dear friend Jose (who now lives in Austria, and who reads my blog!) introduced me to his work. Her parents were close friends of Claerhout and they often used to visit him at his studio in Tweespruit. I always longed to own one of his masterpieces and today I have two charcoals in my lounge and I LOVE them. You might recognise them as they have been in the background of a couple of my photographs.
This is the larger of the two and my favourite - I love the guitar, and the big hands!
The smaller one - typical of his work - mother and child - see the sunflower on the top left!?
When Stacey was a little girl, in fact she was only 2, we went to his studio with Jose and Dietmar. I remember having Clam Chowder lovingly made by Father Michel who lived there. We proceeded to have red wine and Father Claerhout settled down with a good cigar after dinner. We watched him work on his spring collection that day. It was a delightful afternoon and I still have a picture of Stacey that Claerhout drew with a black koki pen – “Die Kleine met die groote oe” (the little one with big eyes).
This is it - I absolutely love it! He also made her a little donkey out of a bit of paper that had his budget worked out on it! When you put your fingers in the fold, the little ears move up and down!
One of our very special meetings with Father was the christening of my god-son, Alexander! Jose found this photo graph and sent it to me this week! That’s me with the dark hair in those days!
Left to Right: Fr Claerhout, Dietmar, Jose, Me with Alexander and Willy, Jose's brother
Jose’s brother, Tony, tells how as children they used to go and spend holidays at Fr Claerhout’s Thaba’Nchu home. How they gathered around him to listen to age-old stories that ranged from everyday things to witches with warts and a baboon that lived on the white cliff outside Thaba’Nchu.
Father Claerhout has passed on now, but his stories, his work and his love for the African people will live on forever.