This autobiographic photograph was taken with the help of the my daughter, Karen, who is a qualified graphic designer. The use of dark, understated, chiaroscuro light is an endeavour to dwell on elusively emerging memories.
I enjoy creating wooden sculptures and wooden objects. I learnt woodworking from my father, Marthinus (Martiens) Boshoff (1923-1985), a qualified carpenter. My indebtedness to my father is recognised in my father’s old carpenter’s workbench and various woodworking tools like saws, a spirit level, calipers, pencil, bellows and planer.
My grandfather, Willem Hendrik Boshoff (1880-1928) was a prisoner of war in the Anglo Boer War of 1898-1902. He was kept in Bellary, a large prisoner of war camp in south-central India, where he made the walking stick lying on some of the my old scrap-books in the top right hand section of the photograph. This finely crafted walking stick motivated my father to begin a career in carpentry.
I’ve had a life-long interest in writing and language. I have written dictionaries since 1977. An old, red dictionary (Soule, Richard A dictionary of English synonyms and synonymous expressions. London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1938) from my collection of more than 200 dictionaries can be seen to the left, in the foreground of the image.
My production of graphic art images is represented by the small metal inkpot with detachable top, used in the process of printmaking, in this photograph placed just above the red dictionary.
I also use plants and botany in much of my work and in the centre of the photograph is a bundle of roots from the Canary palm (Phoenix canariensis), contorted into a circular wreath by being grown in a pot that was too small for it.
The photograph was taken in the home I have been living in for more than thirty years. In the background is a set of doors I salvaged along with many other wooden fittings from the old demolished Doornfontein suburb in Johannesburg. Thick layers of paint were sanded from the wooden items and then treated with a special sealer. The very bottom layers of dry paint, then more than a hundred years old, were lead-based and unfortunately I did not wear a proper mask when sanding them down. The result was that I contracted a bad spell of lead poisoning and had to undergo various treatments. The residue of lead has been removed, but I still suffer from a painful neuropathic condition in my legs and feet.