When I met Lyndi Sales for the first time, I was immediately smitten. She’s charming and bright, heartwarming but strong. And her work is absolutely fascinating. I would immediately buy every single piece if I could! Lyndi grew up in Johannesburg, moved to Capetown when she was 18 and started dating David, her future husband in her 20s. Already during her Arts-Studies, she was sure: “I want to be an artist. I want to make a living out of this!” And out of all the art students, she was one of the few who really made it. When her art was finally successful, she decided she was ready for another big step in her life: having kids. Raphael and Sebastian are six and four years old today, two absolutely handsome boys, growing up in a funky and beautiful home in Capetown. Here, Lindy tells us what it’s like to raise kids in Capetown, how she juggles life and family and how her private life inspires her work.
Lyndi, can you tell us quickly who you are and what you do?
I am Lyndi Sales. I’m an artist and a mother of two. I make artworks that vary in terms of medium. Also, I like to work with multiple units that involve either cutting, weaving, and recently stitching. I was born in Johannesburg, and already as a child, I was always making and crafting things and knew that I loved all things creative. So one can say, I always wanted to be an artist. My husband David and I have been married for 12 years now, quite a while!
How old are your boys? And how have the first years been, when they both were tiny?
Sebastian is four, and Raphael is six. The first years have been intense. And very busy. But I always managed to get work done. My art practice has become a lot more structured since they’ve been born. Before, I could work when I was in the flow. If I wanted to work at night, I could. Now I work a 9-5 schedule in the studio, and the rest of the time I’m with them.
Still, I can say, my life is pretty busy having a full-time career and small kids. There is not much time for myself!
Did you start working again right after giving birth?
Yes, pretty much. I actually started working immediately after they were born. It was at about eight weeks after my first and probably two weeks after the second birth. I did have a full-time nanny, if necessary, which is a natural and common thing here in South Africa. I would then also express my milk.
There was so much to do, and also there was the fear of losing track, so I couldn’t really take a break.
Thank God, both my boys were excellent sleepers. I’m a big advocate of Gina Ford and read her book twice before my first was born. I knew that I would need to work, as so many great opportunities were coming my way – such as my participation in the Venice Biennale just after Raphael was born. So I needed to ensure that I had them on a routine that wasn’t going to have me up all night. With both babies, it worked very well.
Two boys – did you always see yourself as being a „boys mom“?
Not really I was convinced I would have a boy and a girl. So when Raphael was born, I was expecting to have a boy first. Then when Basti arrived, I was a little thrown as I was expecting a girl. I’ve had to adjust to the fact that there will be no little pink dresses and Barbie dolls, haha! But I love my boys so much, I like being a boys mom now, and now I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
How would you describe the two of them?
Raphael has a very enquiring mind and is constantly asking questions. He is very observant and quite analytical. Sebastian seems to be the more creative spirit. He has a sense of humor and has the most infectious giggle.
Did you wait to have kids, until you were settled as an artist?
Yes, we started having kids quite late. I was 37 when I had Raph and 39 when I had Basti. My career was important to me, and I wanted to establish it before I had kids. Needless to say, more opportunities started to flow in after I had kids when I thought they would slow down.
What’s the art scene like in Cape Town – and in South Africa?
It’s alive and very vibrant. I don’t always get out to as many openings as I used to before I had kids. Nowadays, I tend to miss them and take the kids to the shows on weekends when the shows are a little quieter. But still, I can say: there’s a lot going on!
Is your work inspired by your family life?
Yes, my work is always inspired by my personal experience. And of course, the family is an integral part. My work is also inspired by the existential questions which I guess are lived out through family experiences. Like birth and death which incite all those questions on who we are where we come from and what happens to us when we die. My father passed away in a plane crash, it took me a while to work myself through this experience, which resulted in a huge body of work that I created. And then with the birth of my children, many of the symbolic forms that I use continue to take form in my work. Such as the Vesica Piscis which is representative of the ovum splitting.
How do you manage to get work done, how are you organized?
I guess I am good at getting things done. I can procrastinate if I have lots of time, but I am quite diligent and generally very inspired to “make”. So getting to the studio and starting to work is not a hard task for me. I’m not sure I have tips though. I’m just inspired by so many things. If I had more time I would read more; I find reading inspires my work a lot. I read books about science, spirituality, the universe, the metaphysical etc…. Inspiration gets me busy, and it’s like I have to have time to myself. Podcasts are a good alternative when you have your hands full!
What’s a typical day for your family?
We wake up at 6:30 am. Get the kids fed, dressed and to school. On a good day, I’ll get to the studio at 8. Otherwise, I get there at 9. I do admin first, emails and stuff. My assistant works from 9-4, so I usually have to set her up with her tasks for the day. After all the admin is done, I will start working on a project. I often have about three projects on the go at any one given time. I work on commissions, and there is always an exhibition on the horizon. So I could be researching for that, experimenting with a new medium. Somedays I collect my oldest from school and take him home at 1 pm. But then I’m straight back to the studio until 4:30. Then home and supper with the boys. Play, bath, reading a story and bed. That takes me to around 8 pm. After that, my husband and I have time to relax, read or watch something.
What would you say: what’s it like for a kid to grow up in South Africa these days?
Well, I can only comment from a privileged vantage point. My kids live in a neighborhood where there are a lot of small children. There are opportunities for playdates all around the hood. The kids generally go to similar nursery schools, and so they all know each other. We also have beautiful beaches, the majestic mountain and we often get away on weekends. My kids have a privileged lifestyle, and although one has to be aware of the criminal element, I don’t think there is a better place to live.
And how has it been for you, what about your childhood?
I grew up in Johannesburg and remember things to be pretty idyllic, we used to live across the road from a river and would play there and ride our bike around the neighborhoods. Things were safer back then to let your kids ride around the neighborhoods unsupervised. It was dreamy!
I like the eclectic style of your home, where do you get your furniture?
My husband and I have been creating home since we met 19 years ago. It’s a good thing; we have similar taste. In the old days, before we had kids we had more disposable income to shop.Now I do browse Pinterest, and I email my husband images of things I like. We shop at Vamp in Woodstock, Space for life in Observatory, and also Gumtree is good, too. We have lived in three houses in the past 19 years: we started out in a small house in Observatory then moved to a small house in Rosebank and are now in the home we live in. We have been here for five years, it’s still a work in progress, but I love this house. Also, love we have renovated and have renovated all our homes to suit our style and needs.
When do you have time for yourself?
The time for myself is really the time I spend in the studio. But recently I have started the gym, and so this is time for myself, too.
What is the most annoying part of motherhood?
I guess not having the freedom you had before. The free spirit I had that would allow us to spontaneously go on a road trip or me to go abroad for an exhibition. Nowadays I have to consider school, fetching and carrying, etc.
And what’s the best part?
Having these two little magic beings in my life. I can’t imagine life without them. They can be testing, but ultimately they are expressions of love. They teach us about ourselves, and they help us express unconditionally.
Thank you, Lyndi!
Lyndi Sales with Raphael (6), and Sebastian (4), Capetown, March 2017
Pictures: Lina Grün
Interview: Isabel Robles Salgado
More from Lyndi? Here and here!