The force of resilience amidst the eye of the storm. How do you continue a journey when your life is turned upside down by a sudden illness?
The illness, in the form of a “stroke”, hit unexpectedly and felt as if it had arrived with the sole intention to rob you of your life…but by the grace of God, along with the devastation, the realization that you were given a second chance. Do you take it, or do you decide that all is over for you as you know life to be?
The realization comes in waves of various emotions, from fear to flight, while everything you know that is familiar to you becomes strange and unexplainable. The next step is the enormous challenge to achieve basic movement, speech, coordination, etc. The easiest route would be to just accept your situation and try to go with the flow, however, depression sets in first as the feeling of hopelessness envelopes you. Secondly, the fear of the unknown and how to cope emotionally, financially, and physically becomes the second wave, and often acceptance of the situation and the feeling of helplessness will escalate until your mind tells you “That it is what it is, and nothing will change the reality”.
The enormity of that thought within your mind could be debilitating as your mind can kill you long before your body decides to give up. However, that does not need to be the scenario and can have a different outcome.
Now the proof of resilience – Christophorus realized this when he was forced to re-evaluate his life and start a new journey after a stroke that brought his life to a sudden stop. As a Pilot Paraglider, he had no shortage of perseverance or resilience and has always been driven to achieve that which he put his mind to.
The stroke left him semi-paralyzed on his right side which was a terrible blow as he paints with his right hand. Mentally, Christophorus prepared himself with the knowledge that life goes on. His instinct to survive set about a whole new stream of events. Fortunately, Christophorus has a strong support system in the form of his partner Charmaine and many friends. A friend Jacques helped him to adjust the easel so that he can sit in his wheelchair and paint and started a Backabuddy fund for him to assist with the financial challenges.
The challenge to paint with the left hand became a reality. It was quite difficult to paint with his left hand in the beginning, however, it was only for a short while as his determination and drive to achieve propelled him forward and he completed his first painting. His second painting soon followed and was sold as soon as it was completed. The journey of resilience paid off and his love of art was unscathed. Christophorus agreed to tell his story with the hope that it can inspire people to always look at ways and means to adjust and adapt to their circumstances instead of just giving up.
Who is Christophorus?
Christophorus is a well-known artist living on the West Coast of South Africa, who eventually settled in Jacobsbaai when he fell in love with the simplistic lifestyle of the West Coast. From an early age, he had a love for drawing, and this talent was soon discovered by friends and family. He reached many people through his love of portraiture. From his early twenties, he painted mostly in oils and continued to do so for the next 30 years. His early works featured scenes of the bush veld, landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, still life, and portraits.
In 2001 Christo relocated from Roodepoort to the West Coast to become a full-time artist. He opened his art gallery in Langebaan which he then sold to move to St Helena bay a scenic harbour town in the heart of the fishing industry. The daily activities of the fishermen at the harbour made a deep impression on him which one can see in the reflection in his paintings. The small and ever-popular village Paternoster, with its fisherman activities and their traditional way of living, becomes a favourite theme to be expressed in his art.
The name Christophorus, today is synonymous with scenes from the West Coast and is very popular with visitors and art-loving tourists. Along with his art, he is a talented musician and a keen sportsman who loves to paraglide. With his determination, it could be no surprise that he attempts to enjoy the sport again. His friends urge him along while also telling him to remember to take it one step at a time.
In 2008 Christophorus changed his art medium to acrylic paint and has used this medium ever since. The vibrancy of the colours suited the artist’s unique style and brought the subjects to life.
The bright and happy colours in his paintings reflect his passion for the West Coast lifestyle in a unique and very appreciative manner that has now become recognizable internationally. His murals are to be seen in St Helena, Jacobsbaai, and Paternoster where he also has an Art Gallery in the Art Shed.
Over the past 41 years, he has sold numerous paintings and was a select member of the West Rand art society in Johannesburg while in residence there. Later, he also served on the West Coast art Guild as chairperson.