Thursday, August 25, 2016

Looking at boundaries: a dolos.

(A cautionary note: although I did look up the facts I’m not trying to be as scientific or factual as possible, but rather metaphoric)  

 for a wikipedia image of a dolos see here

Think about the waves breaking over you. Dolos (singular)/dolosse (plural) are used to protect the shore from the action of the waves.  It is a very heavy (20 tons), complex concrete structure designed by South Africans and used extensively along our coast. It looks like a block with four fingers: two T-junction blocks attached perpendicularly. When dolosse are packed together, unlike the sea walls which are constructed in one solid cement and steel wall, they are designed to create a structure which interlocks to form a permeable wall.  

The dolosse dissipate the powerful energy or force of the waves so that the destructive impact is lessened. A dolosse structure is like an artificial coral reef which gives protection to the coastal land from the force of the waves.
Sea walls deflect all the wave energy back towards the ocean and the energy scours the sea scape.  They impact the coast by preventing the natural movement of sand from land to sea; and back and forth. So although it protects the activities on the land from the force of the waves it is not like the dolosse which has a ‘softer’ mechanism and which allows the flow of the waves and animal life to continue while still standing firm when the waves break.  

In life you get boundaries for your protection that are meant to keep things away from you like the nature conservation fences keeping lions on the other side; then you get boundaries that keep everything to yourself like a fence surrounding your home and protecting everything within. Neither is the optimum way of relating to people in your life because you need or want to share, both giving and receiving. The important thing about boundaries is to know when to give or receive, when to protect and when to just stand firm. 
When others interfere with you, challenging your self-esteem, criticizing, humiliating, shaming, and exerting their will on you as if they have all the power it is like the erosive forces of the waves and tides on the coast. This disruption of your emotions, self-worth and self-esteem is like the coast which interfaces between land and sea becoming scoured and broken; you, like the land, are exposed and vulnerable to powerful forces which you experience in other people. You should not allow yourself to become scoured; nor should you scour. 

So you must stand firm when the waves break over you, while not allowing the energy to affect or impact you; but rather hope for new life forms to move back and forth in the safety of the dolos. 
Here are some things to think about, know who you are:  

Where you have come from - your past and your origin, 
Your purpose, skills and talents you have gained over your life time; 
Your values, intentions and motives;
What you want or need from yourself and others;
Who the people are who support you;
Lean on your spiritual support and faith in God.
Know your rights as a person. 
Know you are blessed.
Don’t panic. Breathe slowly and intentionally. Slow your thinking down before you speak. 

We don’t want to create a boundary that is so static that there is no give – like a sea wall- it makes us brittle, but rather we want boundaries like a dolos structure which while withstanding the main force of the tide will also let sea life swim through and the natural exchange of sediment and sand between the coastal shore and sea.  

A warm smile,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Processes: The playful element in creativity - importance of “Playing”

Sometimes, in my workshops, I use the phrase: the playful element in creativity or try being playful. So what do I mean by that?

Do you remember how you played on the beach, ran your hands through the sand to make patterns, splashed the water or played in the park, running, jumping and leaping in the wild belief that you could eventually fly. Do you remember pretending and creating needed objects out of discarded junk? What do you remember about playing as a child? Take time to think about it and write down some of your thoughts. Even those of you who “never had a childhood” I bet you had active imaginations creating scenarios, stories and faraway places where you would rather have been.  

Bring out the child.

Each one of us still carries with us the child we once were. There are the memories and the feelings of childhood. Remember the pure joy of play: there was no responsibility: just time and space to play. What were you like as a child? What colours did you like? Or what toys or games did you enjoy? 

We all can remember being:
·         Curious or ashamed
·         Sharing or selfish
·         Playful or earnest
·         Angry or happy
·         Rebellious or submissive
·         … you can add in your words of what you were like

What is play?

Play is an activity which involves either fun or spontaneity; filled with exploration and experimentation; and it might involve chance. As children, risk taking might come more naturally because we didn’t think of the consequences or the outcomes and now being risk averse hampers our ability to let go and ‘play’ again. There is a freedom in play and normally it doesn’t include work. Games and scenarios evolve; some have rules but others are open ended and full of possibilities. There are no mistakes in play or mistakes can be easily remedied in play by add-libbing. Play may involve role playing or use of similes. 

Games and play involves:
·         Either just Yourself
·         Or Yourself and “the other”
·         Or as in creativity Yourself and creative materials

When you come to my creative workshops I want to encourage you to play with different materials and ideas. I hope that you will feel lost in time and space for the few hours you are here with me.  Stepping out of your comfort zone to risk making mistakes, exploring new possibilities, experimenting with what is at hand just like a child would if they were given the chance.

Why is play important?

Some people have forgotten how to play, others never played and still others were not given the opportunity to play with different creative materials. It is important to find your playful child again and it is important to enjoy play and have fun. You control the possibilities and anything goes. Nothing is too wild to try. Play is a form of entertainment and its relaxing.

Play helps your development as you learn new things, new possibilities, and new ways of doing things. Through the playful element you find new inspiration and break through creative blocks. Being too serious is very adult but it doesn’t serve us well to always be the adult. There are times when we need to take ourselves less seriously… and PLAY.

