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