I have had the privilege of knowing Marco Cianfanelli since he was a Fine Arts and Art History student at Wits many years back and have followed his career with great interest. I was of course well aware of his monumental sculpture of Mandela constructed at the site of Mandela’s capture near Howick on that fateful August day in 1962. However, it was nowhere in my consciousness when I drove through the Midlands on the way to the South Coast recently. Taking the R103 exit off the N3 at Lions River to make my way in the dusk to my night’s stop-over, I was bowled over to suddenly come across the sign saying Mandela Capture site. Too dark and late to visit, I ensured that the next day I made my way back. What an amazing piece of public art. At nearly 10 meters tall, the large scale ensures that it can be seen from afar. Carefully orchestrated, the axis of approach takes the visitor down a long bricked and landscaped path with the sculpture at the focal point silhouetted against the backdrop of the rolling hills of the Midlands landscape. From a distance the 50 steel tubes look like a modernist non-figurative sculpture but of course as one approaches there is mounting anticipation of seeing the iconic head emerging from these seemingly abstract forms. In the distance the tiny figures of fellow visitors near the sculpture reinforced its monumental scale.
And at a distance of 35 meters from the sculpture (marked by an inlay in the bricks and a plaque) the full iconic profile comes into focus.
As one moves closer the image dissolves again – ephemeral and transient – until standing beside the sculpture one is dwarfed by high vertical tubes which return to making an abstract statement.
Cianfanelli comments on this structural paradox (http://marcocianfanelli.com): ‘From its main focal point, the sculpture reads as a familiar photographic image, structurally suggestive of his incarceration, while from a side view, the design and arrangement of the columns create a sense or moment of fracture and release.’
I made my way back up the path to the museum which has the Mandela exhibition from the Apartheid Museum on show. It provides an excellent overview of Mandela’s life covering all his different identities and roles.
Although I was delighted a week later to go to Nirox and see the maquette for this sculpture on display at After the Rainbow Nation, for obvious reasons much is lost in the maquette: the impact of scale; the relationship to the setting and landscape; the powerful connotations of the location and site; and on a purely visual level – the shift from two – dimensional verticals to a three -dimensional face, is much less clear in the small scale maquette.
And now we have a further aspect of Madiba’s life memorialized by Cianfanelli again in his sculpture outside the Magistrates’ Court in downtown Joburg. For more on the large scale Shadow Boxing see Laurice Taitz’s article on http://todoinjoburg.co.za/2013/06/nelson-mandela-statue/
Although our oak tree (which is the origin of Liz at Lancaster’s acorn logo) is dropping leaves at an alarming rate causing Thandie, Zac, Alick and Catherine the Sisyphian task of never-ending leaf sweeping , other plants are in full bloom.
Our indigenous pavement garden has wonderful colour accents with the flame fingers of the Euphorbia , the warm brick red of the aloes which are just coming into bloom, and the wonderful purple and orange complementary colours of the Strelitzia.
Arums are in full bloom and the self-seeded primulas have sprung up in between the peace-in- the-home on the path next to the bird feeder.
I was lucky enough to have a few days break a couple of weeks ago – my locum was free to step in here at Liz at Lancaster and friends in Southbroom down on the South Coast had agreed to have me to stay for a few days. So I set off on the road down the N3 to Durban on a clear Highveld autumn day. It’s a brilliant road in great condition and although there is lots of maintenance on the go, there are no ‘stop-go’ road-works. Getting away early from the guesthouse is always difficult, so I left around mid-day and broke the trip with a stopover in the Midlands. Debbie Hayes used to run 42 on 2nd, a great guesthouse in Parkhurst, and like Liz at Lancaster, was part of the Rosebank Region Accommodation Association. After selling and moving to the Natal Midlands she and her husband opened up a two-roomed guesthouse on their fabulous property near Dargle. Hambleden is a delight – it’s quaint, charming, peaceful and picturesque. After dinner catching up with Debbie and Simon, I slept like a baby in a wonderfully comfortable bed with great quality linen. For a townie like me it was sheer heaven to sit on the stoep in the morning sun and look over the dam in the front of the house and to the cows in the field to the left.
I even managed to buy the last 2 bottles of Debbie’s homemade Ruby Grapefruit marmalade. As you can see from the score-card, Liz at Lancaster guests will soon be enjoying marmalade bought directly from the champion marmalade-maker herself!
After a wonderful ‘English’ breakfast at Piggly Wiggly, a visit to the amazing Mandela sculpture at the site of his capture on the R103 (more of that in another post), and an impulsive splurge at a Belgian chocolate shop (under the pretext of course, of a buying something for my hosts in Southbroom), I was on my way again.
Thanks Debbie and Simon for a great stay. If you will have me, I’d love to be back to explore more of the Midlands Meander.
