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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Darling Museum and the Creamery Corner




I undertook another visit to Darling Museum today. The West Coast covers a large area and there are many things to see, but there won’t be another Museum quite like this for us to visit.
Darling was founded in 1853 on a farm called Langfontein and named after Sir Henry Charles Darling, then Lieutenant Governor of the Cape. At the end of the Nineteenth Century a creamery was established here by Swedish settlers, Moller and Threnstrom.

A local lady, Baby Basson felt that the history of the creamery should be preserved and that was how the Darling Museum was started. Today, it is possible to spend many hours (or days) in the Museum with its well-furnished schoolroom, period furniture and porcelain, clothes, farm implements and even a shed with well-preserved antique vehicles. The main emphasis, though, is on the history of the creamery. What a wonderful idea it was to preserve this history and all these beautiful objects and utensils!

I prepared a stretched canvas with Naples Yellow acrylic paint, buffed it well, and then drew directly onto it with pen&ink. Afterwards I added highlights in white.( I am sure I have seen something Old Masterly like this technique but cannot remember where?) I am showing a butter churn made with a vat as base, milk cans and butter molds. The contraption in the back was used to seperate skim milk from cream. We had one when I was little and it was fun turning it each evening in the cool milk room and wait for the two different liquids to pour out. And why do I also remember that there was seventeen or so little dishes to wash and dry and stack back into each other?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Antique Washing Machine




In 1861 a British lady who lived in Cape Town, wrote:

“It is an amazing sight to stroll up towards ‘Platteklip’ in the afternoon, and there watch the hundreds of dusky damsels lathering and wringing, banging and pounding our unfortunate garments in the brooks that come leaping down from ‘Table Mountain’. The bushes are covered for miles with snowy clothing; and these women are obliged to be up very early indeed in the morning to secure the pools for washing”

I love this piece, don’t you? It goes further to describe the little kids playing around the washerwomen.

I came upon this washing machine with a wooden barrel in our large Darling Museum. According to an online booklet : “history of washing” (P&G) , the middle of the nineteenth century witnessed the appearance of upright hand-powered washing machines with drums. Now that really saved the back as well as the hands of the laundresses! Unfortunately, at that stage washing detergents were still a long way off!

How to paint a washing machine in a museum? I found an image of a vintage poster for Persil and decided to paint it for the background. Those Persil ads were so clever: the pictures had clean lines and the colour scheme was limited to two shades of blue, a bright red and lots of pure white. The laundress shows cheeky blond curls, a pencil skirt, high heels and LOTS of make-up!

Friday, June 19, 2009

You are welcome, very welcome!



The modern malls have entrances on many sides which defeat the purpose of architecture. First you search for parking in an infuriatingly complicated maze. You better remember that you have parked at R15 on the red coded floor with the fish enblem and not on the blue coded floor with the bird. Then of course there will be no entrance in sight, it might be one floor up in the lift and it may be called Gate 1,2,3, 8,9 or whatever.

So let us rather gather our senses and take the West Coast road. Turn inland into Darling and when you reach the stop street at the main road, cross right over into Long Street. At the end of Long, turn right, and there you will find a truly welcoming entrance. Like the buildings of the olden times which had porticos and lanes to entice the pilgrim towards the main theme!

This is Ormonde Wine Cellars, where you will love the beautiful buildings of the homestead, cellars and tasting room. I love the open gate and the foliage only just hiding the buildings. And is there anything more welcoming and happy than our breezily optimistic National flag? Of course, you just know that the wine produced here, will be wonderful!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Enduring Elegance







The tourist brochures like to describe Darling as the little town with beautifully restored Victorian cottages and ancient trees. This grouping shows up both those elements. I saw it when I stood in the parking area of Darling Museum where the pretty house is framed by very tall eucalyptus trees.

When trying to find out more about Victorian architecture on the Internet, I found some very opiniated reasoning that broekie lace, half-vaulted corrigated iron roofs over the veranda and other bits of iron fretwork and ceilings were used to hide bad building design. I cannot subscribe to this opinion as the homes portray the way that the Industrial Age not only gave us structures like the Eiffel Tower, but also contributed to domestic homes.

Soon I will take you into the museum to see more inventions of that age.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Victorian Broekie Lace


On a sunny winter's day, I drive into Darling. Here, away from the ocean, the blue colour of the sky seems more intense. The homes in the older Victorian residential area are a joy to behold and I park here and there to take a walk. A profusion of foliage and deep dark verandas contrast with the light white walls and iron fretwork on some of the stoeps. This is overfeed of the senses and I realise that it is going to very difficult to condense this town into just a few paintings!

Victorian homes are relics from a time when curliqued designs and filigree castings were very popular. All hardware, including molded metal ceilings were made possible by the inventions of the Industrial Age. While Australians call the cast iron fretwork on verandas "Adelaide Lace", in South Africa, and I believe only here, we call it "broekie lace". Please, please do not translate this word as "panty lace" as it had nothing to do with such garments! I will explain:

Looking at pictures of Victorian ladies and little girls from about 1850 onwards, you will notice that they wore crinolene dresses in those days. A crinolene was a very wide dress kept wide with a petticoat with 8 hoops ranging from small around the waist to very wide at the bottom. These dresses could be lifted easily by the wind, thus long linen pantaloons underneath were a necessity. It was considered very dainty if young girls' pantaloons were slightly longer than the dresses and decorated with delicate lace. In Afrikaans, pants, jeans, pantaloons, everything is plainly called "broek". And the metal lace work on the veranda? Broekie lace!