In my last post I put up pictures of some sculptural pendants in the form of buildings, that I had carved in wax. Harald cast them yesterday and they came out perfect. I have finished them, leaving a host of imperfections. I am very pleased with them.

Here they are. I photographed them in golden morning light, which gave the silver the wrong colour – so I have rendered them in B&W. There’s a lot of detail. Click to enlarge.


I had this idea of making some pendants which showed the fronts of imagined buildings. I opted for wax. It would give me the imperfect, hand made textures that I want.

I have carved these waxes and sprued them up. (Sprues are the channels through which the metal will flow when it’s cast.)

These are cell-phone snaps of the things I made. If you click on them, you will see more detail. Each has tiny figures. The pendants are all on the same scale. The smaller ones are about 20mm x 50mm.


Now comes the moment of anxiety when I hand them over to Harald for casting. Will all the parts fill? Will there be porosities, or other problems? Harald is usually pretty good, but shit happens. We’ll do it after Easter and I’ll post pics.


I’m not much given to illustrating poems, but this acrylic painting on paper  does  somewhat illustrate a poem of mine – the first in my forthcoming book with Left Field Poetry, The Craft: Selected Poems 1989 – 2016. The image won’t be in or on the book, but here it is.



Relaxed in the flow of things, we float
Down the wide river in a small boat.
There is nothing to do but to pluck
With leisured fingers on the lute,
Let the song rise in the throat
And spill over the water, or not.

The boat drifts slowly. On either side
The landscape passes like a long scroll
Full of intricate detail. Each tributary’s slide
Into the main stream makes the wide
River wider. How gradually we glide
Seawards, how vivid the afternoon sky.

The different water-birds around us
Vanish and return to the surface,
Drops sparkling. They are full of business
But we are caught up with luxurious
Late day warmth, the lute idly plucked,
The possibility of a kiss

Far over the river sounds can be heard:
A bull bellowing from his pen,
The high chaa chaa of a gliding water-bird
And the hint of the water’s gurgle
Against distant banks. The returning herd
Answers the bull. The boat drifts on.

Six plums tied in a cloth, some bread,
Are all our simple provisions,
Along with half a bottle of cheap red.
All day we have followed the delicate thread
Of the lute. We glide and sing. Ahead
The huge moon rising, almost red.

All day we drifted downriver in our flimsy boat,
The dark cargo ships slid by like dreams.
Now we are beyond the delta. We float
On calm water, deep blue and remote.
There is no land beyond the wet
Horizon. The stars are coming out.





I got this gorgeous amethyst and wanted to set it into a ring. The trouble was the size and depth of the stone. I decided to carve a pair of hands gripping the girdle of the stone in their fingertips. This would allow the deep basket shape that I needed. The stone is so deep that it only just misses the finger.

First I carved a blank from some green carving wax – basically a piece of wax with a hole for the finger and a space to hold the stone.

Onto that I imagined, and drew, with a lot of checking my own crossed hands, the hands that would hold the stone, then removed whatever was not fingers. Here are some stages of the process.

After a bit of sharpening up, the wax was sent to Harald for casting.Then came filing, polishing and engraving.

Here are some pics of the final item. Click on them to enlarge.



Here, from the small trove at the Gerricke Library, (more here and here) is a letter that my father wrote to Ingrid from the Cope family farm, Rudolf’s Hoek near Mooi River in Natal. It is dated 10 – 2- 65. It is especially interesting, to me, when he talks about writing.

Please click on them to see them at a reasonable size. In the gallery, if you right-click on an individual image and select ‘view image’ you can see it a bit bigger.

316-ingrid-on-beachIn my last post I told about the Ingrid Jonker papers at the Gerricke Library in Stellenbosch.

Here are three letters from Ingrid Jonker to my father Jack Cope,

Letter dated 27/7/64

Letter dated May 1965

Letter dated 28 June, 1965 – less than a month before her death on the 19th July.

Please click on them to see them at a reasonable size. In the gallery, if you right-click on an individual image and select ‘view image’ you can see it a bit bigger. More here.


A small bundle of Ingrid Jonker’s papers survived the theft, sale and disappearance of the bulk of her literary estate, and ended up, via a circuitous route, in the Special Collections at the Gerricke Library at the University of Stellenbosch. There they have remained in a safe for thirteen years, under embargo.

My friend Ílyas Tunç, who has translated many South African poets into Turkish, is busy creating a Turkish book on Jonker, and asked me if there were any papers available. I remembered the stuff at Stellenbosch. There’s not a lot of material, but it’s interesting stuff, including love-letters, photographs and clippings.

After some wrangling, the embargo has been lifted. I went there yesterday, and they allowed me to photograph the materials. Copyright on Jonker’s material expired in 2015.

This means that there is no restriction on their publication, and I have decided to set them free. If you want to, you can go to the Gerricke Library (do call them for an appointment) and see these things yourself. They will have a different resonance for most people to what they have for me, since I knew the people involved, albeit long ago. But something of their passion comes through in their materiality. The coffee-stain on the letter, the marginal note, all give a feeling of the physical presence of those actors in our literary heritage.

Included in the bundle are two unsent letters from Ingrid Jonker to André Brink. A note in another hand (perhaps that of Anna Jonker, Ingrid’s sister or possibly Petrovna Mettlerkamp, a Jonker biographer) mentions that the letters were ‘discovered among Uys Krige’s papers after his death in 1988.’

Here’s Janet Malcolm on the unsent letter, taken from her magisterial book on Plath and Hughes, The Silent Woman.


And here are the letters, with the accompanying notes. Please click on them to see them at a reasonable size. In the gallery, if you right-click on an individual image and select ‘view image’ you can see it a bit bigger. More Jonker letters here and here.