Talk of the Town

Stellenbosch is gearing up for one of the biggest art events in its history, KWV smashes records with it’s Centenary edition and Cape Talk’s Pay It Forward campaign enriches lives. Danie Keet brings us the biggest stories from the region.

Stellenbosch to host Triennale in 2020
Triennale curator Khanyisile Mbongwa (left) with Nkwena Baloyi (right) Rochelle Nembhard (middle).

One of the greatest art events in the history of Stellenbosch will be held from February to April 2020. The Stellenbosch Art Triennial is the brainchild of the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust (SOST), which has established many outdoor artworks and sculptures in the town over the past few years. According to Andi Norton of SOST, the trust annually brought public art exhibitions to Stellenbosch since 2012.

“The trust believes the time is now right to take public art in Stellenbosch to the next level and to join cities around the world through what is widely regarded as the culmination of art exhibitions – to host a Bienniale or Triennale.” Norton explains the purpose of such an art exhibition is “largely to display the best artworks from specific countries, with the emphasis on new and emerging artists.

“Triennial or biennial in Italian means two or three-yearly and in the art world it describes large-scale international contemporary artworks. We plan to have this exhibition every three years in Stellenbosch because it will take about as long to get quality work together for the Triennale. It is also the only one in sub-Saharan Africa. ”

The launch of the Triennale was set against the vivid backdrop of Ugandan textile artist Hellen Nabukenya’s latest work KAWUUWO which is set to feature as part of next year’s collection.

Chief curator Khanyisile Mbongwa says the Stellenbosch Triennale will exhibit artworks from Africa and the African diaspora by local artists chosen by her and her team. The Stellenbosch Triennale will also focus on works by graduate students from universities in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. “The programs will focus on visual arts, but there will also be films, performances and music programs. The educational program will focus on creativity and critical thinking for all ages.”

Breathtaking performance art titled “We Closed Our Eyes and Prayed” by Smangaliso Khumalo was part of the evening’s launch.

Norton believes the Triennale will put Stellenbosch on the global map as a center for the arts. “The Triennale creates partnerships with all the other role players in the local arts and cultural world – the Cape Town Arts Festival, the Norval Foundation, Zeitz MOCAA, the Woordfees and many more. “This collaboration will create a world-class art destination and a very tempting reason for anyone to get on a plane to visit this part of the world.

Viticulturist honoured with prestigious 1659 medal of honour

The viticulturist Prof Piet Goussard was honoured with the iconic 1659 medal of honour on Thursday 7 February 2019 at the annual Wine Harvest Commemorative Event at the historic Groot Constantia Estate.

According to Dr Ernest Messina, Chairperson of Groot Constantia, the medal has been awarded to significant role-players in the industry since 1974, but it is the first time a viticulturist is honoured.

“Prof Goussard has played a major role in training, research and technology transfer in viticulture throughout his career and is a recognized expert in several important aspects of viticulture,” Dr Messina says. “His significant career achievements are testament to a professional life dedicated to the advancement of viticulture as a discipline and the South African grape and wine industries in general.”

Prof Goussard hails from Prieska and later Agter-Paarl where he was introduced to the world of table and wine grape farming during school holidays. He joined the Department of Viticulture and Oenology (DVO) at Stellenbosch University as a student in 1965 and ended his career as Professor in Viticulture in 2010. He served as Head of Department for 14 years.

His research outputs are well-recognized and still used today in the nursery industries. He has published 70 scientific and popular articles and received several awards, such as the South African Society for Enology and Viticulture’s (SASEV) prestigious Medal of Merit in 2001. He also was the editor of the flagship journal of the Society, the South African Journal of Enology and Viticulture for 15 years. Known as a ‘walking viticulture encyclopedia’, Prof Goussard published three books in the last eight years, combining his extensive viticulture knowledge and his passion for photography.

Safety tips for Stellenbosch newcomers

The new academic year is in full swing and with more than 5 000 new first-year students that set foot in Stellenbosch last month, there is always a concern that crime could increase. There are however certain things students and especially first-year students can do to decrease the risks. Nathalie Martin, Stellenbosch Police spokesperson, gives the following important safety tips for students.

Vehicle safety: While driving, parking and entering or exiting your residence.

  • Always keep the doors of your vehicle locked.
  • Keep your windows closed or only a few millimetres open.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers. Be vigilant at stop streets, traffic lights and intersections.
  • Be familiar with alternative routes.
  • Be extra vigilant in underground parking areas and have your car key in your hand before leaving any shopping mall or other place.
  • Never drink and drive, the police have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
  • If you are being followed or harassed by another vehicle, drive to the nearest police station.
  • Always lock valuables, handbags and other parcels in the boot of your vehicle. This will eliminate smash and grab crimes.
First hospitality class graduates

The date 11 February 2019 will forever mark a momentous day for the Franschhoek Hospitality Academy (PBO).

Not only is it a historically significant day for South Africa, with the anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela, it is also the day the students of their first programme, the Class of 2018, took to the stage at Franschhoek Cellar, to graduate from their 1-year hospitality training programme which started in January 2018.

