Farewell, Frou-Frou & Fish…

Righty-ho. Um… I am taking a 365-day absence from public blogging — to finally write my book — in the most secret of secret solitude. Ed has also moved onto greeners pastures, so – thank you to Ed for his words, and especially those who have followed this short-lived blog, and even nominated it for awards!

And so, I say a bittersweet adieu…



And so, head down in fierce determination, her wild heart free at last, she set off on her adventure, her exploration into the thousand pages of her very own unknown…


“Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance. Good-bye is short and final, a word with teeth sharp to bite through the string that ties past to the future.” {John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent}


“No, this is not a goodbye. It is an encounter.”


“With every goodbye, you learn.” {Veronica A. Shoffstall}



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Lightness of Heart…

The hunt for a decent online program to put together a slideshow of photographs into a video continues – with as much patience as I can muster…

I used this song to tie all the photographs together: images of my little girl unfolding, a reverse origami lotus flower, from birth to now. Almost four years old…

The tender joy, the poignancy of light, the sense of simple celebration —- this song tells of my love for her like smiling through tears…


January 19, 2013 · 9:45 am

“how to write a poem: catch the air around a butterfly”

'Danaus plexippus (i)'  -- Acrylic on Canvas { by Lisa Roberts } 2006

‘Danaus plexippus (i)’ — Acrylic on Canvas { by Lisa Roberts } 2006

Glancing back over my shoulder, the year behind me is a chrysalis. At the time, it felt less like a restful growing and preparing for flight and freedom, than a  tightly claustrophobic, inescapable nightmare. But now, that chrysalis is beautiful to me.

My child’s 6 weeks of school holidays at home with me was a blessed frustration — time to work, craft and dream played a spiteful little game of hide-and-seek with me —- a game which I tried desperately not to play: out of that relentless, shameful mother-guilt of wanting time to simply be me, and torn the other way into swimming down deep into the magical, mysteriously beautiful ocean my child.

Moths and butterflies have always captivated me. For their fragility, and fleetingness of life. The miraculous meaning of their life-cycle. And what we can learn from the perfect blue-print of nature…

“…a butterfly is like the soul of a person, it dries out in captivity.”     { Marlene van Niekerk, Agaat }

“You can only chase a butterfly for so long.”  { Jane Yolen, Prince Across the Water }

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Shadow Sailing…

This new year has swept me off my feet with flabbergastingly unforeseen excitement: a whirlwind! My life is a carousel on dizzying fast-forward — and glittery technicolour! And so, in lieu of a long, wordy post, here is one of the most poignant beautifulnesses that has besieged me since I last wrote.


Last week, I was blessed with the pleasure of meeting Frankie Beagle. Songbird, poetess, Joburg siren. (Hang on – that was meant to
be a dreamy allusion to singing mermaids – but the combination of ‘Joburg’ with ‘siren’ reminds me only of crime stats.) Anyway. Watching her perform and feeling her music wash over me, and her words weave indelible images around me — a cocoon of dreamlights and waking shadows, needs its very own blogpost.

My photo of Frankie Beagle mesmerising us, deep inside the tiny little womb-like theatre of The Alexander Bar!

Here, in the meantime, is her ‘Sailor Song’ video which was a collaboration with a shadow-puppeteer artist. Magical… 

PS. &Fish managed to find a whiff of internet connectivity in Manang on New Years Eve, and sent us a Facebook message full of tremulous excitement — sounding incredibly awestruck and almost overwhelmed at the immense, speech-robbing beauty of the mountains they are hiking through.

“We plan to see in the New Year by drinking sh*tloads of Masala Tea — alcohol at this altitude is not a good idea!”


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Believe in Magic?

Quite when I became a bit of a Christmas cynic, I’m not sure… Somewhere, around my varsity years, perhaps, when I allowed my excitable young mind to be, brainwashed/tainted (?) by the academicisation of art and life. Kinda cold-hearted, huh? The magical Christmas so lovingly created for me by my parents was almost destroyed by the skeptical socio-economic analysis of consumerism — which unavoidably defines all that has Christmas become. A sort of adult version of the horror an older sibling defiantly inspires by the the earth-shattering divulgence that Father Christmas is, in fact, only Dad dressed up in a red felt suit and cottonwool beard. Nasty. And, I suppose, an inevitable part of ‘growing up’. Yet, (*sigh*), we all continue to ache for the childlike innocence and magic. So – how can we get it back?

Have kids!

Snow White and her barking, walking dog she christened 'Go To The Beach'!

Snow White, says, ‘Woof!’ and her barking, walking dog she christened ‘Go To The Beach’!

