South Africa has such a vibrant mix of cultures and people that Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu aptly described his home country as the ‘rainbow nation’. This cosmopolitan personality is reflected in South Africa’s wealth of art, stretching through time from 10,000-year old rock paintings to contemporary street art in inner city Jozi (Johannesburg).
Step inside South Africa’s galleries and private art collections, and you’ll not only see inspiring creative talent but also get to know more about South Africa, her people, their history and their hopes.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MoCAA)
You’ll need a good few hours to explore all the gallery spaces in Cape Town’s Zeitz MOCAA (about 100 in total!). The Zeitz houses the largest collection of contemporary African art in the world, including works by leading artists such as Marlene Dumas, Nandipha Mntambo and Kudzanai Chiurai. Then there’s the incredible design of the building itself, carved into the concrete grain silos at the V&A Waterfront.
Iziko South African National Gallery
This famous gallery in Cape Town’s tree-filled Company Gardens displays a collection of largely South African, Dutch, French and British works from the 17th to the 19th century. Selections from the Permanent Collection change regularly ensuring a wide range of art works including fine art, photography, lithographs, etchings, sculpture and beadwork. Look out for the famous work by Jane Alexander, ‘Butcher Boys.’
The newly opened Norval Foundation has a magnificent setting on the edge of a natural wetland. Purpose-built exhibition spaces showcase 20th– and 21st century visual art, while lofty glass walls let in the Table Mountain views. Join their 2pm gallery tour, wander the beautifully laid out sculpture gardens, have cocktails at Skotnes Restaurant and check their programme for upcoming musical performances at the outdoor amphitheatre.
Ellerman House, a Relais & Chateaux hotel in exclusive Bantry Bay, is famous for its extensive art collection with nearly 1,000 original works lining the walls of the hotel and on display in The Ellerman Contemporary Art Gallery. This collection is only on show to guests at Ellerman, who can join the hotel’s art guide, Talita, for a private tour through the collection.
Woodstock Galleries & Street Art
Woodstock is home to a number of galleries including both the Stevenson and the Goodman. Another side to this suburb, however, is its incredible street art by both local and international artists. Parts of Woodstock are rather dilapidated, so we’d highly recommend a guided walking tour with a local artist to get a good feel for the area’s creative pulse.
Delaire Graff lies on the magnificent Helshoogte Pass between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. This beautiful wine estate has interiors filled with pieces from the private collection of the founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff. Worth noting in particular is Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl (currently on display in the entrance to the main building), and the Dylan Lewis’ bronze cheetahs in the gardens.
A life-size elephant sculpture greets you outside the tasting room of Grande Provence. This Franschhoek estate has a gallery with exhibitions that usually change every six weeks; a shop selling ceramics, textiles and traditional African art; and my personal favourite the sculpture garden – which you can stroll around while sipping your favourite Grande Provence wine.
The Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden
The Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden sits on the lower slopes of the Stellenbosch mountains. Here, six acres of tranquil groves and lush fynbos (indigenous vegetation) frame more than 60 pieces by world-renowned South African sculptor Dylan Lewis. Walk amongst human forms, shamanic figures and his famous big cats, each carefully placed in harmony with the towering mountains and natural surroundings.
The La Motte Wine Estate has a museum that hosts contemporary art exhibitions, while its largest gallery dedicated to the life and art of one of South Africa’s greatest masters J.H. Pierneef. After viewing the works on display, you can opt for a guided sculpture walk finishing with a tasting of the estate’s limited release Cap Classique under the oak trees in the garden.
Arts on Main
This hip-and-happening precinct of reclaimed warehouses in downtown Johannesburg now houses the studios of numerous artists and designers. World-renowned South African artist William Kentridge was one of the first tenants in the building, and you’ll also find a number of contemporary art galleries including the Goodman and the Seippel. A great place for a day out in Jozi!
Everard Read & CIRCA
The Everard Read is Africa’s oldest commercial art gallery and, in 2009, the CIRCA building was developed alongside the gallery. This three-story Guggenheim-like structure quickly gained the status of a modern landmark in Johannesburg and, together with the Everard Read is renowned for featuring the work of top South African artists including Dylan Lewis, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Beezy Bailey.
In The Wild
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve
Set in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, the multi-award winning Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve is the custodian of over 130 unique rock art sites – some as old as 10,000 years! The Bushman used natural pigments such as ochre, animal blood and plant juices to paint human figures and animals such as eland and small antelope.
‘Art of Travel’ Holiday in South Africa
Art, History, Culture, Food & Wine: we’ve put together an ‘Art of Travel’ journey staying at The Silo in Cape Town (above the Zeitz MOCCA), Delaire Graff in the Cape Winelands and Bushmans Kloof in the Cederberg. Daily activities include a private guided gallery tours, wine tastings and sought-after restaurant bookings. Take a look.
Or, to start planning your own luxury holiday in South Africa, simply get in touch.