Change4Twenty is what this NGO skills development and youth upliftment programme has become known as in Franschhoek and the surrounding communities. The course started with 20 historically disadvantaged students selected from the local communities. They were given 8 months of in-classroom learning followed by a 4 month internship at local establishments. The programme ended with 16 confident students who have all graduated and found employment or gone on to further their studies. The students went on to hand over the “Academy Baton” to the new Class of 2019 (Change4Twenty1), leaving them feeling inspired and motivated for the challenging year that lies ahead for them.

Book marries art with science

An array of ideas were shared between intellectuals, futurists, artists and authors at the Stellenbosch University Museum’s Forward book launch.

The publication augments the Forward? Forward! Forward… art exhibition, which opened at the Stellenbosch University Museum late last year as part of the University’s centenary programme. The book features artworks from the exhibition and essays by prominent futurists from South Africa and beyond.

Following an open call for artworks addressing the future of higher education at Stellenbosch University and on the rest of the African continent, works by more than 60 established and emerging artists were selected for the exhibition.

The artworks in the book are complemented by a range of futurists’ essays, under the direction of Dr Morné Mostert (the director of SU’s Institute for Futures Research), commenting on what the future might hold for higher education and Stellenbosch University.

Dr Njeri Mwagiru, a senior futurist from the Institute for Futures Research, said the approach in the book is an important one. Mwagiru, who was one of the contributing authors, said they were given a brief that they should focus 20% of their essays on the past, 30% on the present and 50% on the future. “It was amazing to see when the publication was concluded how the art pieces were linked with our conclusions.”

Visual pioneer and artist takes S’bosch

The month of January saw Stellenbosch play host to the international artist and visual activist SaySay.Love’s groundbreaking exhibition entitled Intimate Loneliness: Sex with things at GUS Gallery. To make it even more memorable, the artist collaborated with South Africa’s very own Dr Eve, infamous sexologist and couple’s sex therapist, to bring a unique, one-of-a-kind live art installation to Stellenbosch audiences on 30 January. The event brought people from all walks of life together to delve into issues of loneliness and alienation.

This was a first for South African art audiences and a great honour for Stellenbosch to be chosen for this groundbreaking event.

The GUS gallery also hosted an Engtanz event. Engtanz is currently trending in what is widely understood to be the trendiest city in the world, Berlin. It is a “close dance” party and DJs spin romantic music while lovers get closer and dance the night away. This again goes to show the unique take on intimacy brought to audiences by the visionary artist.

Intimate Loneliness: Sex with things showcases work the artist refers to as “fake perfection”, aimed at bringing attention to effects of the digital age, which is alienating us from each other. We are becoming like mannequins, seemingly living perfect lives through our social media channels, though never showing our true selves and therefore becoming lonelier.

The month of February will once again see SaySay.Love challenging our perceptions and this time the show is aimed at going even deeper showcasing his latest body of work, entitled “Skin Deep”. He will be joined by recent Michaelis graduate Aniek Nieuwenhuis, in herself testament to the fact that there is so much more meaning related to beauty than what is visible to the eye.

Would you buy, and then drink, this brandy?

A rare bottle of South African brandy has sold for R100 000, smashing records and establishing an important milestone for the iconic, home-grown category.

The sale to an unnamed buyer was for a bottle of KWV The Centenary, a rare bottling specially blended and released to mark KWV’s 100-year anniversary.

“This is a wonderful achievement that dramatically raises the bar for all producers, simultaneously re-affirming the status of South African Brandy,” says South African Brandy Foundation director Christelle Reade-Jahn.

Only 100 bottles of KWV The Centenary blend have been produced and every sale will see R20 000 donated to a bursary fund for students of viti- and viniculture.

Overseen by master distiller Pieter de Bod, The Centenary includes some of the very first brandy made by KWV back in 1926. It contains brandy from the only barrel rescued from a fire that raised KWV’s historic cellars in 1942, with the balance completed with KWV’s rarest brandies.

Many of these brandies had their origin in what is today the House of Fire, a premier exhibition of the art of brandy-making that is located at KWV in Paarl.

Pay it Forward gives 21 bikes for students

On Thursday 31 January, The Franschhoek Hospitality Academy students were given an amazing gift that will change their lives in so many ways.

After striking it lucky by winning a competition on Cape Talk radio just before his birthday, Gordon Laing, one of the Pedal Power Associations (PPA) exco members, decided to use his prize together with money raised by getting his friends to donate to Bike4All instead of buying him presents to donate 10 Bike4All bicycles.

Towards the end of 2018, Claus Peter Jakobsen, owner of Scandinavian Brand House, heard about the Pay it Forward Campaign on Cape Talk Radio and contacted Bike4All immediately, as he thought that it is a great initiative and wanted to donate 10 bicycles to deserving recipients in the Western Cape. These 10 recipients were lucky enough to be 10 of the students from the Franschhoek Hospitality Academy’s Class of 2019. Upon hearing that there were 21 students in the class, the Bike4All joint initiative together with PPA decided to match the contribution from Claus and sponsored a further 11 bicycles to their students!

All the students also received a safety briefing, helmets, safety vests, locks and chains to ensure their safety at all times. Some of the students even received cycling lessons on the day.