Sculptor offers his expertise

Louise Liebenberg REKNOWNED Nieu Bethesda sculptor Frans Boekkooi is sharing his talents to the public by offering a series of intensive sculpture workshops at his studio in the picturesque Karoo village. "I have had many inquiries over the years from people wanting to explore the world of sculpture," says Boekkooi, who is originallyfrom Port Elizabeth, where he studied art at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). "Then, last year, I had an apprentice working with me for two months. I enjoyed the experience and seeing her enthusiasm and progress led to the decision to offer courses." Each course will run for three weeks and cover the entire sculpting process, from an introduction to the art form to sculpting in wax, mould-making, casting, and then grinding, sealing and staining the finished piece. Beginners are welcome and after the course Boekkooi will be available for follow-up, one-to-one sessions by arrangement. "Only two people attend the courses at a time, which is important to me as there is more personal interaction," said Boekkooi, who is sought after for commissions and whose work is included in several collections overseas and in South Africa. He is also overseeing the restoration and maintenance of Nieu Bethesda's famous Owl House. Boekkooi and his wife, Heidi, bought the old blacksmith's house in the village eight years ago. They have lived there for nearly six years, with children Leighton, 17, Nina, 11, and Walter, 10, at boarding school in nearby Graaff-Reinet. The house dates to 1875 and Boekkooi works from the original blacksmith's workshop which, he says, has a "tremendous atmosphere". The ever-changing Karoo landscape offers added inspiration, says Heidi, who runs a small gallery and gift shop, but spends much of her time on a children's community crafts project. The village, an oasis in the arid Karoo, is home to a growing number of artists, crafters and other "creatives" seeking a more inspiring, often simpler, way of life. Course dates are February 10 to 28; May 5 to 24; June 30 to July 19; and October 20 to November 8. Materials, a sculptors' kit, self-catering accommodation and teas are included. For more information call 082-865-2699 or e-mail: