Dylan Lewis

I first heard of Dylan Lewis about 20 years ago when a group of impressionable students and little old church ladies erupted with outrage at one of his pieces displayed in the vicinity of the University of Stellenbosch. They labeled it satanic and called for its removal lest young minds be sullied. The piece in question was titled Male Trans-figure II and is described by the artist as “… celebration of the vital energy, life force and spirit of all that is truly wild.” Their outrage caused a ruckus and many of us were curious to see what the fuss was about. Below is one from the series; this one is Trans Figure IX. Scroll down for a selection of pieces less likely to cause outrage.

Dylan Lewis is an internationally renowned sculptor inspired by the nature around him. This is evident in the way he laid out his wonderful Sculpture Garden in Stellenbosch. High up the mountainside, past the manicured lawns of the rich and infamous, past the wine estates for which this region is most famous, you eventually come upon a most unassuming entrance and you’ve arrived. Lewis has transformed this 7-hectare piece of land by creating contours and waterways, planting mostly indigenous fynbos, and placing many of his works around the garden. New pieces are added all the time, and the most recent ones are gigantic in size, reflecting the new direction he’s taking.

The result is simply magnificent – from unused farmland to a wilderness of valleys, hills, fields, and several water features sourced from a natural spring and mountain river. The garden is open to the public, by appointment, and one can wander alone or with a guided tour – I highly recommend the guided tour because this is art that warrants explanations and history.

Dylan Lewis’s early career featured big cats and his series of leopards is well-known – there are even some wild ones still living in the mountains above the Garden. One wonderful piece is displayed at one of the entrances of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and there are several at the very hoity-toity Delaire Graff wine estate in Stellenbosch, as well as various others around the Cape, probably in many wealthy private gardens. Read more about Dylan Lewis here and here.

My photos taken on a recent visit to the Gardens. The birds are his father’s artwork.

Is this not the most magnificent piece of work?

I’m still hoping to raise enough funds to pay off my touring vehicle – the link is below. All contributions are welcome!

Too much wine, too little time

wine intellectual part of a meal

I don’t understand something and no-one has been able to explain it in a way that makes any sense. Many people have agreed with me but I don’t see anyone making an effort to pressure the industry to change this.

Here’s the thing: wine estates in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek close much too early in summer.

There are plenty of other wine regions (where establishments also close early) but I’m mainly concerned with these two because they’re the ones tourists want to see the most and they’re the ones that are all over social media begging us to bring visitors. They hire expensive PR companies, they arrange great events, but for a simple wine tasting with the potential sales that this will encourage, it’s strictly short hours. Most open at 10:00 which makes sense because who wants to taste wine any earlier, but they almost all close at 17:00 and some even earlier.

Many visitors don’t realise how vast the regions are so they only set aside one day for wine tasting. This means that if you remove the time it takes to have lunch, visit the towns themselves – which would be crazy to miss, and get around, you have at most 3 hours for wine tastings and cellar-tours. Yet, by the time most places close there are 3 to 4 hours of daylight left!

Of course there are some estates that stay open later than others but there are too few of them and they’re not always the ones that clients want to visit – many visitors arrive with a bucket list of wines to taste after having researched in advance.

I need a place with magnificent views of the sunset where my clients can have a last tasting before heading back to town. It can’t be on Hellshoogte Pass because that’s too middle-of-the-day – closer to the N2 would work. I might have to build it myself.

Fairview goats blog pic

The most photographed goats in the Cape – at Fairview where the best cheese is made. A cheese and wine pairing is the highlight of a wine tour – but the latest booking is 15:30!

waterford

Chocolate and wine tasting at Waterford. Good wines, great setting, but the last full tasting (8 wines) is done at 16:30. Oh well, have a look at the gorgeous old vine in the background.

ken forrester blog pic 2

I love the casual setting for tastings at Ken Forrester – closes at 17:00.

Ken Forester blog pic

Sneaking in another one from Ken Forrester – this tiny house in the middle of the parking lot is too cute for words.

delaire graaf

Couldn’t resist sneaking in a pic of the fabulous view on Helshoogte Pass from Delaire-Graff, where it’s more about opulence than anything else.

Art galleries

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I find art galleries a bit intimidating because I have plebeian tastes and no money. Unlike my friend Caroline, who also has no money but knows art and has no fear of playing the serious buyer (together, we’ve pretended to be serious buyers of all sorts of things from precious art to luxury homes, but that’s another story).

