The Karkloof Farmers Market has been trading at the old timber mill just outside Howick for a number of years now, and has become a weekly social occasion for many of the people of Howick and indeed of Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding Midlands community. It's open every Saturday morning and has all sorts of wonderful stalls like a coffee counter, a breakfast bar, an extensive and very interesting book stall and a huge variety of homemade bread, rolls, cakes and muffins to choose from, as well as preserves, fresh fruit and vegetables, and lots more besides. There's a huge open playground for the toddlers with a jungle gym and swings, as well as outdoor and indoor seating for the not-so-spry or energetic.
The market is held in one of the main sheds, spilling out into open spaces in almost all directions, and the conversations make up a constant drone of voices. Mark Schanou the fiddler is a regular busker,
and the external stalls include an indigenous plant nursery and sales of compost and bark chips.
The market is run by Andrea Gibson and her friend Kim, who both constantly look for ways of improving the market and of offering variety. Christmas and Easter, specially, get the treatment with evening markets and Carol concerts, and every now and then a theme is introduced for a month. These activities are widely advertised in local press and by posters, and have proved to be very popular. The market is situated next door to several large retirement villages, and many of the residents are regular customers.
Trestle tables are provided for the comfort of those concentrating on breakfast while the next generation scampers about unleashed.
For some while now Fran Simmons and I have wanted to visit the Market to photograph the proceedings for local interest, and Andrea and Kim had agreed, but being the energetic photogrpahers that we are, we didn't get that far. Out of the blue a few weeks ago Andrea emailed us to say that they'd like us to be part of their Art Month, displaying our work at the Market. Fran and I spoke about it and resolved to establish a permanent gallery there, and put forward the idea to Andrea and Kim. The building to be used was an old timber drying kiln that had a real atmosphere about it.
The building was being used as storage by a local building contractor, and had also served the Market at times as a rugby-watching venue to entice rugby enthusiasts to the market in spite of the Sharks or Boks being in action in Australasia. The seating had been hay-bales, and everything was liberally coated with dust. It was love at first sight. Just perfect. We struck a deal with our new landladies, and things began to happen.
We had no shortage of exhibitors, and were delighted to include Anita Baert (wildlife photos,) Denise Beuke (wildlife artist,) Peter Wickham (Pro photographer) and Simon Joubert (macro photography) as permanent company. This left us with wall space to invite a visiting artist or photographer on a rotating basis.
And so it began.
We were on a tight schedule, and called in all sorts of favours and helpers. The kiln was cleared, the walls were brushed down and sealed, a lighting system was designed and installed, the doors were painted and and the approach to the doors was paved. It took about two weeks to finish with .............
after a great deal of ............
as well as .......
before we could .........
The last job was done by Matthew and Mark ...........
and their cheerful but strict supervisors.
And so to the hanging of the artwork in preparation for the opening Saturday. We all arrived during the Friday afternoon, and busied ourselves with the final job. The hanging system was in place, ladders were carted around and gradually the building began to look like a gallery. Simon's lovely wife Tracey arrived with a hot stew, there was a supply of Old Brown Sherry with coffee to follow, and day became night as we worked.
Satisfied that we'd finished, we locked up and went home to reflect on our achievement. First light on Saturday morning was greeted by a ready-to-roll kiln.
and we were set.
Andrea and Kim very kindly helped us celebrate with some early-morning bubbly and orange juice ........
From left, Anita, Denise, Simon, Kim, Andrea, Fran and yours truly, with Troy getting in on the scene. Sadly Peter wasn't able to be there early, but joined us later on. The Howick cold was forgotten for the moment.
So we waited for the crowds to roll in. More of that later along with Elise Leibnitz's lovely shots of aspects of the building during preparation. Have you ever seen such a satisfied bunch in your life?