Lourens River 2023 – a year on the river
The Lourens River emerges in a spring in the Hottentots Holland Mountains. It flows through nature reserves, farms and parks. This sparkling, murmuring gift to our basin carries a message of life through two towns then meanders over the beach into False Bay. This sparkling, murmuring thread carries a message of life all the way through two towns in our basin.
Watercolours created in 2022 honour the beauty of our river. I used the work to create a 2023 calendar appreciating the work of the Lourens River Conservation Society, the volunteer organisation founded in 1980 to preserve the Lourens River in as natural a state as possible.
The Lourens River needs care
Many people in our basin don’t even notice our river. Some view the river as an inconvenience motivating for confining the water to a concrete canal. As my friend Jan Tromp points out – this will kill the river, turn it into a fetid stream. Some people use the open space for squatting. Still others view the river as a source to be plundered, collecting rocks for their garden for instance. I want to elevate our river in the minds of the people in our basin. wouldn’t it be great if people in our town and downstream in Strand really treasured the river. The Lourens River Conservation Society have dedicated themselves to achieving this end. The Society cleans the river, removes alien vegetation, and educates the public about the ecology of our river.
In 2020 I had created a series of watercolours and a calendar for Radloff Park on the Lourens River.
In 2021 I created a calendar in support of the PATCH Helderberg Child Abuse Centre. So as 2021 drew to a close I found myself standing at the river selling calendars again. This time I was far more organised for marketing so I had a banner and a posterboard that all the dogs would sniff and wee on. (Just a little bit about the hidden delights of selling calendars in the park). But I also began thinking about the next calendar project
After a few cups of coffee with Jan Tromp we agreed to work together on a project. His father had established the society back in 1980. And the Lourens River is close to his heart. As we put together an agreement I started work on the watercolours.
Collecting the visual material was a significant part of the project. There are places along the river that are magical in their beauty. Vergelegen Estate welcomes guest who want to walk along the river. However some of the areas along the river are a little unsafe. In Victoria Park people sleep along the river bank. It is not a place to be after sunset. Even the community under the bridge on Main Road in Somerset West present issues. I have once been accosted and came close to being robbed passing the area on foot just after dark.
Also it is remarkably difficult to gain access to the upper reaches of the river. To get material for my paintings of the source I hiked over the ridge from Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch and down the Lourens River gorge. A great day’s walk.
But for the most part our river is a great joy to appreciate.
The images below were created for the calendar.