JOHN OLIVIER KLYNSMITH - MY LIFE

 

Families like trees have roots.

Seeds blown by the wind create new trees,

Children like branches spread out and multiply.

Families and trees have similar destinies

 


The roots of my family tree sank deep into the soil in Africa and for four generations Africa was home to us. I grew up with my brothers and sister on the great Maasai Mara of Kenya, living with the remarkable wildness of Africa blown by the icy winds of European winters, my mother was from Italian and French decent and my father from Germanic back ground, but it was here in Africa that  the seeds of my family tree fell. But this was not white mans country and as I became an adult the winds of change began to blow, the land from which our four generations drew life became threatened, dark clouds gathered on our horizons and gradually infiltrated the light until the Africa we had been born to, became hardly recognisable. Africa is like a magnet. When you have been born in Africa you are marked by Africa and wherever you go, you are a displaced person, for you have two identities; you are a white man with a black mans soul. When you meet a kindred spirit you recognise one another, for you have both drunk from the magic chalice whose mysterious alchemy creates a bond that sweeps aside unnecessary prelude.



 

The wildness of Africa with its many contrasts, its landscapes, wild animals and rich thick forests, deserts, cities distilled through the ages, like the strong and refined essence of a continent lives with an earthy vibrancy. Everything you see makes for greatness and freedom and unequalled nobility and you wake up in the morning and think, here I am where I ought to be. No matter the politics like in Zimbabwe and the troubles in Central Africa and other parts of Africa. It makes up the cauldron of Africa from eons of time. Africa always mends it’s rifts in time and continues to have it’s own magic, strong and powerful in it’s own destiny. I feel like a painter in front of an empty canvas and have no idea where to put the first brush stroke. Africa lies around me in all her magnificence and I seem so small and insignificant in my task of capturing her magic on my canvas. People worry where they should go when troubles arrive, or where they should escape to, and I see a lot of futility in people trying to escape to other parts of the world thinking it will be a better life. Don’t they understand that the other parts of the world have their problems too, like the September 11th in America or the Iraq cesspool and the Israeli and Palestinian problems and many others but in  different ways. Yes! Enjoy the essence of destiny in your own land and continue to work at making the chalice of Africa a part of your kindred spirit form and give it your essence, your spirit and your honesty and truth. Venture forth and capture the timeless images of Africa or for that matter, in your country wherever you live in the world and keep it intact. Yes, I live in a country of phenomena and I will always endure the strong beauty and contrasts of Africa.

 


Long contact with Africa has put into perspective the human folly of it’s own evolution, from the Arab occupation and subsequent slave trade in the sixteenth century to the Berlin conference of 1884 that carved up Africa into little segments apportioning it among the foreign invaders. It was this conference which created the colonial frontiers that disregarded existing tribal and racial boundaries and led to the vilest race to plunder humanity and the riches of the earth in the history of European colonisation of Africa, neglecting the human element and environment of the people they colonised. That was the worst of it, this suspicion of their not being human. The man with the inconceivable mystery of the soul, was black not white. He had been maddened, not by contact with wilderness and primitivism, but by the civilisation established by those white pioneers who in their honesty thought they knew better, who now lie in their graves leaving a legacy of confusion to the simple way of life of the human soul that existed here for centuries. This does not only apply to Africa but the world over.

 


I remember as a young child of seven, we lived on the Maasai Mara on the farm. My mother used to put me to sleep around 6:30 in the evening after all the colonial friends became mellow from imbibing their sundowners watching the great red and orange ball of the shimmering sun sink down over the horizon and dust of Africa. I used to wait for at least half an hour and then I’d climb out my window at twilight time, walk the two kilometres down to the valley trying to avoid the foraging warthogs and living creatures in the approaching dusk and visit my wonderful friends the Maasai nomadic warriors. The headman used to call me “Bwana Kidogo”, which means little boss, and took me into their inner circle and we talked for hours, and they taught me all about what life was about in their world and how they perceived the strange habits of the colonialists, who they thought came from another planet and resembled those white slugs that live inside the trunks of trees. The Maasai who are of Nilotic descent still retain the features of their origins. They are a pastoral semi-nomadic people who inhabit the open grasslands and dry forests of the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Primarily a cattle-keeping people, they once lived off the milk, meat and blood of their live stock which kept them tough and lean – the Maasai are renowned for their fearlessness, hunting prowess, and as silent warriors.