I went out last Sunday to spend a glorious autumn day out of town at Nirox where nature, fresh air, good friends, and happy times met. Located in the Cradle on the Kromdraai Rd between the Rhino and Lion Park and Sterkfontein, the Foundation was established by the art philanthropist Benji Liebmann and is used primarily for artists’ residencies – so is only open to the public when there is an exhibition at week-ends from 10 to 5. Currently there is a great sculpture exhibition curated by Mary- Jane Darroll. A number of works on this show were part of The Rainbow Nation, an exhibition of South African sculptures held in The Hague last year. Hence the title of Nirox’s exhibition: After the Rainbow Nation. So in addition to the works shown in Holland, there are several site specific works, and several that are placed to speak to, and with, the surrounding landscape setting. For example on a purely visual level the orange red aloes form a counterpoint with Gordon Froud’s Cone Virus – large scale orange ‘traffic cones ‘ of mild steel . Angus Taylor who works with notions of deflation and inflation adds further contradiction by using the hard tensile medium of bronze to represent crumpled collapsing forms – like Disproportions of Deflation, Artist II which images bodiless clothes lying in water.
Deborah Bell’s large scale work Artemis with Dog I – III is powerful and monumental and dominates its partially enclosed stone -walled setting. Myth has it that Artemis or Diana the virgin goddess of hunting was spied on by Acteaon while she was bathing – not a popular move with a virgin goddess. As punishment she turned him into a stag and then set her dogs on him. (Titian’s great late work of Acteaon as a half-man half-stag being devoured by dogs has always been for me, one of art history’s most powerful and tragic images.) The dogs in Bell’s sculpture are wonderfully evocative and as they are shown running up the incline towards a sculpture of a lone male figure (Beezy Bailey’s Peaceman), the tragic outcome of this virgin goddess’s ire seems to be implied.
So there is still time to get out to this exhibition which has been extended till the end of July. This Sunday 2nd June, Momo Gallery is hosting the second concert in the Jazz in the Cradle series and the good news is it seems there are still tickets available. The gates open at 10, the food vendors and bars open at 11.30 (sadly no picnics), and the main act, the tribute to Zim Ngqawana starts at 14.45.
Our early winter fare at the Parks galleries is very varied with lots of different genres and styles in evidence.
Just above the mantel piece is an exhibition of works by Karin Preller which opens at Artspace on Wednesday 5th June. The one liner description of the show is: ‘Seeing things differently: the immutable presence of objects.’ Artspace is found at Chester Court 140 Jan Smuts Ave and the exhibition closes on the 3rd July.
Further down the drag at David Krut Stephen Hobbs has a solo exhibition entitle d Be Careful In the Working Radius. Hobbs’ conceptual works range across artistic disciplines. Interested in plotting and mapping the city, in this exhibition he looks at the dystopic space of the city as one where intersections of ‘difference, complexity, opportunism, and irony’ intersect. Works on show comprise a series of editioned woodcut and lino prints; some ‘once-off’ works in which he alters the trial proofs of the editions; some sculptural objects made from the woodblocks; as well as a limited edition pop-up book
Showing at Circa on Jellicoe until 30 June is Neill Wright’s The Hilary of Reality. Working with images from popular culture and working in various mediums: drawing, print, painting, sculpture, animation and installation, Wright works with irony, humour and cynicism to comment on the consumerism and moral stagnation of contemporary South Africa. He writes: ‘We are bombarded with ideas of permanent leisure, pleasure, quick fixes and get rich quick schemes’ … and it is this ‘dark undercurrent’ which he wishes to expose.
Opening on 6th June across the road from Circa, at Everard Read are two solos exhibitions by the two women artists Nicola Taylor and Sasha Harstlief. Nicola Taylor’s exhibition Root and Rise as the title suggests, deals with the subject matter of trees and birds in various mediums of oil, charcoal, etching and 2 installation pieces. Hartslief works are evocative, romantic portraits of women predominantly in oils. Both exhibitions close on 29th June.
At the Goodman Gallery, Sue Williamson’s exhibition All Our Mothers, ’celebrates the strength of the extraordinary women who helped to bring this country to freedom, and examines the generation gap between these wise, iconic veterans of the struggle, and their granddaughters, the confident young born frees. Williamson’s multi-screen video installation, There’s something I must tell you portrays six intense conversations in which the older women recall important moments of their histories and their lives, and the younger women respond, and present their own forthright views on living in South Africa right now. Stories of exile, of the women’s march, of imprisonment evoke the ultimate question: Was it all worth it? The answers are sometimes surprising. ‘ (Goodman Gallery website May 2013). Accompanying the video installation is a new series of more than twenty photographic portraits of women taken over a thirty year period. This exhibition closes on the 15th June.
In Toto is showing the works of Saso Sinadinovski in an exhibition entitled Studies. On until 17th June.
