Try everything … then try something else!


“When I start out, I sense the excitement of not knowing what it will look like at the end.”

When Joan Randall starts work on one of her many and diverse pieces of art, she has no idea what the final product will look like.  She does not follow a pattern but gives expression to her own creativity … and waits to see what the outcome will be.  Not unlike life, she says – take a chance to step out of the boundaries, to try something new and … hold your breath while you await the result!

Courage to start

While Joan had always knitted, she was unprepared when a friend challenged her to take on embroidery.  In response to Joan’s reluctance, IMG_6721her friend said the magic words:  “Just try.” Realising there was nothing stopping her from relinquishing the new hobby should she not enjoy it, Joan decided to attend a class … and she was hooked!

“I follow the free embroidery style, which allows you to follow your own creative instinct rather than following a IMG_6716pattern,” says Joan.  This freedom has enabled Joan to expand her creative expression to other forms of art – she does tapestry, pottery, decoupage, painting, sketching, pewter work and copper work.

“I was a manager at a clothing boutique for fifteen years so I think that’s where my love of colour and design grew.  But, of course, you have a family to raise and there is little time to cultivate your own creative talents.  Retirement has offered me this, and I am loving it – it is one of the best times of my life!  I get to be the real me.”

Every one unique

This craft has taught Joan to look at the uniqueness of every creature that she recreates through her threads or paintbrush or clay.  “Did you know that every zebra stripe matches? I now look at creatures differently and have acquired an appreciation for their uniqueness,” says Joan.  “My art has opened my eyes to how marvellous the creation is.  So, when I look for a picture to copy, I look for one that has sufficient detail, where there is blending of colours.”

This appreciation for uniqueness has extended to “Joan’s Breathing Room”.  Sounds intriguing, you say?  It is.  Following a message at her church, Joan was prompted to create a Breathing Room.  Here, Joan welcomes any woman seeking to spend a few hours in quiet creativity … or just enjoying a cup of tea and time away from the pressures of every day. Like her embroidery, this is a space to be free of expectations, disappointments and tomorrow’s worries.  “I have seen such a change in a particularly troubled woman who drops in regularly.  Over the past year has come healing, a serenity and acceptance that has helped her manage her condition more positively,” adds Joan.


You never know

“Have a go at everything,” urges Joan.  “Don’t look at something and think you can’t do it.  Start … enjoy the journey.  If you don’t love it, try something else!  You never know what you will love until you try it … and you can never know the impact it will have on your life.”

“Life is so short – one minute I was on the boat from England and the next, here I have been in South Africa for so many years.  I set sail in 1967 and arrived in the new year of 1968.  I started working as a young woman, and now I am retired. Where did all the years go?”

Joan has stalled time by capturing significant memories in her art.  From her view from the ship as it was coming close to land, that now familiar flat-topped mountain has been immortalised in this pottery artwork.

IMG_6714 (2)

Joan commemorated her family’s visit to Riverside Farm in this embroidery featuring her children’s names.  And for husband, Nigel’s retirement?  A leopard pencil holder!


“I want to look back on my life and say, ‘I tried things’”, says Joan. “You pass on your experience inside you to someone else.”

Joan encourages everyone not to fear that moment of mystery before you try something new.  After all, the outcome is up to you – choose your materials, work your craft and create magic!


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