 


What I have always remembered from the teachings of the Maasai headman was when he pointed out to me early one morning in a Maasai Manyatta (village) the fever tree, as the sun poured through the branches bathing the sleepy inhabitants going about their morning chores in an iridescence that removed them momentarily from reality. He said and I quote “See that tree, and the many branches with the leaves swaying in the morning breeze, you must grow tall and strong in your mind like the branches, and always keep your mind and thinking open as the leaves of the tree, for when the leaves fall, new ones will take over, so it is with the mind, as the seasons come and go, renew your thoughts to new ideas like the leaves that sprout in the new season, but most of all under the ground, which you do not see are the roots that keep the trees stable for many years. Don’t forget your roots, and where you come from, for that is where your destiny lies and where your stable beliefs are born to endure many generations ahead”. This period was a most profound time for me.

 


I think it was images like this that gave birth to many of my drawings and sketches. I always continue to draw rocks and trees in my artwork, which always seems to bring me closer to mother earth and nature, to regard that life really can be simplified. I think we, as humanity try to complicate our lives without knowing why, I have thought a lot about the standards and concepts of what I should do in my life and what I know of myself and what I’d like to see in others, and those I care for and in fact what humanity should have as their code of ethics to sustain a wonderful environment and relationship in their families and amongst their friends and companions.

 


The principals of my very being are a combination and harmony of the MIND, BODY and SOUL, which in turn relates to my principles of companionship and relationship to friends, clients and loved ones.

 


Respect for the individual.

Respect for their independence.

Respect to a sincere loyalty.



 

In the MIND what we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone, myself included is 100% responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. No person no place and nothing has power over us for we are the only “thinkers” in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds we will find it in our lives  ~ that is why I have cultivated a positive, sure and happy approach to how I conduct my life. Like the leaves of the tree that renews itself every season, I have thrown the “garbage” in my mind and my past life as well as the inhibiting thinking onto the garbage dump, only retaining the wonderful memories and learning from the difficult times and experiences that I went through. The past is the past and the future is something to look forward to with renewed vigour, honesty and truth. When I look into your eyes, it’s only my truth speaking to you in silent words, no hidden agenda and that is what I like, and I approve of and I give it to you, my truth, because I have decided to. It’s as simple as that. It’s honesty to others and myself.



 

The BODY is so, so important because with the mind the body must be completely in tune to be a participant of the mind. That is why I eat the right healthy foods, which I enjoy, drink the right beverages, including wines, because it is good for me, with walking and exercise I tune my body to a supple strength and form, because I feel that it is so important in this day and age of pressures, not only to look good, but also to feel positive and admirable, walking with a spring in my step. It’s also a connection to a positive mind. I do believe that when we try, we can look great and wonderful until the day we die. Every cell in your body responds to every single thought you think, whatever food you eat and every word you speak. I believe we and humanity creates every so called “illness” or “goodness” in our bodies like everything else in life, the body is like a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs I recognise my body as a good friend. Each cell in my body has divine intelligence. I choose to be healthy and free and I know that my body is the temple of my soul.



 

The SOUL ~  the most important and fundamental guidance to our spiritual awareness.  The inner feelings, the emotions, the wonder of the thinking mind.  The inner consciousness  and sub conscious mind. The inner sense and beauty of the soul is the overall strength that embodies the movements of your life. The aura of being there, to sense, to feel that ethereal knowledge of truth and honesty. When I give my emotions or love to someone it comes from within my very soul, it’s there and it’s spiritual. It’s the truth of your inner being so the soul must also be in harmony with the mind and body. I always try to keep all three in harmony and in tune to give me strength of purpose, a positive outlook, and love, allowing the ambitions and creativity in my life to bear fruit and with this I always follow the principals of respect for the individual, respect for their independence and give my loyalty to the individual, to the ones I love and the friends I care for. I have surrounded my life with the idea of wellness and physical and mental balance. I always try to exhibit a sense of calm and serenity and I really enjoy my life to the full, looking for new challenges all the time.



 

I know that all my beliefs I have described in essence stems from the many conversations I have had as a youngster in my relationship with the old world and nobility of the wonderful Maasai. The Maasai and the  Africans of old possess the secrets of joy, it gives them the strength they need to confront the hardships of survival and the humiliations imposed upon them by the colonialists, and I think when one is born in Africa one learns to be a survivor, their influence can only be an advantage to us “white Africans”. In the turmoil and dichotomy of Africa we have become resolute and stronger and in the end we all become better people in an environment of diverse expectations and influences.