At AOP (44 Stanley Ave) but closing next week-end, so there is not much time to get to see it, is the old favourite of Walter Battiss’ and Norman Catherine’s Fook Island. Their whimsical world of play and fantasy is always a delight. Apparently the idea of a ‘fake island’ came to Battiss after he had been to yet another exhibition of conceptual art in London: “So I decided while walking up Alymer Road that I’ll make up a concept of an island. The concept will become real. It won’t just be a selfish thing that an artist makes up and pins onto the wall, but something that everyone can participate in. That will make this island become real…[although] it is a fake island. I then rushed upstairs and looked under ‘F’ in the London directory and found the name ‘Fook’ ”, Battiss related to Barry Davidow in 1979 and cited by AOP in their press release.
Recently we had guests from New York stay here at Liz at Lancaster, one of whom was Molly-Vivian Huang, an accomplished concert pianist. They were visiting South Africa for a niece’s wedding up near Kruger, and I wrote to them on their return to ask how it all went. I was delighted to get this response from Molly:
The Ochre Studio was a pure delight: clean, cozy, relaxing, quiet and secluded. What a fantastic “home” away from home! On the first evening, we [found] FM102.7 the classical music station listed in your handy Info Book. We ate-in the second evening almost just so we could avail of this simple pleasure of rest and relaxation we found so therapeutic! On the third night, we met up for dinner with our sister at the Cnr Road Café down the road. Quite convenient to learn from our niece, a Mozambique resident, and also [found] through again, your lovely Info Book.
You won’t believe it, but since our first few days after arriving back home, we found ourselves tuning in again to FM102.7 on our IPAD; and minus the delicious rusks you have so kindly home-baked for your guests and the special blend of coffee, you’d think we’re back at the Ochre studio by Liz at Lancaster!!
And most exciting of all, Molly is going to send me one of her CDs.
We are very fortunate to have so many interesting and talented people stay with us at Liz at Lancaster.
We’re delighted to have received this news today:
TripAdvisor is delighted to recognise Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse with a 2013 Certificate of Excellence. This prestigious award, which places you in the top-performing 10% of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor, is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travellers.
Guests who stayed recently at Liz at Lancaster went off to Katzys in Rosebank for live music and had a great evening. Situated in the Firs , a mall in nearby Rosebank, right next to the well-renowned Grillhouse –this is the place to be seen. Resident bands perform 5 times a week , and patrons can order off the Grillhouse food menu plus there is a drinks menu which includes a wide selection of cocktails and over 100 different types of whisky. There is an extensive choice cigars on offer. Purpose built as a live music venue, Katzys has the latest sound and audiovisual equipment. It’s no wonder the young and upwardly mobile flock here. Katzy’s has a smart casual dress code, and that there is no cover charge from Mondays – Wednesday. On Thursdays (after 6.30pm) the cover charge is R150 per person, on a Friday (from 7.00pm) R100 per person, and on Saturdays (from 8.00pm) the cover charge is R100 per person. www.katzys.co.za 011 880 3945 The Firs , cnr Oxford and Bierman Ave Rosebank
Further to the south in Newtown at 10 Henry Nxumalo, is Bassline which was founded in 1994 in Melville and became known for jazz and blues. In 2003 the original Bassline closed and was resurrected in 2004 in the downtown Newtown Cultural Precinct, with a 1000-capacity concert venue and an smaller 150-seat performing space, both with top-of-the-range sound. In front of the Bassline is a life-size bronze sculpture of legendary songstress Brenda Fassie by artist Angus Taylor. See https://www.facebook.com/lizatlancaster#!/lizatlancaster/posts/10151610477991926 Coming up on the 24th and 25th May is the Africa Day concert where Ishmael Lo is going to be performing. For more about the events on offer at Africa day, see http://www.joburg.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2507&Itemid=168
The face of the travel and tourism industry is changing rapidly, not only in the way that people access information on their holiday destinations, but also the kind of travelers and the experiences they are looking for. According to Google, 19% of hotel queries came through mobiles in 2012 , and it is predicted that more people will access the web through their tablets or phones than from desktops or laptops in 2013.
Also the profile of travelers is changing. A new report released by the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG): The new kinship economy: from travel experiences to travel relationships, identifies changing trends. The report (cited by Tourism Update 13 March 2013) identifies new emerging categories of travellers:
Liz at Lancaster has just received a new batch of house wine: a cabernet sauvignon/merlot red from Stellenbosch and a Chenin blanc white. These are very drinkable wines at reasonable prices R52 a bottle for the red and R45 for the white.
Recently, we had guests who were off to Kruger after staying here and asked if they could take a bottle of our house wine when they left. Of course we were delighted to oblige. We didn’t know how the story would end though. We had guests who arrived some time afterwards having come from Kruger. When they saw our house wines they beamed and said ‘You won’t guess what happened to us . We opened a rubbish bin when we arrived at the Kruger exit to throw away all the stuff that had accumulated in the car and there on the top was a bottle (empty!) of Liz at Lancaster’s house wine. As you were our next stop, we felt this was a sign.!’
We are delighted that our house wines are so well travelled!