Hurray for the galleries in the centre of Hermanus which hang out their orange lanterns on First Fridays to guide art lovers to the buzzing art hub and to get feet over the thresholds with lures of special exhibitions, wine and snacks. These evenings are well supported and fun. (The next one, on 6 December, is the annual Night of a 1 000 Drawings – not to be missed!) But what about the outlying areas? I took a look at the art scene from Rooiels to Stanford to see what else was available.
Well, gentle readers, prepare yourselves for a shock. When we say, Hermanus is THE art destination of the Western Cape, we mean the centre of Hermanus itself. Like the cheek-by-jowl shoe shops in the Golden Acre in Cape Town or the spice emporiums in Durban Market, the galleries have at last seen the strength in unity and do joint marketing. Most of the industry’s just-under-the-surface concerns have long disappeared as they have seen the benefit of collaboration. One gallery owner, now departed, was steadfast in her initial refusal to be “on the same page” as art galleries that also sold ladies’ fashions, indigenous trinkets or, heaven forbid, coffee and croissants! Well, the success of First Fridays soon got her on board.
My visit to the outlying areas of the Overstrand in search of art was a little disheartening. I saw nothing in Rooiels. In Pringle Bay the Pringle Bay Art Gallery was not to be found but it is in fact incorporated in La Galerie, a restaurant with art of the Rooiels-Kleinmond area (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). They are opening a seasonal show of local artists on the evening of Friday 6 December.
I did spot a notice advertising ‘Reflections on the Overstrand’, a group show of works by seven artists, opening on 30 November (running until April) at Bistro 365, Central Avenue, Pringle Bay.
Betty’s Bay yielded the art and décor shop, Silversands Antiques, but you will need your pathfinder’s badge to locate it. Try the little one-way lane, downhill, after the Caltex garage and you may end up in a parking area outside The Village Centre where Silversands is located. They show small artworks by local painters and a variety of décor items.
Don’t overlook John the Potter in Betty’s Bay (easily found as it is located right on Clarence Drive). He is recovering from a serious car accident and is throwing again. In support, his wife Louise is partnering with a friend and relaunching the business under ‘John the Potter’s Flying Circus’ so it should, with that quirky name, be worth a visit.
Kleinmond has an attractive, long-standing gallery in its own Harbour Road. Run by Desiree van Zyl, it shows a good selection of professional artists as well as some art ceramicist. And there is another serious ceramist, Corinne de Haas, whose works are showcased in The Potter’s Gallery just up the road. Corinne has become well known for her contemporary crockery and several of South Africa’s top restaurants are among her clients, including Creation in Hemel-en-Aarde.
Benguela Cove Wine Estate is hosting sculptor Anton Smit’s work, looking splendid en plein air, a term usually applied to painting out of doors, but Anton’s work relishes space. Several other established artists are in the gallery itself and in the complex. Passing on, we come to Onrus, once known as an artists’ village, now alas with no functioning galleries at all after Glenda Pope closed her Mission’s House Art Gallery & Framery. Just off the intersection of Van Blommestein and Viljoen Streets is The Framery, previously owned by Marlene Oberholzer, now under new management.
East of Hermanus, Stanford has no more galleries but has recently hosted a pop-up show by seven artists, entitled ‘Broken’. The group, who got together for the Tulbagh Art Fest a month or two ago, style themselves as the Overstrand Artist Collective. I was impressed by the diversity and quality of the work which has “a deeply personal perspective whilst simultaneously addressing our greater environmental context”. I have urged the organisers to bring the exhibit to Hermanus.