You’re not going to want to miss these two Cape-based art exhibitions this spring. Not only do they celebrate the beauty and rich diversity of South African landscapes, but they remind us of the importance of creative interpretation.
If you live in the Western Cape, you’ll know what we mean when we say spring suddenly feels like it’s finally arrived. After a long, wet, and grey winter, it’s with cautious optimism that we hope it’s here to stay. Indisputably here is October, which means that Garden Day is around the corner (break out your flower garlands and mark Sunday 15th on your calendars, our green-fingered friends!). It’s that time of the year when we encourage you to give thanks to Mother Nature for all that the season of rebirth welcomes in – which includes, towards the end of this month, two Cape-based art exhibitions that take as their starting point the Great Outdoors. From the landscapes surrounding one of Houw Hoek’s prettiest retreats to the farmlands of the Free State, let the inspiration behind these artists’ works remind you of how it feels to relish being outdoors again. Don’t forget to diarise:
AN ODE TO WILD CLIFFS: MOMENTS IN TIME
Wildekrans Country House, Elgin
Saturday 28 October – Sunday 5 November
Timed to coincide with this year’s Elgin Open Gardens, An Ode to Wild Cliffs: Moments in Time is curated by Voni Baloyi, with artworks inspired not only by the gardens and surrounding landscape of Wildekrans Country House, but equally by the teachings of Cape Town artist Jill Trappler. She explains, “The eighteen artists participating in the exhibition have all participated in art workshops I’ve led at Wildekrans Country House. Names include Jean Findlay, Patsy Groll, Christopher Peter, and Hester De Beer to mention a few. Expect to see an extensive portfolio of works that acts as an ode to the beautiful surroundings of Wildekrans Country House.” (If – like us – you visited the exhibition of Jill’s students’ work at the Spin Street Gallery in late 2022, you’ll know leaving disappointed isn’t an option, for works are of a high standard.) Recently awarded an Honours Degree in Curatorship from the University of Cape Town, and employed by the university’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, Voni sheds light on some of her conceptual thinking behind the exhibition: “What has been significant in seeing how the artists’ works converse with one another is how either one object, scene, tree, or vantage point can vary in mood, tone, colour and expression. It’s all so dependent on how a particular artist has engaged with their subject matter.” The exhibition will be opened at noon on Saturday 28 October by Andrew Lamprecht, curator at Iziko South African National Gallery. Make a day of it In addition to taking in the exhibition, visitors are invited to explore the beautiful outdoors at the historically rich escape, long known as an inspiring retreat for artists. See more of Wildekrans Country House here. Want to see more of Elgin? Don’t miss some of the Western Cape’s most beautiful gardens at Elgin Open Gardens, open to the public on both exhibition weekends.
Pictured top: Christopher Peter’s Snapdragons in a Stream at Wildekrans Farm, pencil crayon on paper. Pictured above left and right: Jill Trappler’s Wildekrans, mixed media on canvas; Wildekrans Country House.
ENFOLD, a solo exhibition by Christine Jacobs
Southern Guild, V&A Waterfront
Thursday 26 October – Thursday 16 November
The roots of mixed-media artist Christine Jacobs are deep. So deep, in fact, they stretch back six generations on (and to) her ancestral farm in Trompsburg, in the Xhariep District of the Free State province. Here, generations worth of the Jacobs clan have farmed Merino wool from the land’s resident sheep. In an exhibition that includes felt sculptures, charcoal drawings and photographs, Christine interacts with, explores and interrogates the landscape of her family’s home. “Energetically tied to the nostalgic terrain of my childhood, my practice responds to the symbolic significance of this environment, the physical and non-physical traces of change and exchange born of generations of my family’s reciprocal relationship with the farmland,” Christine explains of ENFOLD. So, what can you expect to see? Central to the exhibition is a series of organic, undulating sculptures made using felted Merino wool (from the family farm) – their outer shells call to mind the farm’s terrain, while the sculptures’ undersides are naturally dyed and evocative of the Free State earth. “I wrestled with, manipulated, climbed and crawled into their forms during construction,” says Christine of her interactive works. Mark making on these oversized sculptures intentionally suggests the shifting trails of local herds, territory borders and manmade roads within the farm.
Pictured above and below: Christine Jacobs sits inside one of her sculptures; the artist with resident sheep on her family farm.