The first Winter Sculpture Fair presented by MasterCard took place over the weekend. The event offered visitors a new kind of experience – we’ve had food and wine, we’ve had art shows, we’ve even had food, wine and design– but an event with sculpture as its key focus is a first in South Africa. Internationally, sculpture as an arts medium is attracting more attention, with the likes of the Frieze Sculpture Park in New York now a prominent event on the arts calendar.
Unlike other disciplines of art, sculpture is tactile, three-dimensional, and often site-specific. The Winter Sculpture Fair provided visitors the chance to interact with art works in a way quite unlike a regular gallery setting. The picturesque Nirox Foundation in the Cradle of Humankind was the setting for the sculpture park, with the works dotted around the rolling lawns and meandering waterways. Visitors could wander through the larger-than-life sculptures, touching and interacting with them (even climbing on them – Richard Forbes’s giant Vortex I became a jungle-gym by mid afternoon).
Each work attracted a passing crowed, with firm favourites being Angus Taylor’s bloated bronze figure Disproportions of Inflation, Artist I and Gordon Froud’s neon orange Cone Virus. Other popular pieces were Frank van Reenen’s Sleeping Dog II and Beth Armstrong’s very climbable Surface Weight, which proved irresistible to children. Almost every visitor had a camera hanging from their neck, and avidly photographed the works, the scenery and their friends and family. The spectacular setting, coupled with the accompanying fair, brought the sculptures to life for the day.
The partnership with Fraschhoek provided the perfect accompaniment to the event. Everyone knows that it’s best to admire art with a glass of wine in hand, and if you’re doing so in one of the most beautiful private residences in Gauteng, why not have a glass of the Cape’s finest blend? All the region’s best vignerons and restaurants were present, offering visitors a literal taste of the famous Franschhoek Valley.
By mid afternoon, all the picnic blankets that were scattered around the grounds were occupied by groups of people relaxing and enjoying the day out in the Cradle. By this time most wines had also sold out, as well as cheese and other tasty snacks – a sign of success. A ‘Library’ retail space was also part of the event, but felt a little like an afterthought to the food, wine and sculpture.