I was lucky enough to meet Ethel at the Stellenbosch wine festival and before I actually spoke to her I spent quite some time watching and looking.
She was busy clearing tables and wine bottles ready for the next batch of slightly tiddly tourists pushing their way through... all of them expecting a clean table and space to sit, none of them actually seeing Ethel. She was invisible.
But to me all I saw was this beautiful gracious woman. She never lifted her eyes once and went about her work expecting nothing.
When I approached her and asked to take her picture and explained a bit about my journey her face lit up and she smiled... and I saw the true Ethel, the beauty and colour in her face took my breath away as she explained a little about her life.
She is age 39 and has two children. They are from the Xhosa tribe and live in the very poor Woodstock area of Capetown. A lot of her people have moved from the Eastern Cape... job opportunities are very poor there and hopefully life is a little easier in Capetown.
When I painted Ethel I felt I had to show that she is two people... one has an open beauty that shines through... vitality and emotion in her eyes.
The other Ethel hides behind a veil. An invisible person once more.
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