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  • In South Africa
    Hi-Q repairs car tyres
    7 say it all

    Back in the days at school I found myself in Form 4G, the G being for Geography. A rudimentary system classifying each class by a subject name, sure, but one that worked in grouping about 260 Form 4 girls into something manageable. Ask me, I had twin girls and have a pretty good idea of what wouldn't have transpired if another 258 had been added. I landed up in 4G because one of my 6 subjects was Art.

    No, 4A was not for Art or IQ but for Accounting.

    Which I couldn't take because I was doing Math, ... and Art. Nope, way back when you couldn't study those 2 subjects simultaneously, by decree of the education department. Try convincing my lecturers now!

    Anyhow, there were about 5 of us in 4G who would disappear to the art room when the rest of the girls giggled off to their geography class. There we met up with 'spares' from the other 9 classes. Like Inge. She was studying Science and French, ... and Art. We were all classed a bunch of spares because our parents saw no future for us going forward with art and I think we tallied about 11 or 15 once you put us all together. (I did say 'back in the days".)

    Actually come to think of it, all our classes were put together by grouping the necessary bits and bobs from all the Form 4 classes, taking into account the additional limitation imposed on us girls where, studying one subject on either Higher or Standard grade, we couldn't be taught together in one class. Let not too much speed or delay impede our education.

    Except our 'home' class subject (yes, that one subject that was held in the 'home' classroom - the one room where, on arrival at school, we shoved the contents of our book-bags, which we didn't want to lug around with us all day, deep into our very own nominated hinge-lidded desks. Racks or lockers hadn't been commissioned by the education department yet) and yes, our home classroom was where we congregated for History lessons.

    It all made sense to the department, the headmistress, the deputy headmistresses and all 74 teachers, even the groundsman. The 3 school secretaries might have had a problem with it; they kept running in and out of the headmistress' office a lot. But then the school was geared for and did handle another 4 forms, two below us and 2 above us as well. About 1400 girls in total.

    Teenage girls.
    Such convoluted machinations seemed to be a prerequisite that actually worked – during school hours.

    Back in the art room (which was a basement) Lesley and I founded our followings. Let's put it this way. Auto-nominated leaders by others, Lesley and I go back as far as our first organised art classes together in Standard 1 (Grade 3 to most of the world out there). She has her style and I have mine. We are very amicable and really enjoy what the other is doing with their art. But more than just lines on paper separate us.

    She gained her followers by just drawing and painting her way and though she enjoyed the acknowledgement, her followers, in my opinion, unfortunately just 'copied', copiously. I, not being one to follow anything since about the age of 3, did my own thing which drew a number of wanna-be's to me but they soon learnt to do the same!

    One glorious day in which ever season purple irises bloom, Lesley scooped one up off the Prep table, settled herself at a desk and got on with the job of "fine art"-ing it. The final piece was a work of art (forgive the pun) but it truly was a phenomenal rendition of the said iris. Darkening from lighter to royal purple tepals unfurled just like this and that, cadmium yellow frilly worms of stamens and thingys lay shrugged and exposed along here and over there, the vibrant green stringed stem angled just so and all the other such that make up an iris exactly where it should be, but on paper in perfect 2D. I even gawped for a while over it. Lesley was chuffed and I was chuffed for her.

    The oohs and aahs went on for quite a while and by the end of that term, 8 more 4G's joined in the disappearing act when geography lessons rolled around to rock in their scheduled slots.

    Now you may be wondering why I cannot for the life of me remember in which season purple irises bloom (or yellow and white ones for that matter – not that they ever featured). From that glorious day onwards, one by basement art room became the home of – or rather was festooned with – small-sized and medium-sized and not-overly-large-sized and most assuredly card-sized renditions of the self-same-angled purple iris for the next 2 and half years. Painted or drawn. Not a single variation of the theme or even the angle, whatsoever.

    Hmmm, must be somewhere in late winter or early spring. I can't say for sure and believe me I still have no want to know. I think I saw more fully bloomed irises indoors during those years than most people would normally see anywhere during a life time.

    It began as a case of something done and done well. Yet even Lesley spent the next 2 years painting and drawing, drawing and painting, rendering the same iris over and over again. Sometimes they actually used real live irises for reference – or desk ornamentation; most of the time it was all from memory. Nearly 18 churned out each day in Art. They were becoming pro's.

    Art was luckily divided into to three basic categories: painting, litho and sculpture and halfway through the first term of Form 5, the 5 of us who refused to acknowledge the existence of irises by then, made our get-away from painting in the basement to litho and sculpture in the art room on the ground floor, which by the way was a healthy distance away.

    And nary any type of any flower found itself acknowledged or depicted in our new art and I don't think any ever will.

    Oh, and come the final practical Art examination nearly 2 years later, Lesley stepped forward and produced another work of art, titled by its theme: 'Unity in Diversity'. It was not of an iris.
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