The title, Civilising Grass - The Art of the Lawn on the South African Highveld, intrigued and immediately raised questions. What is the difference between grass, veld and lawn? Why is there an art in its cultivation? What does a lawn mean? Why do some people spend precious leisure time mowing a lawn? Why do lawns matter and what do they represent? If you read this book you will find some of the answers. This is certainly a book to set you thinking. We all benefit from the author’s scholarship (the bibliography is vast).
‘Then and Now’ books of photographs are becoming popular. I recently reviewed Vincent Van Graan’s Cape Town: Then and Now (click here to view). There is an appeal in matching old photographs that open a window on the past and then to return to the exact same spot to see the same place as it is today. What has changed and what has remained? It is a form of heritage treasure hunting.
I discovered the existence of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum (located in Lwandle, the nearest township to Somerset West and Gordon's Bay) when enjoying a Christmas seaside vacation. Somerset West is worth exploring with many layers of historical experience from the great wine estates of Vergelegen and Lourensford to the remnants of industrial archaeology to be seen at the old Somerset West African Explosives and Chemical Industries estate, from the scenic drive through Gordon's Bay to the unusual workers museum at Lwandle which is the subject of this book.
I first encountered the work of Nic Coetzer when searching for information about the South African presence at the series of Empire exhibitions held in Britain before the Second World War. I was intrigued by his analysis as to why the South African pavilion, for example at the Wembley Empire Exhibition of 1924/25 and again the Glasgow exhibition of 1938 at Bellahouston Park, should have been designed in Cape Dutch architectural style.
Nasir Carrim: Fietas, A social History of Pageview, 1948 - 1988, published by Save Pageview Association, 1990. Softcover, A4 size, 191 pages, illustrated, maps. This book in its day was an item of campaign literature to Save Pageview from demolition and the ravages of apartheid social engineering. It was a sad and disgraceful story and the people of Pageview fought valiantly for their rights of ownership and a city presence for the Indian Community. Who wanted to move or be moved to Lenasia?