The importance of the playful element in creativity helps you discover or stumble upon new inspiration. So doing “silly” or playful things should be welcomed into your creative experience.

Here are some verbs to inspire playful art:
doodling, scribbling, splashing, spraying, blowing, flicking, cutting, chopping, dotting, gluing, creating coloured dust, mixing, shaping, colouring, grading, layering, finger-painting, making marks and more.

Play is joyful, peaceful and soulful.  It fosters relaxation. In creativity new seeds of inspiration emerge through play and per chance it becomes something new and unintended. Similes are seen. Metaphors are observed. It is then that you may want to take these seeds of inspiration and “work into them.”

"The playful element" helps you extend your creativity beyond your expectation. It is also used as a device in the journey of self-discovery. 
"The playful element" is one of the many creative processes I encourage in my workshops.

A Warm Smile,
Morag Noffke

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Processes: The importance of “working into” the subject

When I give my clients instruction I sometimes use personal phrases or terms which might need explaining. So what do I mean by working into the subject?

Art can take on a life of its own, if you let it, just as writing can. I see it as an organically creative process. Once you have played with your materials or words you can then move onto working into your subject. Keep in mind about being curious and fascinated and try exploring your subject matter with different ways of looking. Notice and become actively aware of yourself and your subject. 

When the unexpected happens in your art or writing or even in your life you have the choice of ignoring it or being curious and aware by asking yourself questions. Some questions might be “what if…” or “what else could it be?” or  "What could I add, take away or do?” For example if when you spill your coffee and your cup makes some coffee rings you might look at it in a different way (asking: what else could it be?) and then you see a bicycle. Only you can see it. Once you have found your subject that you want to enhance or highlight think of words like accentuate, expand, take away and extend to help you clarify your image.  In order to make it visible to others you need to enhance it, expand it, or add a couple of lines; this is what I mean by working into it. 

Here is an example of geese and their nest which was inspired by coffee cup rings:

Seeds of inspiration come to you in many different forms. You could be given three words and asked to free associate (the first words which come into your mind on hearing a suggested word). The words, or memory or even sentences which you get could be worked into by creating an essay or a poem or journal piece or visual image. 

You can also intentionally play with random marks (with your eyes shut; blowing ink blots; or scribbling etc) and then stand back and view it with the intention of seeing something else.

Here is another example; it was suggested by someone "I see two birds with a little man in the middle. A dodo on the left and flamingo on the right. Go figure..":

By Sandy Bywater

The process of "Working into" comes after your initial seed of inspiration. You need to be curiously expectant to see or hear something; and only you see it. This will be the start of your inspiration but it is the thing that comes before the inspiration which could be the mundane; or an accident, mistake or glitch. (Coffee cup marks; clouds, grain in the wood; shapes in the blankets; sounds you might hear in the engine; a phrase you heard or read; the list is endless)

“Working into it” is about taking the embryonic seeds you find and turning them into something visible.
Sometimes you can come up with new seeds of inspiration through play and per chance it becomes something new and unintended. You create something by chance as it evolves through play and experimentation. You might not have intended a certain image but it “just appears”. Keep yourself open to observing. Be open to what your unconscious brings up for you. Be open to the bizarre or off the wall ideas. How do you observe? 

Notice the colours, shapes and lines you have chosen to use; notice new images presenting themselves – you can turn your page upside down or sideways and see if you can see more: try adding more lines, texture, or different materials.

Notice your feelings while you are creating and while you are observing. What do you feel: joy, anger, awkwardness, frustration, excitement? Ask: does this feeling want more attention and what would it be about? How could it be best expressed?

"Working into" helps you extend your creativity beyond your expectation. It is also used as a device in the journey of self-discovery. 

"Working into" is one of the many creative processes I encourage in my workshops.

A Warm Smile,
Morag Noffke

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Change is a good thing although we don’t always view it to be good when our circumstances start to change. Metamorphosis is, for me, a metaphor for change. I believe that in order to grow and develop as a human being we need to embrace change and this usually means letting go of something in order to take on something new.

Change can be scary. In South Africa, when Mandela came into power in 1994, many were afraid of letting their old white ways go; when he no longer was our president then many people were scared that they could not live with the next man in power because they were not sure of what changes would be made. Now that he has died we are all sad and inspired to live a life that honors what he stood for. With change comes challenges to learn from our past and to take into the future what we feel are successes.

Over time I plan to examine the different changes I have been faced with during my life. Each post will cover one of the topics that explore the many aspects of my life. The material will thus mainly be autobiographical but with the aim to reflecting on what I have gone through and learnt and to applying it to others. Maybe you are dealing with change in your life and struggling to adapt to, letting go and taking on new ways. It is my hope that what I share will inspire you to face your life with boldness and courage.

Some of the issues that I will post about will be:
·         Losing a father at six years old;
·         adapting to not having a father;
·         facing unwanted men;
·         working through androgyny to adolescence;
·         emerging from adolescence to adulthood;
·         adjusting to marriage;
·         pregnancy;
·         the first few months of motherhood;
·         meeting your baby’s personality;
·         self-esteem under fire;  
·         the challenge of raising teenagers;
·         challenging the boredom in marriage;
·         learning to live effectively with anxiety
·         coping with cancer;
·         finding my passion;
·         learning to love
·         …..

That’s all for now,
A warm smile,