SA's Only Antiques, Collectables And Decorative Arts Magazine
ART AT SPIER

spierFrom the farm’s public spaces to displays in the Manor House, Hotel and wine tasting centre, art is as much part of Spier as good food and fine wine. The work is rotated every year to give exposure to as many artists as possible, and to keep the spaces fresh for staff and visitors.

Rather than just buying art to decorate its buildings, Spier strives to find ways to support and stimulate the arts community in SA, supporting projects that acknowledge our African arts heritage, protect its legacy and contribute to its future. With this goal, Spier has established a number of initiatives that have greatly impacted both the performing and visual arts in South Africa since 1996.

For their sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa, Spier was awarded the Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Chairman’s Premier Award in 2014. This award is made at the discretion of the BASA Chairman, and only during years when nominees are deemed exceptional.

Visit the Spier online gallery to explore the depth and dynamism of Spier’s art programme. It covers the initiatives described below, feature stories and news of recently acquired artworks.

THE CREATIVE BLOCK PROJECT

The Creative Block invites artists, both established and emerging, to create work on a 18cm x 18cm blank block. The blocks are submitted for critique, and the best are purchased for resale to corporate patrons and the general public. Collectors then choose a number of blocks and hang them together, building an impactful, collective artwork that has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts. Because of the synergy between this process and the art of blending wine, Spier named its blended wine range after the project – the award-winning Creative Block 2, 3 and 5 wines.

The Creative Block offers artists an important revenue stream. Artists can submit blocks every month and if selected they get paid for them immediately. For many artists, this income covers their basic expenses and enables them to continue operating as full time artists. The project also gives artists the opportunity to expand their creativity and artistic territory, and gain considerable exposure by connecting with art collectors the world over.

Creative Block displays can be found at the Wine Tasting Centre, the Hotel Lobby and Eight Restaurant, and blocks are also available for sale at these locations.

THE SPIER ARTS ACADEMY
This project combines Spier’s passion for art with its commitment to social upliftment. The aim of the Academy is to provide emerging artists (the majority of which are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds) with quality training – empowering them with the necessary artistic and business skills to run their own businesses successfully after graduation.

Spier Arts Academy is South Africa’s only professional mosaic apprenticeship programme, providing students with opportunities to work on real-world projects, collaborate with specially selected artists and learn professional art practices by association.

The employment-based training encompasses a three year, full time course, the focus of which is the ancient art of mosaic. Professional mosaic artists from the Spilembergo School of Mosaic in Italy train the students in the production of architectural mosaics using a variety of materials, including locally sourced natural stone. In 2015, the academy launched an additional course in relief ceramics, with its first apprentices now in training creating striking ceramic panels.

The other modules of the course, including art theory, drawing and business classes, are offered by local teachers. To date, several artworks have been successfully produced and installed both locally and internationally.

The Dying Slave (2012) is a wonderful example of the academy’s output, and can be found on the pedestrian path between the Spier Hotel and the Conference Centre.

THE SPIER ART COLLECTION
The Spier Art Collection is one of the most extensive collections of contemporary South African art in the country. Artworks are displayed in Spier’s meticulously restored Cape Dutch buildings, meeting rooms and spaces of the Spier Hotel. Each venue, treated as an exhibition space, is dedicated to artists of both emerging and recognised talent.

The Spier Collection is curated around Spier’s focus on environmental and social responsibility. As an example of this, works created on corrugated iron from destroyed shack fires by artists such as Willie Bester, Lindile Magunya and Ernest Fulani, vividly express the devastation caused by these frequent events. Sublime works by Tamlin Blake, often produced in collaboration with the Qubeka Bead Studio, are surprisingly created from discarded trash. Such works are selected and commissioned to symbolise the potential rewards which are available to the planet as a result of effective recycling.

In addition to acquiring works from artists’ studios, galleries and auctions, the Spier Collection also regularly commissions large-scale pieces from selected artists, including Paul Emanuel’s Transitions, which was seen by 2 500 Spier visitors before it went on to be exhibited internationally.

THE ARTIST PATRONAGE PROGRAMME
The Artist Patronage Programme is designed to give intensive support over an extended period (generally a period of four to five years) to artists Spier judges to be exceptional, and who they believe could greatly benefit from the creative freedom that the programme provides. The programme aims to advance the artist’s career within the global arena, and typically includes the production of a catalogue of work, a solo exhibition and a website, in support of this aim. To date, Wim Botha, Paul Emmanuel, Tamlin Blake and Berco Wilsenach and Liza Grobler have participated.

THE SPIER PUBLIC ARTS FESTIVAL: INFECTING THE CITY (ITC)
From 1996-2007, the Spier Performing Arts Festival took place on the estate, predominantly in the amphitheatre. While the festival was very popular and effective, Spier’s mission has always been to expose as many people as possible to the arts. It was therefore decided that the festival would relocate to Cape Town’s CBD in order to make it more accessible to a wider audience. ITC is a festival of provocative, site-specific performance works, presented by the Africa Centre. It pushes the boundaries of performance and festival programming, and engages a broad spectrum of people – often those who would never consider watching a performance.

Since 2008, the Cape Town CBD has been turned into an edgy theatre venue in February/March to exhibit diverse, thought-provoking works. About half of the productions are presented free to the public. www.infectingthecity.com

SPIER FILMS
Spier Films operates in the production, world sales, financing and distribution sectors of the film industry. While part of the operation is based at Union House in Cape Town, the international sales arm is headquartered in London and represents high-quality, commercial art-house titles in international film markets. Spier has produced the groundbreaking films U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (Golden Bear winner at the 2005 Berlinale) and Son of Man (official selection Sundance Film Festival 2006). Spier’s latest film is an adaptation of Athol Fugard’s famous play Master Harold and the Boys. www.spierfilms.com

The Collector Issue 29

 

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