Or, um… not. Perhaps nieces and nephews are enough. Hang on — a fantastic idea: the little ones in orphanages and the children’s wards the non-private hospitals! Yesterday I undertook a giant purge of Layla’s continually perpetuating hoard of toys. 90% of the toys have been gifts and ‘move ons’, so it is an incredibly satisfying joy to move this happiness onto the little ones who don’t have the love, peace and family presence that my little princess has. The plan is to dress up in the self-same Father Christmas get-up my dad wore 30 years ago, and deliver the presents with love to the children that I can reach out to.So: I am starting a movement amongst parents and their children to share their love and kindness in this way. Perhaps even sharing-by-giving some of your Christmas decorations to decorate the wards if you don’t have little ones with toys to share out?

Another aspect of this project to involve our own children in choosing from their own toys those they would like to share out, in understanding that others have so much less than them, teaching them openness of heart and gratitude for those who love, cherish, protect and provide for them. Who’d like to jump on board this Christmas-Can-Be-Magical-Again Sleigh?

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” { Mother Teresa }

Ed's fellow traveller, Lauren Ker, snapped this view of heaven - and Everest in the distance...

Ed’s fellow traveller, Lauren Ker, snapped this view of heaven – and Everest in the distance…

Mountain Tamer!

Mountain Tamer!

Mr Fisher has taken a mountain-taming sabbatical in the Himalayas for a few weeks — so I’ll be flying solo till the end of January. But: expect exquisite imagery and stories from the Ed(itor)! Apparently his first post will be titled: ‘Crampons & Tampons’… (*wicked chuckle*)


December 25, 2012 · 12:19 pm

Naked Love

Nude (i) {mixed media / cold-pressed 300gsm Fabriano / 100 x 150cm }

Nude (i) {mixed media / cold-pressed 300gsm Fabriano / 100 x 150cm } SOLD

Chalky gesso stained with night-black calligraphy ink, drying in deep swathes of rapid brushtrokes — and between layers, I’ll grab this writing time. Another commission, and this time – a portrait. Unclothed, intimate. A gesture for her lover, above his bed.

“For so many centuries, the exchange of gifts has held us together. It has made it possible to bridge the abyss where language struggles.”
― Barry Lopez, About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory

Entering into this gift exchange of theirs, I feel a strange discomfort. A necessary sort of intrusion. Without the involvement of the artist and her ability to capture a subject’s external and internal likeness, this poetically loving gift wouldn’t be possible. And so, unwittingly, I am witness to her devoted passion for this man she loves, and – I believe – will always love.

“It isn’t possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”
― E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

This is, without a doubt, a far less conflicted commission to undertake than the previous one which was almost a slap in the face, but one which I had no choice but to accept as smilingly and gratefully as possible – because, hell, quite simply, I needed the money. I have certain artist friends who refuse – in exaggerated (almost comical) revulsion at even being approached to undertake a commission of this sort. University cultivated this self-same aesthetic bigotry in me — but it earned me nothing but confused friends and mindless arguments where egos and values clashed. Ugly. Life and its painful twists and exciting turns grows us, whether we like or not. Whether we even see it or not. And this is one particular area Life has gifted me a new perspective on.

Nude (ii) {graphite / 300gsm Fabriano / 40 x 50cm } SOLD

Nude (ii) {graphite / 300gsm Fabriano / 40 x 50cm } SOLD

(When this portrait is finished – and given – I’ll post its photograph back here. So be sure to follow this post, below!)


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Flight of Faith

{ And birds fluttered around her, writing ‘yes’ in the sky. }

As promised, though a week later than I’d hoped, here is the second post about birds, wings and flight. Flightlessness. Broken wings – or staying grounded to nest and nurture. Nests, nesting and nestedness. Migration. And all the array of birds — from cold, precision-hunters with talons of ripping strength, to the almost magically tiny hummingbird that flits about my memories and dreams to this day after I captured it in my cupped hands (heart?) as a little girl. An iridescent emerald wish.

{What with our adoring addiction to music, here is a Bernard Fanning song you can listen to while you read this post: Songbird — and, the perfect opportunity to unveil our newest writer: Joshua Grierson: songbird-extraordinaire and poet, this man will be rocking our blog to the moon!}

Joshua Grierson

Joshua Grierson

Skipping through pages and pages of images on humming birds, ornithology museum specimens and nests, it feels like an entire book’s worth of writing wants to pour out of me. And, the sheer impossibility of writing for more than just these ten paltry more minutes means I’ll need to write at least a thousand more blog posts to cover my thoughts. (*wistful sigh*)

“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” { J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird }

Every time I write a you-just-got-started-and-then-you-leave-us-in-the-lurch post, I get a severe tongue-lashing about it from a long-time reader (which I am already quaking in fear about!) So, apologies – but perhaps you didn’t have time for a long post anyway. (*hopeful wink*)

PS. Watching the galleries being endlessly inked upon the bodies of my sisters and friends, I find myself wishing tattoos could be washed off at random… (*sigh of resigned regret*) I’d become bored within just weeks of seeing the same picture etched into my skin. I grow out of my personal iconography… journey through and then past my private little symbols, leaving them behind with a certain wistfulness of relief. Motifs-in-memoriam, I suppose.

