Stellenbosch Triennale: a first for African art

The Stellenbosch Triennale featuring the finest contemporary art from Africa is creating quite a buzz. The series of exhibitions and performance art in and around Stellenbosch showcases major works by both established and rising talents. The Triennale also incorporates a film, music, talks and educational programme.


  • Curators’ Exhibition is situated at a major entrance to the town, featuring 20 artists from various countries on the African continent. The artists interpret the 2020 theme Tomorrow there will be more of us through multi-disciplinary art installations, both indoors and outdoors.
  • On the Cusp features artworks by 10 young African artists. On the Cusp is about revealing and unravelling the creative talents of tomorrow. Focused on graduating visual art students and young art practitioners who have pushed their creative boundaries and sit on the cusp of beauty and magic through their aesthetic, conceptual, critical, material choice, form or installation methods.
  • From the Vault contextualizes contemporary society and culture through the archives of buried museum collections. The exhibition represents a critical engagement with time by browsing through historical acquisitions, examining their significance as fragments of the past and showing how museum vaults can be a compass for the future. This inaugural exhibition examines the university art collections from Stellenbosch University and the University of Fort Hare.
  • Die Braak Pavilion is a fusion between the disciplines of public art, sculpture and architecture. By providing only the armature as defined structure the pavilion encourages the community to participate in its filling in, so it will “grow” throughout the Triennale. Waste materials such as discarded fishing nets, ropes, plastic bags and nylon packaging will be woven and knotted as infill material, communicating the value of waste and the future of a waste economy. An afterlife for the pavilion is envisaged: as a playground for a crèche or a shading device for local crafters. Conversations around everyday materials and their afterlives are integral to the message the pavilion portrays.
  • Concepts of Freedom Film Festival consists of a group video art installation is on exhibition upstairs at 118 Dorp Street throughout the Triennale, with the film festival taking place from Wednesday, 4th March through to Saturday 7th March 2020 at Pulp Cinema.
  • African Ad: Analog + Digital – Music is an exploration of African sounds and dancing as a constant connection and conversation with the cosmos. African AD thus explores the congregation of sounds and vibrations that permeate Africa by inviting artists, musicians, DJ’s to search the archives and put into composition their encounters and experiences via this platform.
  • Creative Dialogues Talks Programme engages the diversity of South Africa, the continent and global art sector through short, powerful panel discussions, talk about and seminars. By extending the conversation with professionals in other fields, the Talks Programme brings together interesting and exciting insight into the topics underlined by the Triennale.
  • The Imaginarium is a supplementary, online, open-source (free) discovery and learning resource centre for all ages. The portal has been designed to stimulate imagination and support 21st-century learning skills. Using the Triennale as context and reference, the 8Cs of learning – Curiosity, Creativity, Criticism, Communication, Collaboration, Compassion, Composure, Citizenship – will be stimulated and explored. For online reference, school tours and workshops go to www.stellenboschtriennale.com.

Locations and viewing times


The Stellenbosch Triennale is the brainchild of the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust and its years of experience in enacting public art exhibitions in Stellenbosch. The Triennale takes public art in Stellenbosch to new heights in terms of its international reach, the scope and variety of the art to be showcased as well as it’s the intention to place creativity in critical dialogue with society. The Triennale marks an intentional and purposeful attempt to use creativity, imagination and public space as a meeting point in engaging with the collective and distinctive milieu of our past, present and future existence and all its complexities- a place where we imagine futures.

Stellenbosch Visio editor France Beyers, Triennale curator Kanyisile Mbongwa and SOST trustee Andi Norton.

The SOST has been bringing annual public art exhibitions to Stellenbosch since 2012. More than 150 works of outdoor art have been placed around the town for everyone to enjoy; over 80 artists have participated and over 3000 school children have engaged with the art on learning excursions. The Trust believes the time is right to take public art in Stellenbosch to the next level, joining cities around the world in hosting what is considered the pinnacle of art exhibitions – a biennale or in this case, a Triennale.

Triennale is Italian for every third year and Biennale for every second year. The terms Triennale and Biennale are most commonly used in the art world to describe large-scale international contemporary art exhibitions. These events are considered to showcase the very best artworks from the particular countries in which they are hosted, with emphasis on new talent. They are not commercial exhibitions, which differentiates them from art fairs or selling exhibitions, and they have a particular emphasis on arts education and academic research. Stellenbosch will host a Triennale as it will take about three years between events to curate the quality of work that the event will showcase.” says Andi Norton.

Hosting a Triennale in Stellenbosch will showcase the town as an arts centre on the global stage. The Triennale is partnering with all other stakeholders in the local arts and culture ecosystem – Cape Town Art Fair, Norval Foundation, Zeitz MOCAA, Woordfees, just to name a few. This collaboration will create a world-class arts destination and a very appealing reason for anyone to get on a plane and visit this part of the world. The SOST is committed to ensuring that the Triennale benefits the entire Stellenbosch community.

The Stellenbosch Triennale will showcase artwork from Africa and the African diaspora, including local artists selected by the chief curator, Khanyisile Mbongwa, and her curatorial team. An exciting part of the programme will be working from exceptional graduating artists from universities across the country and the continent.

For more on the Stellenbosch Triennale visit their official website by clicking here.