Tag Archives: sculpture

Art and Architecture in Stellenbosch (2020-08-16) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 APR 2021

Last year was of course filled with many quiet moments and even more quiet spaces. It doesn’t happen very often, but every now and then I get the opportunity to leave the girls behind with Chantelle and venture out on my own little photo walkabout – which is exactly what happened on one pleasant Sunday afternoon back in August of last year. So hello to the naked oak trees, classic architecture, and the oh so many pieces of art on public display of Stellenbosch and its university campus grounds!

Established along the banks of the Eerste River in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, the then Governor of the Cape Colony, the achingly beautiful Stellenbosch is recognized as the second oldest town in South Africa. Surrounded by mountains, filled with ancient oak trees, and home to much of South Africa’s historic wine industry, the relatively wealthy Stellenbosch is a town well worth visiting.

It is also worth mentioning that although technically Stellenbosch isn’t a university town as such, the reality is that it very much is, with the Stellenbosch University campus, faculty buildings, and student residences occupying much of the heart of this old town. What this then translates to is that when the students aren’t on campus then the town becomes a LOT quieter – and because the university is integrated into the town, you are able to casually stroll around these magnificent examples of old architecture whenever you like. In other words, there are a lot of pretty buildings waiting to be seen!

My casual stroll with camera phone in hand took me past the grandiose Dutch Reformed (NG Moederkerk) church, the eye catching red of the Stellenbosch University Museum, through the Jan Marais Square (Red Square) and over the underground Stellenbosch University Library, and past the majestic faculty buildings and large residences that so many students call home during the academic year. I walked alongside the surging Eerste River, down the historic Dorp street, and past so, so many art galleries just stuffed with the treasure of artistic endeavour. Seventh heaven for someone like me then!

USA 2019 – 16 National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington DC (2019-10-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 MAR 2021

There is such an incredible amount of things to see in Washington D.C. (even more so given my proclivity to all things historic, natural, and scientific) that it is near impossible to see everything unless you live there for at least a month. Thus, lists have to be made, and sights ordered in preference and importance, and this then is exactly what I had to sit down and do when first planning my three day stopover in the United States capital. As it stands, it is pretty easy to single out my biggest regret in terms of places NOT visited – the National Gallery of Art, one of the United States’ greatest art museums. That said, at least there is the small consolation prize of having walked through this institution’s playful Sculpture Garden – though I’m not sure if this makes me happy or just more sad at having missed out on visiting the real thing!

Sandwiched between the beautiful neoclassical West Building and the modern East Building of the National Gallery of Art complex, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is the most recent addition to the art museum, having opened its gates to the public in May 1999. It acts as an outdoor setting for exhibiting several pieces from the museum’s contemporary sculpture collection, and is anchored by a large central fountain which from December through to March is converted to an ice-skating rink.

Housing classic contemporary works like Roy Lichtenstein’s House I, Robert Indiana’s AMOR, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, the sculpture garden provides a small escape from the noise and the crowds plodding about the National Mall, where you can either amble through and discover work from names like Joan Miro, Tony Smith, Mark di Suvero, Barry Flanagan, and Roxy Paine (whose tall shiny Graft steals attention as you walk in), or simply sit down with a coffee and admire the view from a table at the artfully decorated outdoor Pavilion Cafe.

USA 2019 – 03 Exploring the area around Lafayette Square in Washington DC (2019-10-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 AUG 2020

Having a general idea of how to get to the White House and National Mall based on my observations during my SuperShuttle ride to the hotel just outside of China Town, I slowly picked my way through the streets of Washington DC until I stumbled into Lafayette Square, the seven-acre public park that forms part of President’s Park and which stands directly north of the White House.

Named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and hero of the American Revolutionary War, the public green space features big ornate bronze statues of revolutionary heroes from Europe in each of its four corners, and is centered by a well known statue of early 19th century U.S. President and general Andrew Jackson on horseback surrounded by cannons.

