My current Masters research project is situated in the Breede River Valley and the focus is threatened idigenous flowers; specifically I am looking at the vegetation type: Breede Alluvium Fynbos.
“Raaswater” is the Afrikaans name of the small holding situated at the foot of the Brandwacht Mountains in Worcester, where my maternal grandmother farmed with export grapes in the 1950s. My grandmother named the farm after the raging sound of the rolling boulders of the Hartebees River which used to course through the property. Today the farm’s name is no longer relevant; the river has been reduced to a trickle which only flows once a year after the seasonal winter rain has fallen.
The Hartebees River, together with numerous tributaries from the surrounding mountains, feeds into the Breede River. The river system has deposited fertile, mineral rich alluvium soil throughout the valley which forms the habitat of the indigenous vegetation type Breede Alluvium Fynbos. In the 17th century, this valley teemed with wild life and was used as a hunting ground and grazing territory by the indigenous Khoekhoe culture. Today a significant part of the valley is occupied by vineyards; it has become one of South Africa’s most prolific wine production areas. The Breede River valley is a landscape where struggles over indigenous habitat and agricultural expansion are frequent. At present it is a focus area of SANBI as it is the habitat of a large percentage of highly threatened indigenous flora in critical need of protection.
I have visited the farm and surrounds and collected some clay soil from the river. These paintings are made with the river soil and Alizarin Crimson Pigment on board. The top one is called "Brandwacht". The next work is called "Raaswater".