02 December 2010 by Chris Marais

Man of the Marico

In real life, Groot Marico is a tiny village on the way from Johannesburg to the Botswana border. However, because of the literary status accorded it by one Herman Charles Bosman, who placed many of his great short stories in this setting, it is probably the best-known South African village in the world.

The latest object of Bosman memorabilia in the Groot Marico is an excellent bust made of the great writer, complete with his jauntily-perched hat and all. I remember paying a brief visit once to the artist, Johan Moolman, who had settled into an old pioneer house outside the town - but I could have stayed all day.

You entered through an enormous open stoep overlooking the dense bushveld, and suddenly found yourself in the dark coolth of his voorkamer-kitchen-dining room. It was a typical artist’s interior, arrayed with a jumble of objects: charcoal sketches of a Hindu deity, balancing stones over hewn wood, a bronze head of Godfrey Moloi, late Godfather of Soweto, hurricane lamps, old Zulu pots and a bag of fresh Boxer tobacco. In an enamel dish were seven fresh, farm-muck-encrusted, free-range eggs.

A superb mature turkey strutted outside, gobbling all the while. “I must try to get him a mate”, said Johan thoughtfully as he brewed up his special blend of coffee.

Moolman’s World is the universe of neon, “found” veld objects, ancient mythologies, Afrikaner legend and interactive work. He exhibited and sold his art at the Millennium Gallery in Johannesburg.

I found the ‘Bosman Head’ on a visit to Groot Marico, where I met Egbert van Bart and his wife Santa, who run the Herman Charles Bosman Literary Society and stage a Bosman Weekend every October.

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