Of course, at the edge of the park is the White House, but clearly something of importance was happening on the day as there was a very visible police presence, there was a second barrier keeping you away from the famous fence, not to mention that a lot of the primary fence was boarded up, meaning that you couldn’t really get that famous view of the presidential residence. (At least I got to see Trump fly in to the White House on the Marine One helicopter while I was standing among the crowd comprised of fans, protestors and of course we the tourists!)

From there I sauntered around President’s Park, taking in all the grandiose architecture of the many stately and imposing office buildings that make up such a large part of Washington D.C.’s identity, as well as the myriad of home bases that the many varied associations take up to be close to the Capitol. As you might imagine its just columns, statues, memorials and that beautiful stone wherever you look.

Major General John A Rawlins, Simon Bolivar, Jose Gervasio Artigas, Jose Cecilio del Valle, the Daughters of the American Revolution, American Red Cross, the Organization of American States, the United States Institute of Peace – so much things to be seen and noted for further research back at the hotel I tell you!

(Another fine catch from my impromptu stroll down Constitution Avenue was that of the National Academy of Sciences and its brilliant bronze sculpture in tribute of famed scientist Albert Einstein.)

And then of course I crossed the road onto the National Mall as the magnificent Lincoln Memorial rose up before me…

A Stroll through Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2019-03-31) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 25 OCT 2019

I’m quite fond of the extremely accessible Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch. Situated within the town itself, the park is compact, has well marked out paths, gives gorgeous distant views of the Stellenbosch mountains, and really is a breath of fresh air and tranquility for any nature lovers out there.

This particular trip to Jan Marais saw me riding solo, with Chantelle busy with cakes/and or relaxing on the couch, and neither of my girls wishing to abandon playing with their friends in order to join me for a healthy walk. Not that this bothered me in the slightest though – the perfect opportunity then to take my time, first stopping to do some plane spotting at the Stellenbosch Flying Club, then tracking down the sports club and Danie ‘Doc’ Craven bronze statue that I remembered from my twenties, before finally setting out to explore the little nature reserve at my own gentle pace.

There is public art to behold, renosterveld fynbos to experience, a kids play area (which for a change I didn’t have to stop at), an outdoor gym for the eager beavers, enough space for both cyclists and walkers to enjoy at the same time, and it always makes for a great photo walk.

Perfect really.

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Art and Veld in the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2018-03-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 JAN 2019

I always love paying a visit to the awesome, beautifully compact, Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (about which I have written before). It is literally the perfect spot to stretch your legs and take in some fresh air without actually having to leave the bustle of the town behind.

Easy, wide paths to stroll around on, loads of interesting fynbos to take in, a scattering of art installations to admire or invoke conversation about, a small kids play area, an outdoor gym area, and the occasional tortoise or two.

Seriously, what is there not to love about this spot that finds itself smack bang in the middle of Stellenbosch itself?

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(Bonus: The slide at the end was a bit of an epic fail. Emily raced over to it, climbed to the top and then slid down, only to emerge crying her head off. Turns out the slide was home to a huge puddle of water at the bottom – which she had only noticed once she hit it. Absolutely soaked. All I can say is it was super lucky that Chantelle was with us for a change – mommy’s love was DESPERATELY needed! :D)

Related Link: Jan Marais Nature Reserve | Stellenbosch

Art in the Mosaic Kraal at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 MAR 2018

When it comes to picking out the granddaddy of visitor friendly wine estates in Stellenbosch, then surely the venerable Spier comes out right at the top of the list. It has been on the tourist welcoming bandwagon for many years now, and as a family we’ve also enjoyed the beautiful estate more than just a few times in the past.

Although the list of things to do at Spier has ebbed and flowed over the years, these days the wine estate still offers a smorgasbord of activities to both the day and overnight visitor – from wine tasting, picnics on their luscious lawns, self-guided walks and Segway tours, to dining at either Spier Farm Kitchen,  the Hotel Restaurant, Eight Restaurant, or the excellent Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery.

