A washout of creativity and fun.
This year is my first Fynarts experience as I am a newbie to Hermanus; a recent transplant from the roadrace and brightlights of Sea Point. I am slowly finding waze to meet local people and add my spice to the mix. Fynarts seemed a great way to do this, so I shortened my trip to the UK in order to arrive back in time for the Calligraphy workshop with Andrew van der Merwe. I have always been taken by beautiful script and have dreamed of having the time and space to refine my own scrawl, and this seemed the perfect time and place to do so. I was thrilled to see it on offer in the rich menu of choices for Fynarts 2019.
We crowded around the heaters at Duchies on the first day, sheltered from the pounding rain and wind on Grotto Beach beyond. I looked around the room of millennial monks and felt as if something old and timeless was taking form. Andrew introduced his approach – that one’s handwriting is the basic beginning; that we all have the potential to dance our pens.. “Calligraphy is movement and rhythm and you do it with your whole being” he said. I felt as if I were dipping my nib in relax-remedy as I followed his gentle prods to ease up on the fingers; angle the wrist; allow the arm to be guided, not by the mind, but by the body.
I found myself writing random words that dropped down the funnel of my mind on to the fine white empty sheets, in ways I had never written before. Nothing forced, no effort, just fun and movement; in synch with breathing. The letters opened their wings like butterflies. And when I read the words I had written and saw how beautifully they presented themselves, they read like fine prose, even though they were mostly random thoughts.
“Coming to the Beach calligraphy class?” my friend Lynn Mossop asked at the end of our 2 days of finger-stained, concentrated fun. I hadn’t planned to, but it sounded like the perfect next.
We arrived at 10 the next morning, barefooted braves on the cold sand; bearing pangas, sticks and assorted kitchen utensils. I was excited to see how Andrew van der Merwe would translate niblets-and-ink into scriblets-in-sand. He did so in his masterfully, philosophical and understated way. He had us writing with mussel shells; tin cans, poking bits of iron. He showed how to respect the sand, to watch its responsiveness, to mindfully step in our own footsteps so as not to disturb the gleaming sheets of undisturbed. He showed us how to see the sand, not as sand, but as a living, breathing organism, responsive to our tickling touch, our gentle prod. We let the water wash over our efforts, and renew the page for more prayers in shapes and designs. I felt as if I were soul-dancing with the thoughts in my mind that became holy and respectful and honouring of this great force of appreciated nature. Of its teachings of impermanence and how precious each moment is before it changes into the next.
The sun blessed us with a windless day; the dogs ran over the masterpieces with joy; the children’s voices shouted from their play. I took a deep breath and noticed all the small details of the world around me. A quietened busy world with none of the rushing to somewhere from nowhere. A revelation of respite that showed me that yes, even in the midst of the race, there is time for grace. I saw too, when I looked at my crab-like creeps of letters across the sand, that when I let go of judgement, they revealed an exquisite expression of me – my authentic and original way of writing exactly as it manifests when given the freedom to flourish. A beach walk will never be the same again. And for sure, I’ll keep my eyes out for other calligraphers sweeping letters on the sand. Hermanus Heaven, lucky me, my new home.