My story begins on a farm in Kyalami, South Africa, where my family grew and produced most of the food we ate. Testing my ability in the world around me began when I was a teenager riding on horseback. My brother Leni and I would wander the plains searching for our cattle; Jersey bulls, cows, heifers and calves. These long bouts in the saddle served to help me reflect on my future. I knew my prince was out there somewhere and I was impatient to meet him. It happened in 1966, I met fellow art student Richard Smith, the most handsome, talented and most irreverent student at the Johannesburg School of Art. We married in 1970 and started out our married life in hip London. Our darling boy Bevil was born the following year. We returned to South Africa the following year to offer our son a life in the country. Our friend, David Barritt invited us to stay with him in Honeydew where there was a large community of young artists, journalists, scientists and filmmakers.We were living at Wilgespruit, the South African Council of Churches (which was described as a "Den of Iniquity" by the then appartheid regime) when our sweet daughter Camilla was born in 1980. Bevil was 9. Richard and I wanted to spend all our time with our beloved children so we mostly worked from home. At that time Richard was still working as a political cartoonist. He was outraged by the political climate of the time and penned the most biting, satirical cartoons "Smith and Abbott Ink"which he started with David Barritt in 1972. They published "Smith and Abbott's Greatest Hits in 1975. He took part in several international exhibitions and was awarded the "Standard Bank Cartoonist of the Year" twice.His work was all black and white then. I was painting and encouraged him to use color. He developed his color illustrations in Leadership magazine and soon after that was illustrating book jackets.My mother, Mimi introduced Richard to Everard Read who was running a successful Art Gallery in Johannesburg. He had his first show there in 1986. My mother died in 1986 which was a great sadness to us all. She was the bravest and most spiritually minded person I have ever met.Born Marcelle Billard she was 18 years old when she served her first term in solitary confinment as a political prisoner in a German prison during the second world war. 2 1/2 years later the American Allied Forces liberated these poor souls. It was the most wonderful day of her life - she ate a whole loaf of bread, chewed chewing gum and smoked cigarretts with American soldiers on her way back to Luxembourg by train. She never lost her love for America. Leni and I were brought up reading American comic books, wore blue jeans and drank sodas. She would have been so proud of me if she'd known I'd publish a book in America. Thank you David Richard, Vital Health Publishing, for giving me the opportunity!
Tu viens de nous quitter dans le sud de l'Afrique,
Sans preavis, helas! sans billet de retour ...
Toi, l'intrepide enfant a l'ame romantique
Tu fermas tes beaux yeux loin de ton Luxembourg:
Livrant au desespoir tes enfants, ta famille
Sur ce volcan ardent de leur pays natal
Ou repose l'epoux, le soleil de ta vie,
Et l'APARTHEID dechaine un desastre fatal.
Ton esprit revolte par l'humaine folie
Prevoyait pour refuge un coin de l'Australie
Quand ton coeur maternel, de chagrin, s'est brise -
Je garderai de toi la lumineuse image
De tes seize printemps egayant mon village
Lors d'un joyeux sejour ... dans un lointain passe.
(Mimy Billard, ancienne deportee d'ANRATH, est decedee fin novembre 1986 a Johannesburg, Afrique du Sud).
Rappel REVUE MENSUELLE DE LA L.P.P.D.
janvier - fevrier 1987