Old sawmill, Stellenbosch

Strijdom discovered a derelict sawmill on the outskirts of town. This vast sprawling complex of diverse old industrial buildings spread over the grounds was once a hive of woodworking activity. (Indeed, I have vivid memories of the smell of freshly sawed wood emanating from it when I was living in the area as a student an unsettlingly distant three and a half decades ago.) With an abundance of interesting surfaces, textures, structures, patterns and cavernous spaces it seemed to offer many opportunities – to be seized before its imminent demolition to make way for urban development. Strijdom drew a water circle. We were also excited about the potential of the rough unpainted wall that looked like a Rothko, just more impressive – at over two storeys high and probably more than fifteen meters wide, far larger than the largest canvas the man ever painted. Age and industrial neglect had left it with a beautiful patina, and we tried to do something with it. But the light in the space was insufficient, and with its almost oily residue of old dust water seemed not to take on it.

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