… fly away with me …

However, the symbolism of the bird is etched so deeply into the muscle of my heart as to be indelible. Ineradicable.  It sings to me, hauntingly. It follows me wherever I go. So… were I to do the inked thing, this is what I would have:


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You as Music


After a messy patch of drunken nights and lost cell phones, I  slowly became aware that I was listening to more music than I ever had previously. Whether at work, in my car, running, or in search of concerts…  songs were suddenly a central force. In the wake of a breakup from a 10-year relationship, I was finding catharsis and a friend in music.

My playlists grew like tropical plants and I found that if I were to identify a constant companion, a surrogate parent, through this reeling period, it was my iPod.

A traffic jam of late night cab rides always left a baseline, from where I had been, vibrating in my ears. On the many nights that I woke at 4am – from the metabolisation of shooters into simple sugars – a song always seemed to follow me out of my sleep. A semi-conscious stumble to the tap for water frequently had a backing track.

Edward Sharpe, Metric, The Shins were like a succubus tagging along from a dream– whispering in my ear. I hadn’t been so dysfunctional, since my early 20’s, and not since my early 20’s did I have such a primal connection to music. I even found myself trawling for Vinyl. I was turning into a hipster without hair.

Memory is powerfully conducted by music (and smell – but that’s another kettle of fish). Even Alzheimer’s patients remember songs from their youth long after the recognition of loved ones has faded from memory. Research also indicates that music constricts the rate at which memory trickles away. In fact, music therapy is now an accepted form of treatment for those with Alzheimer’s.

This may explain why songs can surface such crystalline recollections of times and spaces from the distant past – they are inextricably linked to what we remember and thus who we are. I’m positive that certain albums I’m listening to right now will be unsettling to listen to 10 years on because they will be such intoxicating reminders of this period in my life.

Music is so much of who we are, that the few documented cases of children who have been raised outside of society (The Jungle Book, take one) have reportedly been observed humming and singing to themselves, without ever having heard any form of music outside of bird song.

The brain is wired for music. Unsurprisingly, it has also been proven (by bloody scientists once again) that music alleviates depression.  Although, whoever conducted this research never factored Tanita Tikaram’s Valentine Heart into their case study.

You are what you eat. You are also what you hear.  It’s a strange and comforting thought to consider that should your memory ever fade on a grand scale, you would still, for some time, retain a selection of songs. This playlist would offer a metonymic snapshot of who you were and what was important to you. The memories of your loved ones would be gone; but they would still find an unexpected form in a compilation of music that they helped to compose.

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Silken Sutures

by Lisa Roberts { for sale }

by Lisa Roberts { for sale }

‘Listening to you approach,
       The press of each footfall, soft absence inbetween,
  I feel a kernel of utter completeness.
            Then time hustles forward, trailing us like silk.’ 

 .   .  .  Read the rest of the yarn here: bit.ly/VhNYMQ

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The Waterclock Secrets of Moths

Mother & Child { November 2012 }

Mother & Child { November 2012 }

Sporadism. Induced by motherhood and some rather unsual circumstances over the last year. However, the beauty behind walking through fire and over mountains is the renewing, refining, reinventing and restoring of the soul and one’s uniqueness and role in the world. My writing and art, in particular, reflect an incredible growth in its depth, meaning and beauty. (If I may say so myself?! Saying that, the other area of my heart that has grown is self-confidence and finally seeing myself in a the light of my new, adult, unfettered reality.)

And so, after always cringing at giving interested parties the link to my online portfolio (due to fear of rejection – and knowing my work was created to grab acclaiming attention, and not out of the trueness of ‘me’), I am suddenly excited to showcase my new work. I have, in the last week, conceptualised a new way of putting my work together into portfolio format that is entirely ‘me’: it is unstructured and will grow organically alongside each painting and drawing, charting its journey with a map of anecdotal commentaries and photographs.  Here it is: Lisa Roberts Drawings & Paintings.

And, out of my love of sudden, utter randomness, a phrase which fell into my lap just moments after I picked up a moth from my dusty studio floor, to keep and begin a series of little drawings of:

‘… the waterclock secrets of moths.’  {Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude’ }

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