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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dorelle - South of the Equator

Victoria Falls
This week's post is something very different to my usual offerings but I feel it qualifies as these images are a vivid childhood memory.  They are taken from place-mats that were originally in my grandmother's home.  Each is clearly signed with the name Dorelle, but I know nothing about the artist.  As a child I was fascinated by these paintings that appeared more like French fashion plates than images of Africa.  I loved the texture and colours of the material - the flowing liquid quality of the women's silk dresses.
As these place mats are still in use in my own home today I wanted to scan them while they are in reasonably good condition.  They are printed on metal (tin?) over a cork base.  In time they are becoming scratched and discoloured.  There are 2 of each picture (12 place settings and 4 for serving dishes) and I have tried to choose the best example from each pair.
Port Elizabeth
 As I've worked in the IT industry now for almost 25 years I sometimes forget that I started out as an historian.  I can boast an Honour's degree in History which I taught in a girl's high school for 4 years before embarking on a completely new career.  I still have an instinctive impulse to collect, preserve and protect.  Part of the reason I started this blog was to record and safeguard images that I have cherished since childhood.  It offers a means of ensuring they survive as well as providing an opportunity to share them with anyone else who may also enjoy looking at them. 

Cape Town

Cape Town 



As these place mats originally came from my grandmother's home I wanted to include a picture of her as part of this post.  At the moment all my all old photographs are packed away in storage so as an alternative I'm including a drawing I made many years ago from an old photograph of my grandmother as a child. I think she was born in 1909 and was about 6 years old when the original photograph was taken.

Constance Marion Cole


Tomorrow's Treasures

Recently I went to see the new Matisse exhibition at the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle.  It is more of a museum than a library and is a fascinating place to visit.  I go there quite often during lunch time, especially if the weather is dull.  I always pop into the little shop and have a soft spot for these pop-up greeting cards.  Usually I buy them to give away but this time I bought one for myself!

There is a tab that allows the central ballerina to twirl from left to right that is really cute. Different messages can be inserted underneath one of the roses and the attention to detail is lovely.  The prima-ballerina also has a delicate piece of tulle on her skirt and 'gems' around her waist and in her hair.  I think this is something worth saving and it is a wonderful example of what can be created from the classically simple medium of paper and card.


Kylie said...

Hi Sharon
those placemats are beautiful...the dresses on those glamorous 50's women and the way the artist has captured their attitude...lovely Even the little girl in her 50's much detail. My cup of tea to a T! Thanks for sharing them, and thanks for following my blog because now I've found yours which I know I'm going to love. I'd better stop now, catch you later x

Mariana Haasbroek said...

Hi! I am so glad that I found this page on the internet! Just today I saw 2 works of Dorelle at an exhibition, but no-one could give me any info on the artist. They are all still searching. Seeing the signature, I am convinced that it is ithe same artist. If anyone could help us get more information, I shall surely appreciate it. Thank you for sharing these marvellous pieces of joy! Riana

Sharon's Sunlit Memories said...

Hi Mariana - I'm hoping you will come back this way as I have no means of contacting you anywhere else. I'd love to find out more about the exhibition you mentioned and the Dorelle paintings included there. You can email me at or leave another comment. I also searched online but could find nothing about Dorelle anywhere - Sharon

DeadSpiderEye said...

You captured something in grandmother's eyes, they're really intense. Your talents as a portraitist completely outstrip my efforts. You're right about the depiction of fabrics on the place mats, the artist seems to have captured them the feel of the fabric with ease.

marie bredenkamp said...

Sharon: I was referred by a friend with whom I was in conversation about DORELLE'S paintings - I have the exact same set of place mats and actually knew Dorry and her husband Laury when I was a student in Cape Town in 1963 - and got the mats as a wedding present in 1965.

Charmian said...

Hi there! Dorelle was my father's cousin, and lived with her husband, Laurie, in Auburn Road, Kenilworth, Cape. Her real name was Dorrie Humphris. She did a great deal of work for the Cape Argus both as an artist and a cartoonist. My son owns a Dorelle sketch of the great men of the day queueing before a camera: Roosevelt, Churchill, Smuts, Halifax, Bailey and others, all headed by a bizarrely pompous Mussolini. My brother and I have some of her paintings - mine are a striking Arab head and an evocative black mother and child. Philip Le Feuvre


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