The Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park was a place unknown to me until it was mentioned in passing a few months ago. For any who have not heard of it, perhaps you will recall its former self- The Rainbow Trout Farm. If you know neither of them then join me on a magical exploration of this transformed property.
Nirox has come a long way from the old fishing farm it once was and I was lucky enough to be able to attend a sculpture fair at this mystical location.
My boyfriend who had been to the fishing farm in its prime, informed me that a large amount of groundwork had to have occurred as it was all once a flat piece of land dotted with circular fishing dams. Now the various bodies of water are ragged and unevenly shaped and the land rises up and down in stunning knolls and dips upon which the grass is mown in concentric circles. It feels reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland which is why I suspect this particular artwork was situated on the peak.
I liked this quirky little piece
Little sculptures on the bank of the reformed river
They mow the lawn in patterns
Open only for specific events and concerts a few times a year as well as special wedding bookings; the sculpture park has been an enigma to me from the moment I heard of its existence. Unable to immediately explore it, the mystery grew and it was only at the launch of the Winter Sculpture Fair, that I was finally able to quell all of my questions and explore this wonderful space in person.
The name was no misnomer for a cold front came in and it rained on both days of the park’s opening. It’s like ra-aain on your wedding day kind of vibe, but we bundled up super warm in thick coats, hats and boots and set out to view some art!
Bundled up nice and warm
The Winter Sculpture Fair is an annual affair in its third year which was formed by the Nirox Foundation. It allows for six South African universities to express their own interpretations and insight on six subjects which are then addressed by over 50 alumni artists. In particular, these candidates experienced their adulthood post Apartheid and have created artwork influenced by a time that was full of hope, promise and many challenges.
Students from Pretoria, TUT, UJ, WITS, UCT and Unisa all came together to create various pieces as per their designated exhibition titles and displayed their stunning creations over the weekend of the 13th of May 2017.
I was not aware of just how much of an outing the Nirox exhibition is. We even called in just to double check that they were open because it was a fair distance to drive out in such bad weather. Little did we know that it would be full of people coming to view art, drink wine and have a good time, irrespective of the weather condition.
The fair was surprisingly full
We squelched our way to the front, scanned our electronic tickets and were given lovely blue wristbands with which we made our way inside.
One of the first artworks I discovered turned out to be a permanent exhibition left behind by a previous resident. I encountered a number of stunning pieces which all took my breath away, unfortunately I do not know the names of the creators as the Nirox exhibition app was for IOS only and not android but I still had a great time nonetheless trying to figure out my little paper map instead.
The blue bracelet of entry
The day was nicely rounded off by the wonderful taste exhibitors who had traveled all the way from Franschoek. The marquee was bursting with people eating good food and drinking great wine. I don’t think there is much that can beat the fact that we could literally buy a bottle and walk around while tasting different foods and if we wished, to even visit the sculptures with a glass of wine in hand.
We opted for a brut sparkling wine named Miss Molly Bubbly which comes from the amazing Moreson family winery. It went down all too well on that chilly and rainy day. Their boutique wines savour strongly of passion and hard work as well as a citrus nose of course. Each sip convinced me that I needed another bottle to continue the pleasurable journey I had embarked on. The best part is how affordable their wines are for such impeccable flavours. If you wish to buy wines you can do so by visiting their website on https://www.moreson.co.za/
A tasty bottle of Miss Molly Bubbly
For food we opted for the hoison pork ribs from Cafe Des Arts which I can hands down say are literally the best ribs I have ever had in my life. Slow cooked for six hours, the meat literally fell off the bone and into my open maw. If you are ever in Franshoek I would recommend popping in for some delightful treats as I will be doing the same. View their website http://www.cafedesarts.co.za/
Their lovely little restaurant consists of only ten or so items on a chalk board menu which means that every single meal is lovingly hand-crafted and that kind of attention is palpable. The food is mind-blowing and wholesome and my partner even went back for a second round.
Delicious ribs from Cafe Des Arts
The day was over all too soon and finally we headed back home for dry clothes. It would be great to view the park in picnic weather but I must say, even on that dreary day, I was not disappointed. I will be keeping a beady eye on the website for the next event because it truly was an enjoyable affair worth a second visit.
The last few art pieces were quite eerie
This piece reminded me of the book Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
The creepy house that had no windows or doors
The collection of wood that was very 'Blair Witch' reminiscent
Some info on Nirox
Situated out in the Cradle of Humankind The Nirox Foundation Trust is a non-profit trust that was established with the aim of aiding artists and promoting art. Residency is offered along with workshops and studios and of course the sculpture park which can also be use as an outdoor concert venue and for weddings. The 15 hectares of open landscape and waterways was a joy to explore. Incredibly enough, this land also serves as a nature reserve with various rescued wild animals having been released there. Nothing too dangerous, though it would have made it more like Jurassic Park had there been wild carnivores on the loose.
Artists in residence are required to leave an artwork on the property for the Nirox, comprising the Nirox Foundation’s collection. These are the permanent artworks with Nirox is proudly growing. Various other options and collections are available as Nirox is made of far more than meets the eye, when the eye is allowed inside of course.
Nirox aims to work as a platform wherein local and international artists can take up residency, with focus on work that is relevant, challenging and uplifting.
Nirox also focuses a lot on South Africa’s tumultuous social history and the changes that it brought about making for a large variety in subject matter and expression.
Providing free board with accommodation and studio facilities, it is only up to the artists to provide travel and production costs for themselves. The foundation assists in efforts to obtain various sponsorships that would be beneficial to the residing artists.
Keep an eye on the Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park website for any upcoming events because you certainly don’t want to miss them. http://niroxarts.com/