You can ride a horse, browse the Craft Market, shop at the Spier Gift Shop, watch birds of prey at Eagle Encounters, get a treatment at The Spa, visit the Spier Artisan Studio, or simply admire the countless examples of public art on display.

And then of course there is the plethora of art and music festivals that seem to take place all the time!

On of the oldest farms in South Africa, and one of the most environmentally conscious, Spier also puts a lot of effort in its community upliftment projects as well as supporting local art through its art academy and various art projects.

On that note, one of the newer displays on the grounds is the Mosaic Kraal, containing various mosaic art pieces created by local artisans.

Given that I had just entertained Jessica and Emily with a rewarding visit to the owls and eagles of Eagle Encounters, I thought it only fair that I take some time for myself and get a chance to leisurely browse through some of Spier’s art pieces – much to the frustration of two easily bored little girls.

So I sauntered a little slower to make sure it took just that little bit longer…

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It is really is hard not to enjoy strolling around Spier’s expansive grounds!

Related Link: Spier Wine Farm | Stellenbosch

High Tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town (2017-11-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 JAN 2018

On the 7th of November last year, Chantelle and I celebrated eight years of marriage to one another. To commemorate this special occasion, we decided to head out to Cape Town for High Tea at city’s famous Pink Lady: the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.

With its name taking inspiration from Cape Town’s Table Mountain and the fame of Lord Horatio Nelson, the historic Mount Nelson Hotel (now owned by the Belmond group) first opened its doors on the 6th of March 1899. It was the first hotel in South Africa to offer hot and cold running water, and it was described back then as being ‘even better than its London counterparts’.

Today this five star luxury hotel, complete with gardens, restaurants, a spa and a host of other amenities, holds on to its status of being a place of accommodation that achieves that perfect mix of tranquility and class in the middle of a bustling urban environment.

(To be honest, I kind of have to believe what they say – this place definitely does amaze when it comes to first impressions!)

For Chantelle of course, afternoon tea (or high tea as it is otherwise known) at the Mount Nelson is old hat – she’s done it more than a few times in the past, but for me it was definitely a first.

And admittedly, I have to say that I rather enjoyed the experience.

For a start, the newly renovated tea room is now light and airy, apparently very different to the darker, more reserved space Chantelle has previously experienced.

The setup is simple enough: you get shown to your table, you get assigned a tea sommelier (or a waiter if you’re unlucky), get a stand of savour finger eats placed down in front of you at your table, and then proceed to select two teas from a very exotic (and extensive) list of teas (while continuously heading over to the exquisite dessert buffet table to fill up on treats whenever you run short).

For reference, my first pot of tea was the Pu-Erh Royal 2009 red tea, followed by a pot of Lapsang Souzhong smoked black tea. Chantelle on the other hand gave the rather dramatic Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls oolong tea a go.

We had a particularly interesting tea sommelier (which is apparently now a thing) who spent a fair time talking tea with us, plus, given the fact that we were there for our wedding anniversary, we were even treated to a special little Happy Anniversary plating – much appreciated of course.

Sadly though, our romantic outing for two took a strange turn towards the end of the tea service – turning on our phones revealed that Emily’s school had been trying to get hold of us. Thanks to a MAJOR fire that was moving in onto Gordon’s Bay from Sir Lowry’s Pass, schools were being evacuated and basically we needed to abandon everything and get home fast!

Of course, being stuck more than an hour away from home meant that we had to phone up anyone and everyone in order to make a plan that ensured the kids were safe, and after a quick but slightly panicked stroll around the gardens to admire the exquisite Dylan Lewis sculptures out on display, we strapped in for a rather nail biting drive back home  through traffic.

(For reference, we were all safe, but the blaze on the mountain was massive, gutting a few houses and causing much panic and evacuations, before eventually turning back in gale force winds and heading up over the mountain again. Quite a spectacle to see the mountain at the back of our house burning so bright orange for the next couple of evenings! Also, turns out the saying is true – if you live in a fynbos rich area then you are pretty much guaranteed a major fire every ten years or so!)

