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Do you follow your head or your heart?

I believe most of us, if we answered this question honestly, follow our heads.  We live in a world that honors the head over the heart…although that is starting to change.  In recent times, we are waking up to the voice of the heart that wants to be heard. To hear the heart and live from her rhythm, her beat takes true courage.

Each of us has our own unique rhythm…our unique frequency…unique sound. Imagine if we all started to consciously flow to our own individual heart’s rhythm…each one of us on the planet…do you think we would create a harmony? A harmony that could/would heal our planet and subsequently generations to come. I do.

I find it fascinating. The thing that (I see) stops us from truly following our heart, is the fear of not being accepted by the ‘tribe.’  However, those that choose to listen to as well as follow their heart and don’t look back, ultimately are respected and honored for following their hearts by the tribe. What is it that we are respecting and honoring? I believe it is the individuals courage and ultimately their self belief. It takes self belief to have courage and it takes courage to hear as well as follow the dreams God has put in our hearts.

Now here I go quoting Dr Brene Brown again who says, “Courage comes from the Latin word Coeur, which means heart. Courage means to tell the story of who you really are with your whole heart. It is the courage to be imperfect.”

The courage to be imperfect, to me, means the courage to try and fail. How many of us are willing to fail? Not too many, I guess. We’d rather trade our aliveness, our shot at fulfilling a destiny, leaving a legacy than potentially fail. Fail at what though? Could it be fail at being perfect. Just today I was caught up in my head drama, so decided to go for a walk. As I walked, I realised all the anguish I was experiencing was as a result of every where in myself I saw imperfections and the mere thought that others could see these so called imperfections was too much to bare.  I know it is this internal voice and this voice alone that prevents me from even hearing the dreams God has put in my heart.

I often wonder about how we are born free. Free of this voice and it is only through living in the collective mind and society that we find ourselves us in as children, that we develop this voice that says it’s not okay to be imperfect and that if we are not perfect there is something wrong with us. A few of us manage to escape this voice and remain free of it’s shackles. We recognise this in our society as somebody with a strong self belief.   I love this quote by Natalie Du Toit, the South African Swimmer who lost her leg and despite this setback went on to swim in the Olympic Games.

“What I have done (and are still busy doing) to overcome my adversity and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, I believe holds true regardless of your age, sex, race, religion, nationality or financial standing. It all comes from self-belief – an exceptionally powerful tool, if we could just learn how to use it correctly every day.”

Is self belief something then that we can be taught? Is it something that we can learn to develop and use correctly everyday? As some one with a dream to play a a part in the current movement to revolutionise education, these are the questions I am asking. I see an epidemic of young adults leaving our education systems with no real sense of self belief and if this is our most powerful tool, why are not being taught to access it and use it? Surely, if we are born with it or at least free of the voice that robs us of it, self belief is our birth right?

With it, our self belief, we have the courage to listen to and follow those dreams God put in our hearts. We have the possibility to heal ourselves and our planet for our children and our children’s children.

I’d like to conclude this post today with one of my favorite quotes by a man called John Taylor Gatto, who won the New York City Teacher of the year award in 1990.

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important: how to live and how to die.”

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Do you believe in the dreams God put in your heart?

Passion and courage is the legacy, I believe, my grandfather Vladimir Tretchikoff left me and this blog, inspired by his maverick spirit, is dedicated to passion and courage. Most people have an interest in their destinies, but they lack the passion or courage to fulfill them.

They don’t really believe the dreams God has put in their hearts.

As a result, they have not ignited their passion…their fire…the necessary fuel to do the things that will take them in the direction of fulfilling their dreams. Yet that is what separates the people who make an impact in the world and live truly fulfilled lives and those who just exist on the planet.

Have you discovered what your vision is? Having a vision…a dream for your life that you are connected to, is what ignites your passion.

Finding something you can put your whole self into will fill your life with new hope and purpose. It will give you a reason for living. My vision has become my passion. It wakes me up in the morning, and it keeps me going when I’m tired.

