Sharmaine Thérèsa Pretorius, a South African artist and health and safety advisor, who has been living at Birkat al Mouz, near the foot of Jebel Akhdar amongst lovely people she considers ‘family’ for the past 10 years, also considers Oman as her home and creative space. For Sharmaine, who suffers from a rare autoimmune illness called Sjogren’s Syndrome, following the lockdown precautions was crucial. However, she kept in touch with her own family members spread across five countries and also participated in the Paralym Art World Cup 2020 in Japan, as the only entrant from Oman. Here’s how she sums up her lockdown time:
In Oman, there was enough time to research and follow developments regarding medications, symptoms and possible solutions elsewhere. Dr Maria Elizabeth Bezuidenhoudt, who is a medical doctor as well as an opera singer, double digiting prodigy from South Africa, kept me updated as well, and I shared everything with the Ministry of Health in Oman, as well, which does an excellent job. Already battling Sjögren’s Syndrome – an auto immune illness, I adhered closely to social distancing physically, but made an effort to bridge the gap by engaging more and sharing parts of my research online, on my Instagram feed: @sharm.t.p. I was greatly assisted with the importing of special medication from England during the lockdown.
My husband Willem started tutoring online on behalf of the University of Nizwa. Most of my own work takes place in cyberspace, that refers to health and safety research, besides being an artist. It is wonderful to have him at home. I even got pranked a couple of times, by him, amongst other things pretending to speak to my friends on social media, using an a/c remote disguised as my phone. I spent a lot of time counseling online and connecting with friends and family worldwide. I launched a pilot programme helping to coach young people, who cannot afford formal schooling in Africa but can access the internet, as part of my commitment to the Yali Network.
I also entered the Paralym Art World Cup 2020 in Japan, as the only entrant from Oman. Public voting is still open, if anyone wishes to vote they can register and find my art at the link below. The magazine Beyond Words, and The Hole In The Head Review magazines, published some of the work of my Enclosure Fathom- Part 2 series and Salann magazine will publish some of my Chladni musical digital drawings soon. This time brought a much closer relationship with artists and art collectors in different countries, who express their experiences through art dialogues fascinating in itself. Due to travel restrictions, I also navigated renovations to our house overseas from here, and in the process, really get to appreciate the generosity of heart still to be found in people. I also started learning Chinese, so as to understand my grandchildren better.
When you know you may not see someone again or it is possible to fall ill suddenly and unexpectedly, it changes interpersonal dialogues completely. You will most certainly have a different conversation with the knowledge of the possibility of not seeing someone ever again. This situation forces everyone to take a closer look at their own inner dialogue as well. The knowledge that every and any step you take influences and has possible consequences for everyone around you creates psychological and spiritual changes and more personal responsibility.
Forgiveness, how we spend our time and with what and whom, are my top priorities at the moment. We all need to reframe our lives or have it possibly reframed for us forcibly. Everyone is tasked with taking care and compiling an inventory of their physical, psychological and spiritual supply chain. Living with precision is totally reachable and only possible with casting out fear, but being vigilant, caring, and loving. Of all things, love remains the strongest force. Friends, family and faith versus fame, fortune and fans is the winning solution.