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Antjie Donder comes visiting

May 3, 2011

As I explained in a previous post, the work I’m doing for the Comix show involves written stories, dolls and drawings.  In some cases the story came first, in others the doll did.  Antjie Donder came to life first as a doll, and then I created a story for her.  Here she is as a doll:

In the story she introduces some chaos into the life of a lonely little girl called Lauren.  A bit like the “cat in the hat”, which I used to thoroughly scare me.  Here is an extract from “Chasing Frogs”  in which Lauren first sees Antjie Donder coming down the road pushing her trolley:

Lauren climbed onto the couch and opened the window. She pushed her face against the burglar bars. The voice was coming closer. There was a noise like someone shaking a cutlery drawer and the tinny thumping of a small radio. Somebody was singing:

My naam is Antjie Donder, Antjie, Antjie Donder

First came a shopping trolley, filled to overflowing with bags, newspapers and various bits of junk. Behind the trolley was a woman,broad as an oak tree and dressed in an ancient ball gown that strained across her chest and shoulders. Layers of plastic sheeting was wrapped around her waist. She sang as she came.

Antie, Antjie Donder!”

She stopped when she was level with Lauren’s window and switched off the hissing radio. Lauren looked down at her in fascination. She had never seen anyone like this before. The woman’s face was as brown as leather and looked as tough as an old shoe. She had a great beak of a nose and her hair stood away from her head in coils like knotted horns. She looked up at Lauren and smiled.

“Good morning, Madam! Got any broken things for me? Toys? Electric?”

Lauren laughed. “No, I’m not the Madam!”

“So where’s the Madam, then?”

Oops, thought Lauren. Not supposed to speak to strangers. But what now? It would be rude not to respond.

“My mother is not home.”

The woman smiled. She turned her head a little, peering past her hooked nose like bird looking at a worm. “Not home? That’s sad.”

Antjie’s outfit changed quite a bit from her initial doll form, to the story, to the drawing which I just started today.  Somehow what is possible to create on small-scale in scraps of fabric is different from what works in words, and needs even more adjustments when you turn it into lines on paper:

Looking at it now, I think I need to exaggerate her nose a bit more.  I want it to look like a hatchet blade.  Her hands also look far too genteel.  I need to make them rougher.  Maybe it’s the nails that are the problem… too manicured:

And that’s all for now 🙂

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