It is an antidote to depression.It causes me to have resilience in the midst of great opposition, which interestingly enough, generally comes from my own judgments of myself, my own internal critic. There are many amazing passionate people out there…many of whom I will be talking about on this blog post. One in particular is a woman called Dr. Brene Brown ( She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. In her latest TedTalk, Dr. Brown refers to our internal critic and say’s it runs two tapes; the first is ‘not good enough’ and if one can manage to talk it out of that one, the second tape is ‘who do you think you are?’

Having a powerful vision that you are committed to, combined with the passion that it ignites support one to develop the muscle to acknowledge the internal ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘who do you think you are?’ recording and not to react to it. I’ve come to realise, I can’t necessarily change the tape or make it stop, but I can choose whether I listen to it or not. In every moment I can choose to react from the internal critic or choose a response based on my vision…what I am committed to.

And what I am committed to is igniting passionate, creative hearts, in particular that of our youth, through guiding them to connect to an inspiring vision for themselves and their lives. You see, I know that the more someone takes passionate action towards achieving an inspiring dream they have for themselves and their life, the more they push beyond their usual limits, the more they discover capabilities they weren’t even aware they had, the more courageous and confident they become and ultimately the more fulfilled they are.

My vision is a world where we can all see and believe the dreams God has put in our hearts.

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Announcing ‘Tretchikoff and me’ Show

Tretchikoff and Me will take place at Salon 91 on Kloof Street in Cape Town, South Africa from 23 June – 21 July 2010. The exhibition will juxtapose original vintage prints by Tretchikoff (and a few specially produced for the show) with works in response to Tretchikoff by fresh, young and emerging artists.

One of the best supports an artist can receive is to be provided with a platform to exhibit his/her work and be recognised. The Tretchikoff and me show will take place during a time of maximum exposure and tourist activity in Cape Town being the Soccer World Cup and especially the area in which Salon 91 is located.

More info and artists to be announced shortly…watch this space

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‘Express your passion. Do what you love. No matter what.’

As a way of an introduction to the Tretchikoff Trust, I have a story to share with you about a conversation I had with my late grandfather, Vladimir Tretchikoff.

Every birthday I used to make him a birthday card and one year when I was already in my teens he said, ‘Natasha, you have a talent and I would like to give you art lessons. Would you like that?’ Now this was not a man whose offers you refused, so I very quickly said, ‘Yes. Of course Dadda (which is the Russian term for grandfather and what I called him), I would love that.’ So it was then that I would go to see him once a week for art lessons.

Now one particular day - a perfect summers’ day in fact - we were in his garden selecting a Protea as our still-life for that day and he said to me, “Natasha, what do you love doing more than anything in the world?” That was easy for me, “I love to think, talk and write about life or the big questions - Who am I? What is life really about? Why am I here? What is my purpose?” I said.

“Then this is what you must do, Natasha. This is what life is about, it’s about finding something you love doing so much that you don’t even notice time passing, something that the thought of doing really makes you happy and then doing it no matter what others think you should do or even what you think you should do, no matter what setbacks you experience, no matter what challenges come your way. Simply do what you love no matter what.”

I think he must have seen the slightly confused look on my face because he continued, ‘All my life I have loved to paint and that is what I have done, even when the odds were against me, I have continued to do what I love – to paint. When I was young and living in Java after the war, I dreamed of being a world famous artist and like many others in those days, I had the American Dream. I wanted lots of money, a house I owned, a Cadillac and a fur coat for your Nonna (Nonna is the Russian term for grandmother). So no matter what, I carried on doing what I loved – painting. When I was working towards my first exhibition, there were days when I worried that it would be a flop and I just carried on painting. When I was invited to tour America, there were days I worried about not being accepted by the American public, but I simply carried on painting and believing in myself. And you know what, if I look back, everything; the fame, the fortune, the American Dream it happened while I simply did what I loved to do.

So Natasha define your dream, believe in yourself and do what you love no matter what – create your masterpiece my darling!’

Well those few words have been the single most impactful words anyone ever has spoken to me and I have lived by them. So now, almost two decades on my ‘Dadda’s’ words are no longer just a concept to me, I have experienced them in my own life and I can share this with you.

When we commit ourselves to an inspiring dream and do what we love to achieve it – magic happens! We enthuse our everyday lives with purpose and fulfilment, because every day then is about doing what we love to ultimately achieve what we want – our dream.

