My creative world
If Horace, the Roman poet in the years BC, was right in saying that a picture is a poem without words, then Wakkerstroom’s Frances Kendall has to be an exquisite poet. She is, among other things, a magnificent artist who paints anything that speaks to her heart, from portraits that have an old world charm to landscapes that allow you to almost feel the crisp breeze in the painted scenes.
Frances has an exceptional artistic streak! Besides painting, she is also a published author. She is a grounded and realistic person, and this shines through in her art. The books she wrote and co-wrote are non-fiction, tackling real-world issues.
This inspiring artist was born and raised in Kenya, where her father worked in education. When the family relocated to Johannesburg, it was a huge culture shock for her. “I was a teenager at the time and I desperately missed my school and the friends I had made over the years. The school I attended in Mombasa was very different to Johannesburg.”
My first book was about raising children, followed by a few political books and a book about the difference between men and women
She started drawing from a very young age. “My mother kept many of my childhood drawings. I was very much a fairy girl; most of my drawings were fairies back then. I still draw from my mind’s eye. For some of my work now, I use a photograph as reference, but then you add your own uniqueness to the image.”
She studied Fine Arts at the University of Witwatersrand. “After university, I put my paint brush down to explore the world and do some travelling. I raised my three daughters in Johannesburg and I wrote books. My first book was about raising children, followed by a few political books and a book about the difference between men and women.”
It was her husband who introduced her to the concept of libertarianism. “Libertarianism is about freedom without interfering with others.”
Nelson Mandela was such a charismatic man with a strong personality. You could immediately feel you were in the presence of a special person. Winnie was exactly the same.
She co-wrote a book with her husband, Leon Louw, entitled ‘South Africa: the Solution’ in the late 80s. “Leon did lectures on his ideas and visions and I did research which I added to his vision and compiled it into book format. The book did really well internationally. Winnie Mandela was a friend and sent Nelson a copy of the book while he was imprisoned. My children and her grandchildren attended school together, so we spent a fair amount of time together and got to know each other quite well. My husband was on the council of a university in the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela was also on the council. He was such a charismatic man with a strong personality. You could immediately feel you were in the presence of a special person. Winnie was exactly the same.”
My last fling with writing is in the pipeline. As a young adult, I travelled from England through Africa. Along the way, I wrote a diary to my parents. I’m now transcribing my diary entries
All her books were well received and some were even translated into several different languages. “My last fling with writing is in the pipeline. As a young adult, I travelled from England through Africa. Along the way, I wrote a diary to my parents. I’m now transcribing my diary entries. After this, I think I will be done with writing.”
It was only in 2005, after many paintless years, that she finally decided to pick up her brushes again. “In between writing, politics and my dance studio, I felt the need to return to my creative self. My first project was to paint my daughters. I painted three individual paintings portraying their personalities and uniqueness in each. Eventually I will give them their paintings, but for now I want to keep that part of them close to me.”
Wakkerstroom has a way of growing on you
Frances’ sister is an avid birder and since 2000, she has often gone to Wakkerstroom to visit her sister in the small, quaint town. As it is with Wakkerstroom, she soon fell in love with the peace, beauty and tranquillity of the town. “Wakkerstroom has a way of growing on you. My friend Arun Govender and I decided it was time to leave the hustle and bustle of city life, so we bought a plot of land to build our houses. It is a pleasure for me to have her as a neighbour; there is nothing negative about having your best friend as a neighbour. My husband is not quite ready to retire, but eventually he will join me here.” She was given the mammoth task of painting an aerial map of the town for their brochure. “It was a challenge getting the small details right, but I really enjoyed it.” Frances donated the painting to the Wakkerstroom Tourism Association. “It is sometimes hard to let go of one of your original paintings, but I feel this was for a good cause.”
Northern KZN & Midlands Get It July 2018