Recently the painting above caught my client’s eye. I screeched to a stop on the main drag in Franschhoek and the haggling began.  I suggested the gallery pass my commission on to the client (I’m nice that way) but the snooty gallery assistant with a fake poncy accent was having none of that because apparently I need to register with the gallery in advance, which I hadn’t done since I don’t generally plan on shopping with clients. Regardless of my client’s obvious wealth, the snooty one managed to talk down to everyone as if we were a bunch of bergies asking for a hand-out. He was eating cold pizza but the gallery is just opposite a restaurant that’s just  been voted the best in Africa. Just saying.

Once my client had concluded the deal (R36k including shipping) we were then told to stop trying to take photos of the painting. My client pointed out that the painting was now HERS and she could do what she wanted with it. While they were arguing I took the photo – cell phones are sneakier than fancy cameras with foot-long lenses.

My client then tasked me with ensuring the painting arrives in New York. Yikes. I did and it did.

The photo below, however, is of a pencil drawing I fell in love with at an art exhibition, also in Franschhoek, at the lovely Grande Provence Estate. Weeks later I was in Stellenbosch and spotted the gallery where this artist’s work is displayed. My heart stopped and I entered. This time it was a vastly different experience. The artist’s son, whose lovely jewellery is also displayed there, was manning the gallery and a nicer man you couldn’t hope to meet.  I didn’t get his name, shame on me; there was a time I would have got his phone number, too.

The artist is Greg Lourens and you can see his work here.

This one sells for a bit more than the top one but they have prints of the art, so I bought one for a whole R30.

GregLourens

Disclaimer: my photo of the above pencil drawing has too many reflections to do it justice so I’ve used this one from the website.

Summer round-up

Varsity Cup in Stellenbosch - is this not the most beautiful backdrop for a sports match?

Varsity Cup in Stellenbosch – is this not the most beautiful backdrop for a sports match?

Oh the shame of it! Months since my last entry, can you ever forgive me? It’s been a busy summer, well that’s my excuse, anyway. What’s yours for having no blog at all? I know some of you would be very entertaining.

Catch up of last few months.

Vida is thriving and still acts like a puppy; her love affair with Bijou the Yorkie is still on-going despite his offspring-producing infidelity. Her Facebook status has had to be changed to ‘open relationship’ and she’s having a lesbian thing with Frank’s dog, Inge. Bijou’s 2 year ban on entering my property was temporarily lifted a few weeks ago and the plants are still in severe shock. I have finally planted a herb and veg garden (veg = mainly lettuce, can’t be fagged with much else) in a canny tire-garden to keep Vida out. Photos of that will come later when it’s more brag-worthy.

Summer has been totally awesome – sadly it’s almost over and the classic Capetonian complaints will begin while we suffer our way through a whole 3,25 months of extreme winter at 13 degrees C. Most of this complaining will take place on Facebook between myself and my 2 friends Vangie and Cathy. In the meantime we’re enjoying the last few sunny weeks. Braaivleis, sunny skies and no Chevrolet. Yes, I left ‘rugby’ out of that famous line, give me a few moments..

This was the first full summer season of Tours du Cap and, after a slow December, things took off like a bomb! I even had double bookings and turned a few away owing to short supply of vehicles! Howzat?? The tours were mostly classic peninsula and winelands with a few exceptions – like the time we did Robben Island, Iziko Slave Lodge and Holocaust Centre all in one day – never again, it was so emotionally draining I’m sure there’s a part of my heart I’ll never get back.

Clients were an interesting mixed bunch. From the illicit lovers, to the family with children who tried to kill each other in the vehicle, to the wealthy Russians from Chicago who know more about wine than I do, to the charming 11 year old who collects olive oil and can discuss it like a pro .. that’s what I love about this job, the variety of clients. Oh, and the lovely lunches at expensive wine estates.

And the rugby! Yes, dear reader, I actually attended, and thoroughly enjoyed, a RUGBY game! No ordinary game either, this was in Stellenbosch – some consider this lovely historic town as the heart and home of South African rugby. The Maties (home) team is the best and the supporters are considered by professional players to be the best in the country. And I was there! On a very hot evening, one of the earlier VarsityCup games was Maties versus NMMU (aka PE), and I took a group of viticulture students from France as part of their tour. They’re all rugby lovers so first they played on the lawns which thrilled them no end because of the welcome and encouragement they received from passers-by, and then we watched the game. They raved non-stop about the atmosphere, the beautiful girls, the backdrop of mountains, and so on. Having sneaked a few more beers than permitted by the teacher, they were in high spirits and sang all the way home.

And here are the photos – I had to include the cheer-leaders because the students cheered for them louder than for the game itself! Only Frenchmen …

The cheerleaders who received much cheering from the young French students.

The cheerleaders who received much cheering from the young French students.

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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