Then in turn, commitedly taking the action to achieve our inspiring dream takes us out of our comfort zone and when we step out of our comfort zone (not only do we feel most alive), we create the opportunity to grow as an individual.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the dream is a means to an end and not the ultimate purpose of our lives. Why do we then go after dreams? Well, we go after them because we think they will make us happy. Underlying everything we do is the desire to be happy, content, fulfilled, right? However consider this; achieving the dream will never make us truly happy, content or fulfilled. It may bring us that temporal, transient kind of happiness; and then you will hear yourself saying, ‘there must be more!’ ‘What’s next?’

So, why then would we bother to pursue the dream if it won’t make us happy? Could it be, that who we become, how we grow as individuals as we overcome the various obstacles (internally and externally) on the road to achieving our dream, is what gives us the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfilment - not the achievement of the dream itself?

So yes it’s cheesy and yes it’s true; ‘It’s not about the destination, but rather about the journey!’ And if I look at my Grandfather’s life, he was never attached to the dream happening, he simply dreamed the dream, which gave meaning and purpose to his everyday and inspired him to continue to do what he loved to do, to paint. You could say the dream is what ignited his passion and the passion was the fuel he used to produce his artworks.

This all said; I believe ‘Dadda’ discovered life’s simple secret.

So by now you might be wondering what my dream is. Well, my dream is simply this; that every young person in this country has a ‘Dadda.’ Not to tell them what do to, but to inspire them to dream, to sketch the outline for their masterpiece and ultimately to life in their fullest colour!

You see, we know that the more someone takes action towards achieving an inspiring dream they have for themselves and their life, the more they push beyond their usual limits, the more they discover capabilities they weren’t even aware they had, the more courageous and confident they become and ultimately happier they are.

So here at the Tretchikoff Foundation we have launched the Tretchikoff Trust, which seeks to encourage young South Africans to believe in the power of dreams, helping to turn them into reality. Our focus is the creative arts – dance, drama, art and music. A percentage all sales goes into the Tretchikoff Trust Fund and is utilised to fund our various empowerment projects. By purchasing any Vladimir Tretchikoff Product, you will have contributed to making a young person’s dream come true.

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I love hearing your stories…

….and everyday I receive emails from people from the four corners of the globe who want to share their story with me about their Chinese Girl and I simply love hearing them. Not only that, I wish that everyone else could hear them too.

Think about it….it said that The Chinese Girl print has sold more copies than that of the Mona Lisa. That means there are millions of Chinese Girls out there - all around the world! So aren’t you curious? Think of all the places she must be. Imagine all the things she’s seen. I know I’m curious. So come on, share with us the story of you and your Chinese Girl.

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A Tretchikoff Revival - A Tretchikoff Retrospective

We are very pleased to announce that a Vladimir Tretchikoff Retrospective will launch in October this year (2010) at a major South African (the artists home for 60 years) Art Institution.

The show will include many iconic works that, for the most part, have only ever been seen in faded prints. Notably, the most iconic work, the Chinese Girl, said to have sold more copies than that of the Mona Lisa will be traveling home for the exhibition.

For the decades from the 1940’s until the 1970’s Vladimir Tretchikoff received unprecedented coverage in the media and his exhibitions still hold records for attendance. Despite this he received hostile reactions from many in the established art community who saw his hugely popular art as kitsch.

Since that time many younger generations of artists and critics have championed Tretchikoff  as a ‘people’s painter’ who was a head of his time in many aspects of his art and how he marketed it.

The Retrospective will re-examine Tretchikoff and show his work in a new light that will aim to bring the originals of his work to a new generation and present him afresh to the public. This will also herald the first time in history that an academic or scholarly study into Tretchikoff’’s work and contribution to the arts has been done.

Readers who own original Tretchikoff oil paintings (as opposed to prints)  are encouraged to contact either Natasha Swift of the Tretchikoff Foundation or the curator of the Retrospective Andrew Lamprecht ( for consideration of  inclusion into the show.

Naturally, owners details will remain confidential. Works will be professionally packaged on site by Elliot International Art Relocation’s Division, couriered as well insured in transit by our sponsors. Once the works arrive at the gallery, they will be under the insurance of the gallery.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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