When I was presented with an unexpected trip to the Eastern Cape to ‘rest,’ I envisaged chilling out at the Wild Coast; sleeping, reading and writing time. but the universe had plans for me to meet avid greenies, living close to the earth in self-made organic homes with creative hands and hearts of gold.
The moment the big bird touched down at East London airport the pace of the place wafted up to meet me like an old friend. A respite from the rush-rush of the newspaper business. It was time to drop my tog bag of trip expectations and simply surrender to one synchronicity after the other.
First stop was George Kockott’s home at Driftwood Studios in the beach forest in Rainbow Valley. Remember the curved chair featured in our first edition? George is the sculptor who crafts works of art from locally gathered, natural and recycled materials.
A pile of driftwood conjures future works to arise from this wood-man, who has 35 years as a cabinet maker, furniture designer/maker and ship builder. His curvaceous home reminds me of a ship. This airy dwelling with long wooden logs and glass panels rises from the forest like an eagle about to take off.
In taking the forest, rocks, earth inside, home and environment become inseparable bed fellows. We experienced some of his creations in the permanent sculpture trail in the forest at Tea in the Trees near Chintsa Bay.
His work represents an intimate dance of nature and art – a literal merging of man and nature, hinting perhaps at our only possible future on this planet. I found them inspiring and reassuring of my own path.
Trees support the roof
Our journey into natural home-building had commenced. Kate and Simon Bosazza from the Panorama Tree Nursery kindly ‘offered their ‘granny’s cottage,’ where we could sleep in Eden’s lap. Their own home – also self-built – was another beautiful house creature. Picture a thatched roof held up by trees right in the middle of the house, a twirling staircase of organic bits of wood supported by hand turned metal curls with built-in candle holders and other creatures.
The rondawel has curved windows and colour spashes merging with the deeply organic feel of the care with which this natural home was simply received into this world. Walls made of the environment – rocks with glass bottles built in to provide blue light. Mosaics around domed doors. Lampshades handcrafted flower-shaped copperwork. Once again nature is brought inside, honouring that which gives us life. These natural homes nurtured me.
Then on to Khula Dhamma, the eco community, where every home is owner-built. All these aesthetic and spiritual creatures left me breathless. The sense of the sacred is palpable in homes built with nil footprint – no cement, only materials from the surrounding area. Grass is simply picked from the bush to thatch the roof. Wood, stone and mud is all you need for walls. Their beauty surpasses anything I’ve seen in affluent areas. See Estelle’s story on this page.
I am in awe as I realise the practical applicability of our ideals. This is no mere pipe dream. As we set our intentions to live more simply, in line with what honours the earth and all her creatures, so the answers arrive in the form of commitment, creativity and beauty. And a surrender to serenity; is this not what we’re all searching for? I left grateful for the assurance that earthy, environmental living is not only possible, but desirable. Now to make this happen for more of us.
By Elma Pollard