negotiable

It did not escape the notice of the new owners of the farm that Lesley’s small, efficient and well-appointed cottage was desirable, a place for a manager or accountant in the agribiz world of which the farm was now a unit. The old lady in the cottage was an obstacle rather than someone living her life, and when her lease came to an end, they refused to renew. They needed the place, they said.

Lesley didn’t want to move. She held out for over ten years and then, in about 1983, the eviction became final. As I recall, the landlord was getting a new manager or an extra one. But Lesley regarded things as negotiable. She persuaded the farm owners to allow her to extend the studio and garage by adding a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. They finally agreed, and once again, this time in her sixties, she built, on the cheap, within a few metres of where she had lived on Luitingh’s Guest Farm.

Her last home, like all her other homes, was beautiful. In addition to the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, it had a wide deck overlooking the tobacco fields and beyond to the granite koppies and folded hills of the Lowveld. Meditation and the details of the Radhasoami faith filled her inner being, but the axis of the house was the studio, the biggest room, with wide glass doors leading onto the deck. 398 lesley on stoepThis was where she kept her paintings and equipment, and plied her art, and stored it and the many tools it required, brushes, blades and cutters of every description, feathers, easels, palettes, crayons, watercolours, inks, pastels and pencils of every hardness. It smelled of creosote, oil-paints, grass mats, and all the particular compounds and chemicals that are the staples of the artist trained in the deep-reaching tradition – French chalk, zinc white, lead white, linseed oil, pine turpentine, pearl glue, the dust of crayons and pastels, the scent of pencil shavings and of wood, of jute hessian, and of hardboard.

__________

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