Of real & inked lions

So here’s a story… inspired by a recent lion encounter in Kgalagadi and the way its image mirrors an exquisite ink drawing I purchased on an interesting coffee stop not so long ago.

There’s a really cool artisan coffee shop sitting slap-bang on the thundering-truck-ridden N2, at Riversdale in the Western Cape (what?! In this sleepy country dorpie?!). Yes, really. It serves a mean Flat White (Origin coffee beans), an addictive grilled bacon, avo and sweet chilli mayo sandwich (add to that: peppadew, cream cheese, spring onion) piled up on rye … or ciabatta or wholewheat … And you get stopped in your tracks by the wicked display of chocolate brownies and muffins and carrot cake.

It’s called … wait for it … Ikigai. Say what? Japan has come to Riversdale. First it was the Danish concept of hygge — creating a warm, fuzzy cosiness. Now it’s the Japanese concept of: Your reason for being, or that which makes your life worthwhile.

ikigai 1 aThere it is, my male lion, sandwiched between a rhino and an impala ram

ikigai 2 a

Ikigai the coffee shop also sells a curated selection of décor items, and an artwork range of the most finely drawn, painstakingly detailed, wild animal faces. Stand up close and there’s a maze of geometric lines, dots, and chevrons combining to make up each illustration. The time and patience that must go into each individual artwork leaves me breathless. Every time we stopped by Ikigai, I stood transfixed in front of the head of a male lion. Its mane was an assemblage of exquistely patterned feathers. And I simply can’t resist feathers.

On about the fifth visit I said: What the Hell. I parted with my credit card.

IMG_5227 a‘Scuse the reflections from the glass. But how are them feathers?
Check out the artist’s signature, then read on…

kgalagadi 2 aI’m the King of the Jungle and I know it … rrraaao      [Photo by Hirsh]

The serendipity of it all?

I discover the artist, Benn Lombard, lives in our hometown, Knysna, along the Garden Route!! A little more research reveals Benn has a past tense in animal husbandry (that explains the wildlife heads), a present tense in weight lifting (owns a “functional fitness centre”, Enhanced — cross lifting, anyone?). And then there’s his creative, artistic alter ego (Benn Designs).

Now how’s that for a story?