Myra’s insatiable lust for life

Myra Bloomberg is still going strong at 85.

At 85 years old, Myra Bloomberg has managed to maintain an appetite for life that could rival a three- year-old’s.

And while many her age have slowed their pace to enjoy their golden years, Myra’s vivacious spirit shows no sign of abating.

The sculptor and ballet dancer lives in the city, in a flat that boasts unobstructed views of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.

“That’s where God is,” she says as she points to Table Mountain.

The sunny weather shows off a picturesque view but Myra’s royal purple top and matching colour bandanna are hard to ignore.

Barely five feet tall with a waist that could squeeze through a needle’s head, she paints a fragile image until she whisks one leg onto the balcony railing.

“I do my stretches like this at 5am every morning”.

Her leg lift is accompanied by an arm arching above her head, fingers elegantly poised; a pose she perfected during her years as a ballet dancer.

Sixty years ago she studied ballet at UCT ballet school and obtained her diploma. At the same time she studied art at Cape Technikon where she obtained her art diploma.

Myra’s daughter and only child, Charissa Bloomberg, says she doesn’t know how her mother did it.

“She was a single mother doing all these things. She was also a window dresser and won an award for it. She’s still so alive today. We cannot walk in a mall without her talking to everyone,” said Charissa.

It doesn’t take long see that Myra’s flat is an extension of her. Old newspaper clippings written about her art work and old pamphlets advertising her art exhibitions are scattered everywhere. The radio is tuned onto a classical station. Myra says she simply “cannot live without music”.

Beautiful sculptures are scattered around her small living room. Some are mounted on the wall, others litter the floor and still more are propped up on shelves.

Myra points to a bronze sculpture of a magnificent snake slithering towards a naked man and a naked woman weeping. The piece is called the Banishment of Eden and there are at least a half dozen other sculptures in the room with biblical connotations. “I live for the Bible. I became a better person because of it”. Cast in bronze on the floor is the woman who came from the rib. Beneath her lie Hannah and Samuel. At the window are Noah and his magnificent ark. Myra says these are mere “interpretations” of what she has learned from the Bible.

“We have a cheek to think we know how Eve or Sampson or Hannah looked. I don’t. I was born much later,” she says cheekily.

Besides the biblical artwork, there is also Charlie Chaplin immortalised in bronze with his famous walking stick.

Just below Charlie is a boy sitting and holding newspapers. “I call this one Argie boy. I saw him years ago in town selling the Argus newspaper. He was shouting ‘Argie, Argie’ and he had a crippled leg. I rushed back home to do a piece of him”.

Myra has had her artwork evaluated and they are worth a pretty penny.

She says she has about a hundred pieces she would like to sell and she urges buyers to come forward. Although bronze seems to be her material of choice, there are a few other pieces made of clay, wood and fibre glass. There are also a number of drawings propped up against the wall.

Growing up in a family who were all “business people”, Myra jokes that they may have taken “the wrong baby”.

“All of my family were business people. Where did I come in as an artist?”

Brought up in a strict Jewish faith, her parents came to South Africa from Russia with “nothing but two silver candle sticks and a wine goblet”.

They had a clothing shop in Hanover Street called Waynicks, later followed by three more stores called Lawleys, Young Ideas and Curtis.

Myra says the flat belonged to her family and she will never move away.

Besides her art, she fills at least four days of her week feeding feral cats on a hill not too far from her home. A strict vegetarian, Myra does not eat meat or fish but has no problem preparing it for the wild creatures.

Making her way to the spot, the cats one by one come into view, each greeting Myra by rubbing against her leg.

She prepares a fresh dish of water and food and as they feed she grooms them with an old brush she takes out of her bag.

“I love animals. How can you not?” If you would like to find out more about Myra’a sculptures call 082 737 8988 or email to cb@hiddendimensions.co.za