South Africa has such a vibrant mix of cultures and people that Archbishop Desmond Tutu aptly described his country as the ‘rainbow nation’. This cosmopolitan personality is reflected in the country’s wealth of art stretching back from 10,000-year old rock paintings right up 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, its history, her people and their hopes.
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.
Iziko South African National Gallery
This famous gallery in Cape Town's tree-filled Company Gardens displays a collection of South African, Africa, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art. The collection changes regularly ensuring a full program of exhibitions including paintings, fine art, photography, sculpture, bead work, textiles and architecture. Look out for the famous work by Jane Alexander, ‘Butcher Boys.’
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 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.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MoCAA)
The Zeitz MoCAA is set to open towards the end of this year. Designed as the centrepiece in the historic Grain Silo at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, this first-of-its-kind exhibition space is set to span over nine floors, and will be exhibit top installations and works by leading artists such as Marlene Dumas, Nandipha Mntambo and Kudzanai Chiurai.
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 Laurence Graff. Worth noting in particular is Vladimir Tretchikoff’s iconic 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 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 funky precinct of reclaimed warehouses in downtown Johannesburg now houses the studios of numerous designers and artists. 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.
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.