The awesome thing about sending you an email each month is that I have to delve beyond the superficial when conducting interviews for the feature article. Last month I interviewed John Gibb, co-founder of SuJon. Before Christmas it was Norma Francis. This month I got to know our newest artisan.
Tania Spitzmesser was born and raised in South Africa. Her Afrikaans father worked, and still works, throughout Africa designing water schemes. Her English-speaking mother owned two hairdressing salons, but when Tania was born, in the late 1960s, became a stay-at-home mum. As a child, Tania’s only awareness of non-whites, was that they lived somewhere else.
Tania is a hybrid, but her father sought to give her Afrikaans foundations. She was raised as a Dutch Reformist, an uncompromising belief system rooted in the old testament and brought to Africa by Dutch settlers in the 1500s. But Tania’s defiance and questioning mind conspired against her father’s designs.
Lithe and musical, at the age of fourteen Tania had organised things so that she would be sent to a school in Johannesburg that specialised in dance. The end of apartheid was still unthinkable when in her late teens she enrolled at the University of Cape Town. To support her studies, rather than working in a white business, she went teaching in the townships. That part of her life is best summed up the African name she was given; ‘Loli Tandu’, or ‘Dearly Beloved’.
After three years of studying dance, she set off for Europe, and met her first husband, a journalist for Reuters News Agency. He was based in Amsterdam, but for his work, he and Tania were constantly moving throughout Europe, then to New Zealand in 1997, to California in 2000 and then back to New Zealand in 2003. They had shifted twenty times in eighteen years. Their marriage became irrelevant, and after five years in Wellington, they separated.
Tania was focused on a career as a Pilates teacher, and traveled to New York three times to further her expertise. She wanted neither family or a relationship, but was swept off her feet by a man at Latin dancing. They married, had a child, lived a few years longer in Wellington, and then shifted to Dunedin while Tania completed a post graduate certificate in public health.
Early in 2018 Tania, her new husband, and son shifted to Richmond. Her business is called Hearts and Bones Pilates and can be found at www.heartsandbones.co.nz . Her husband, Frank, is a handyman and has found plenty of demand for his skills in Tasman and Nelson.
Soon after arrival in Richmond, Tania called at Eyebright for some help with felting, a new interest of hers. Since then, she has been making exquisite felt flowers, and Therese, our shop manager, suggested she might like to start selling her work through us.
They are ideal for pinning shawls for the cool days that lie ahead, also for decorating bags and hats. Check them out. With pride of place at the front counter, they enhance our already strong showing of unique work by Nelson artisans.