 


I have honed my designing and creativity to a point where the creator in me gives form to my truth. I hold truth above all things and against all odds. My vision, my strength, my courage comes from my own spirit. To think, to feel and to create are functions of my ego. (I think the word ego has been misconstrued by many). The men of unborrowed vision went ahead, they fought, they suffered and they paid, but the deciding factor is they won. The creator in me is not selfless, it is the whole secret of my power. It is self – sufficient, self motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a prime mover. I, the creator serve nothing and no one. I live for myself in what I do. I cannot survive except through my mind and my mind is the attribute for me as an individual. In this way I serve others indirectly by giving them of my truth, energy and sincerity. We have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of the possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the dependant who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity, yet we shrug at an act of achievement.



 

Earlier I mentioned that the word ego has been misconstrued, and that we have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil and selflessness, but surely isn’t the creator the egotist in the absolute sense. The egotist in the absolute sense is not the man who stands above the needs of using others in any manner. I do not function through men. I am not concerned with them in any primary matter, not in my aim, not in my motives, not in my thinking, not in my desires and not in my source of energy. I do not exist for any other man and I ask no other man to exist for me. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men. The degree of my independence, initiative and personal love for my work and creativity determines my talent as a worker, artist and designer and my worth as a man.

 


The artist stands above Art and the object because he deals with it in his own manner. The work of the highest originality lies in the ability to develop a familiar idea so fruitfully that it would seem no one else would ever have discovered so much hidden in it. Art is something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos, a stillness, which characterises the eye of the storm – on caresses of attention in the midst of attraction. It is pointless to speed up everything because we can or have to, or because we feel we must. The secret of life is always to look for the tempo guisto, nowhere is this more true than in creative art and music.

 


In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. I as a jeweller, artist, sculptor, poet need clients, but I do not subordinate my work to their wishes. They need me, but they do not order jewellery just to give me a commission. We exchange our work by free mutual consent to the mutual advantage when our personal interests agree and we both desire the exchange. If we do not desire it, we are not forced to deal with each other and that’s the way I like working. A  respect  for  the  individual  desire.



 

As a creator and a jewellery designer I do not recognise anyone’s right to one minute of my creative life if I do not wish it, nor to any part of my energy, nor to any achievement of mine because I see that the world is perishing from an orgy of self sacrificing promoted by the dependant. I recognise no obligations towards men except one TO RESEPCT THEIR FREEDOM AND FOR THEM TO RESPECT MY FREEDOM. To design and create as I wish. I am a man who does not exist for others. I have been given a God given talent and my success can only come from being completely independent and loyal to every creator that ever lived.

I’ve always demanded a certain quality in the people I like. I’ve always recognised it at once and it’s the only quality I respect in man. I choose my friends by that – a self-sufficient ego. If one doesn’t respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others, by this one builds a strong loyalty to a cause. Isn’t this the real essence of the quality of man and woman? It can only make one richer and reap the concept of truth and honesty in our everyday existence.



 

Ever since I could remember, my mother and father had pointed out to me the natural grace and elegance of the Maasai people. Their noble sinewy elongated bodies gave them a natural allure and independence rarely seen in our more inhibited western culture and as I observed them, as a child, walking through the grasslands into the dusty distance of Africa I am thankful that they were involved in my life at an impressionable age, and as I venture forward capturing these timeless images I look forward to my life ahead with great excitement.



 

What I find quite amazing is that the more we learn about our friends and our loved ones, the more we learn about ourselves and even though the friendship and love may cool a little from time to time and we go our separate ways for whatever reason, we have gained in knowledge and we cannot but understand that intriguing puzzlement of the way the mind works. I strongly believe that whatever happens in a friendship or relationship, contacts should never die, for if we allow it to die we loose part of our soul to the universe.



 

I moved to the wonderful city of Cape Town in July of 2002. I had decided to move to Cape Town for two reasons. The one is that I felt I needed new inspiration in my life. To live near the sea, the mountains, the wine lands the light. The wonderful tranquillity of the Cape has given me a new source of energy to create.   I am the type of person who can settle anywhere in the world for creativity is always a part of the inner being, but I love Cape Town in its diversity.  The other reason is a simple one in that I am preparing to expand my business ventures using Cape Town as my base. I will let you know more of that in my Studio newsletters. I have started to plan my future with a more positive frame of mind and some excitement.

 

I wish you a wonderful day and  many  great aspirations for the future.

 

 

Ciao………………………………….John.

 


Tell.0827034343 ~+27(0)214343026 ~ PO Box 927, Sea Point, Cape Town. South Africa 8005Cape Town 8005 ~ Email: johnklynsmith@gmail.com (here)


" Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice,
because the flow that has passed will never pass again"