In this, her 89th year, Heather Maltby of Silvermine Village is using her last exhibition at Kirstenbosch, to speak out against fracking in the Karoo.
“The fact that I will be 89 this year and still painting furiously for exhibitions seems to intrigue others, but I have decided this will be my last one,” she says.
Not that she is packing away her paintbrushes. In fact, the artist – renown for her large mural paintings, one of which is the much loved rendition of Peer’s Cave in the Fish Hoek Museum – is about to follow a yen to an entirely new style. “I feel like different colours, and making large, broad brush strokes,” she says, “maybe something abstract, even.”
The collection of work she currently has, shows no leanings towards that.
The work is detailed and fine, measured to life-like perfection with sunlit hues of farmlands, flowers, and filled with the glorious light and landscapes of her muse: the wide-open, living, giving, not so empty lands of the Karoo.
“I will never lose the fascination that the Karoo holds for me and so many others. And by the people living and working there – the fishermen, “karretjie mense” and diggers in the soil, the daisies and
the isolated lonely-looking farm houses are intriguing mysteries,” she says.
She says she is still very concerned about environmental matters and at the moment fracking in the Karoo is high on her list, as she loves the area, and derives so much pleasure from painting it.
“My car’s old so I can’t drive out there myself but I do go on tours and need to go again soon, for fresh inspiration,” she says.
She describes herself as an art student still and laughs as she says she hopes to “get it right” sometime.
She’s been getting it right for many years already though, with frequent exhibitions and enough sales to fund further excursions into the Karoo.
“I’ve lived in Noordhoek for over 40 years and my husband Ted and I were very involved in environmental issues in the valley,” she says.
The couple started the campaign to stop open-cast kaolin mining on Chapman’s Peak and were able to collect over 50 000 signatures on “an Earth Day to remember,” Ms Maltby says.
“If the rains ever come, I can spend more time in my beloved garden here in Silvermine Village, where I have lived for 21 years,” she says. The vegetable garden is planted and waiting for rains, the front garden is a picture in its own rights.
Ms Maltby is one of a group of artists who will be showing their paintings at the Sanlam Hall in Kirstenbosch until Sunday April 30.
The exhibition is open 10am to 5pm daily.