Anyway, back to the high tea experience – it was actually really enjoyable to have done:

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In Summary: Afternoon Tea at the Mount Nelson is an expensive outing to be sure, but definitely one worth doing if you’re looking to treat your partner to something that is special and perhaps just a little bit out of the norm.

Related Link: Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel | Wikipedia

The Lions of Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town (2017-06-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 NOV 2017

I’ve written about the Rhodes Memorial on these pages before,  and earlier in June I took my two girls up the slopes of Devil’s Peak to go and see this unique, classically inspired memorial to the English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes.

Firstly, if you have never seen this national monument in person before, then the Sir Herbert Baker and Francis Macey designed structure sitting on the flank of Table Mountain (above my old alma mater UCT for that matter) is guaranteed to impress.

(Well, that said, the girls didn’t really think it was all that. The liked the stairs and the horse, but as far as what they were concerned, the most exciting bit was  the prospect of being allowed to take a photo or two with my phone camera, a promise that I had to make before we had even exited the car!)

Flanked by eight lions (cast by J.W. Swan and modeled upon those protecting Nelson column in Trafalgar Square), the memorial is fronted by the dynamic ‘Statue of Energy’, an imposing horse with rider sculpture – said to be a tribute to Rhodes’ restless drive and determination.

49 granite steps (one for each year of his life) then lead you to the main viewing platform which is adorned with a classic arrangement of Doric columns, the center at which stands the bronze bust of Cecil John Rhodes himself.

At this point of the photos, you might of course notice something slightly out of place.

Sadly, during the populist anti-colonialism outcry (complete with symbol defacement) that took place throughout South Africa in 2016, a few activists tried to behead the bust, ultimately failing in their attempt but doing enough damage so as to leave Rhodes without his nose.

As you might imagine, this does rather spoil the whole effect.

The site is also home to a popular tea garden and restaurant (makes sense when you consider the gorgeous view over Cape Town to be had from this location), and is also the starting base for a couple of popular Table Mountain hikes.

(The hour long walk to the King’s Blockhouse being one of those).

For the record, we didn’t pop in to the tea garden because we still had quite a few other interesting things to get to on the day (Llandudno Beach, Hout Bay Harbour, and World of Birds to be exact), but the girls were okay with that – after all, I did let them fool around with my phone camera for a bit…

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A visit to Rhodes Memorial doesn’t take particularly long, and no matter your view on colonialism or the likes of people like Cecil John Rhodes, it is worth a visit just for the architecture and view alone!

Related Link: Rhodes Memorial | Rhodes Memorial Tea Garden

Wine Tasting with Art at Saronsberg in Tulbagh (2016-12-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 AUG 2017

Forged in the 2000’s and named after the mountain whose western slope is home to many of their vineyards, Tulbagh’s award winning Saronsberg, despite the farm itself’s deep historic roots, is actually a relatively new wine producer, having only produced its first vintage back in 2004.

Saronsberg Wine Cellar is known as a patron of the arts, and as such have married their wine tasting facilities with an unique art gallery, showcasing the work of a broad spectrum of famous and proudly South African artists.

I’m particularly fond of Angus Taylor’s work, and his hauntingly beautiful “From Earth From Water” (more commonly known as Lady of the Lake) sculpture serves as Saronsberg’s official mascot.

In addition to the actual wine (and nowadays olive oil) production, Saronsberg caters as a superb conference venue, and if that wasn’t enough, accommodation in the form of elegant self-catering vineyard cottages is also on the books.

As for the wine,  well two of Saronsberg’s red wines stand at the top of SAWi’s (The South African Wine Index) scored list, meaning that you are guaranteed to taste something remarkable if you ever find yourself in the area.

Which is exactly what happened when Chantelle and I paid a visit to their wonderfully modern wine cellar facilities last December.

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A perfect marriage of wine and art.

(Hint: Angus Taylor’s “Conduit” stone man is a good indication that you’ve successfully navigated your way to Saronsberg!)

Related Link: Saronsberg Wine Cellar