ART in FRANSCHHOEK (this article first appeared in the Cape Times in October 2016 / updated March 2019)
As if superb wine, great food and breath-taking scenery weren’t enticing enough, Franschhoek has now added art into the mix to compliment its impressive offering. Art Franschhoek, an initiative organised and hosted by the Franschhoek Wine Valley. The inaugural event took place in 2016 and now happens annually in October, and aims to introduce and showcase art by emerging and established talent that can be viewed in a variety of artistic disciplines throughout the village.
Beautiful drive into the village
The journey to Franschhoek, fifty minutes from Cape Town, is as beautiful as the destination and the art that awaits. Depending on the time of the year, the vineyards are either awash in a pantone of autumn colours or verdant as far as the eye can see, framed by a glorious backdrop of blue tinged mountains.
Curate your walkabout
The beauty of Art Franschhoek is that you can tailor make your own art walk using an informative map (see below). 23 participating galleries, situated along the main street, down side roads and on wine estates, will be more than enough to satisfy the most demanding of arty appetites.
La Motte, aside from being a top end wine estate, is also home to an enviable treasure trove of art, housed in a beautifully restored Cape Dutch manor house. The private art collection of Anton and Huberte Rupert is kept here- 350 exceptional pieces by masters such as Irma Stern, Maggie Laubser, Walter Battiss and Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef who is acknowledged as one of the world’s most prolific South African landscape artists. His work encompasses a series of sketches, graphics, linoleum cuts and personal memorabilia that is mesmerising. Sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Käthe Kollwitz, as well as French tapestries by Jean Lurçat can also be viewed.
Aside from its art, La Motte offers interesting Historical and Sustainable Walks through the vineyards and scented fynbos gardens. The estate observes ethical farming practices and supplies fresh produce grown there to the farm shop and restaurant called Pierneef a la Motte. Take a seat there mid meander and enjoy a glass of bubbly and the Winelands Tea which I can highly recommend. La Motte is a fine example of a fusion of heritage, culture and cuisine.
Month long event
During the month long Art Franschhoek showcase, A Sense of… will be presented in La Motte’s Maturation Cellar and will feature bespoke pieces inspired by wine and created by 20 ceramicists including Lisa Ringwood, and Clementina van der Walt. On the subject of clay, Sarah Walters will launch a new range of domestic ware called Essence and her father David will have his porcelain on show. Sarah’s background in sculpture has strongly contributed to her innovative use of form and the experimental nature of her work. At the Ceramics Gallery in Dirkie Uys Street, curated by David Walters, Durbanite Louise Jennings will exhibit her ceramic installations, part of which is called A very still place-paintings and ceramics inspired by a history of objects and memory.
John Newdigate’s Square Clouds in the Sky, will be on show at Ebony, an engaging space on Huguenot Street where classic and contemporary fine art is combined with exclusive local design and furniture that runs the gamut between tables, lamps and sofas to rugs made of Brazilian cowhide, and hand thrown earthenware. Zemba Luzamba, a Congolese painter, chronicles his experiences as an African immigrant in It is what it is wherein his paintings are described as having a narrative that shares vivid insights into everyday life. In his depictions of migrants playing pool, golf, tennis or gambling, it is not always clear where their leisure space might be, something described as non-specificity. Richard Smith has been producing complex artworks for about fifty years yet and is said to be at his peak, producing exciting abstract figurative works – his latest body of work, entitled Faceless, demonstrates this beautifully. Lisa Ringwood’s A Ramble of Plates, inspired by South African landscapes and the expanse of the Karoo. “Nature inspires me …my work represents my intimate engagement with this world”, she commented.
Anpa Jewellers on Huguenot Street has a unique jewellery collection as well as stunning pieces by various artists such as the Kenyan born and Cape Town based sculptor Stanislaw Trzebinksi whose bronzes are marvellously textured and detailed.
At the recently opened Moór Gallery in Bordeaux Street, This Place-This Space reveals works by Desmond Mnyila, Alfred Thoba, Francois Knoetze, Diane Victor and Willie Bester who is famous for his installations made from found objects – scraps and junk – that he combines with oil paints and photos. Bester, who lives in Kuilsrivier in Cape Town, started exploring art at the age of seven in his hometown of Montagu. It was only at the age of thirty that he revisited his curiosity about art and painting, turning professional in 1991. He has exhibited all over South Africa as well as in Italy, Dakar and Belgium. One of and his paintings bought through Sotheby’s for £10,000.
Art in the Yard
Run by gallerist Georgia Eccles Schoeman, it aims to promote local and international artists with innovative new ideas. Grand Provence will focus on four major works – one created per decade over forty years – by Andries Botha, a leading South African contemporary sculptor. After teaching and working on private commissions throughout his career, this retrospective will mark his debut showcase in his home country.
There will be several special talks, walkabouts, discussions and food and wine pairings taking place at several venues on Art Franschhoek’s launch weekend, 21 to 23 October. For more information visit www.franschhoek.org.za , call 021 876 2861 or visit the tourism office on 62 Huguenot Street.
After Art Franschhoek, the art route will available to the public to enjoy all year around with exhibitions changing on a regular basis. Whether photography, sculpture, craft, fine art or ceramics is your passion, Franschhoek has it all-the town is an art lovers dream.
Looking for the perfect place to lay your head in Franschhoek? Accommodation Direct has great properties on offer: https://www.accommodirect.com/destinations/franschhoek/
Until next time,