Arts & Culture

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10 things to do this Heritage Weekend

Whether you’re staying at home this Heritage Day long weekend or you’re heading out to explore South Africa, we’ve got some ideas of places you can visit and events you can enjoy to celebrate!

In KZN…

1. White Mountain Festival

Acoustic music in the mountains… what more could you ask for? Brought to you by the same experienced crew that produce Splashy Fen every year, White Mountain is its’ smaller, mellow cousin. Discover new local artists or support your favourites, all while indulging in the magical mountain vista. Take the family for an unforgettable experience.

2. Witness Hilton Arts Festival

Broadly considered to be KZN’s premier arts and culture festival the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festivaland produces a sterling programme of drama, comedy, music, cabaret, arts and crafts, children’s theatre, Mindscapes discussions, workshops, films and exhibitions appealing to all who visit the festival each year. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the festival.

3. Fun in the Sun

For the fourth year running over 3000 KZN electronic music lovers will once again gather on the banks of the Hazelmere Dam for a massive outdoor festival involving two days of house, dance and electronic music, Swimming, Tanning, Partying and fun times.

Gauteng

4. The Cradle Festival

Head to where it all began to celebrate in the ultimate Heritage Day place. Expect musical performances from the likes of Louise Carver, and Idol’s winner, Elvis Blue as well as the Cradle Festival Wine Weekend, which includes cheese and wine tastings, as well as loads of fun activities and competitions for the whole family to enjoy. The daily kids programme offers parents peace-of-mind and a day-off to spoil themselves and relax while being able to enjoy the live entertainment, cheeses and wines. A Craft Expo allows exhibitors from the Cradle and surrounding areas to showcase their business and service offerings. Continue reading

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Braai 4 Heritage – Bond around the fire!

Mix Heritage Day weekend combined with Braai Day and it all adds up to fun times in the sunshine surrounded by friends and family.

We created this unique Braai Day collection in celebration and support of one of our favourite holidays in the year as well as one of our favourite past-times.

Get all the info you need to follow the Braai Day revolution with our links, learn the awesome Braai Day anthem featuring Soweto Gospel Choir, HHP and Die Heuwels Fantasties.

Then use our listings to plot out all your braai requirements – from charcoal to braai equipment and venues where you can stoke your fires.

Daily Collection

Route 62 – the Great Karoo!

It’s an area of South Africa that many who live elsewhere may not even have thought of, let alone visited, but this scenic tourist route covering the Western Cape and Eastern Cape is one that could keep you good and lost from civilization for some time.

Adventure is never far away on Route 62 where you’re surrounded by a wealth of natural resources from mountains, passes, rivers to vineyards and orchards.

This collection contains just a small selection of some of the more interesting places, sights and activities you could sample on your Route 62 road trip like adventure activities, wine farms, antiques and collectables, nature reserves, animals and water sports- just enough to peak your interest in the magical Karoo…

Wildlife from behind the lens with Pangolin

Fate was clearly at work the night that intrepid wildlife photographers Toby Jermyn and Gerhard “Guts” Swanepoel met around a campfire in Phalaborwa a few years back.
Their mutual passions and frustrations with the safari experiences they were being offered eventually led them to start their own photographic safari company, Pangolin Photo Safaris.

Although Toby says a photo safari can take place in any environment – urban or natural – he and Guts set up camp in The Chobe, where they can easily show off some of Africa’s best assets to their clients.

“We are lucky in The Chobe where it’s a photographer paradise,” Toby said, “The weather is great, the light superb and with the vehicles we have, getting photographers into position is quite easy. There are times, however when the animals don’t cooperate so you have to find other subjects. Our guides have been trained to look for photographic subjects that might not be of interest to a traditional safari-goer but will thrill a wildlife photographer.”
But what makes a photo safari different from a normal safari, one may ask? According to Toby it’s about spending time with other keen photographers who will be looking for subjects to photograph, rather than just trying to see as many animals as possible.
“Traditionally there was always conflict between birders and non-birders on a game drive with people wanting to see different things. That conflict now exists between photographers and non photographers. On a photo safari you can, for example, sit in front of a troop of baboons misbehaving for a long time getting lots of great shots without someone getting frustrated that we are not moving on.”
Because Pangolin is a company set up by photographers for photographers, they understand that clients want to be put in position to get that great shot. They welcome photographers of all levels or experience and even supply state of the art digital cameras free of charge to those who have yet to make the investment in their own camera. Continue reading

I found my art space

I love art. In fact, it’s one of my personal escapes that I embark on when I’m in dire agony regarding the flaws and evils of the world. Witnessing somebody else’s masterpieces and creations gives me a great sense of euphoria and yes, I do believe there is such a thing as “good art”.

Still, I find it funny how, when an artwork is deemed as “bad art” or somewhat controversial in any manner, art critics and art lovers, even artists, are quick to to say: “no. Art is subjective”.

It’s still no excuse not to broaden horizons and tap into the greater depth of creativity.

ArtSpace is one of those galleries that don’t refrain from giving originality a shot at expressing itself by challenging the norm as well as society – the way we think, in fact! ArtSpace is one of the few galleries that contribute to changing the face of art and creativity.

When I graced this creative den and submerged myself in Uwe Pfaffs masterpieces, I felt reacquainted with the surreal – you know that surrealistic state you experience when dreaming? I felt the nonsensical make sense, the intangible traced its’ texture on the palm of my hand and that was brass and copper-plated steel that he uses to create his works.
Flower Blower caught my eye. In fact, a lot of Uwe’s works got me in that artistic space where I tilted my head and tried to discover the abstract truth and tried to dismantle it in order to understand and see what my eyes wanted to see. Continue reading

Live brings new life to Durban

Durban is often criticised for its’ seeming lack of live music venues and support of local (and international) acts. But it’s not as simple as opening venues and marketing them to the right people. Even successful venues have folded due to issues like noise complaints, licencing concerns and people who refused to pay entrance fees. Recently a new venue has appeared on the local landscape and has been getting all the right kind of buzz from the difficult Durbanites.

Live The Venue has turned the traditional idea of a nightclub/ live music venue on its’ head by creating a blank canvas dedicated to live performance of any kind – a concept that may be just the remedy for the struggling artists of Durban.

We spoke to Bronwyn Kingsland about this family business with a difference!

Safindit: Who are the people behind Live the Venue?
Bronwyn: Live The Venue is a family business owned by the Kingsland Family. They also own their own professional sound company called Kingston Sound which specialises in live performances.

S: Tell us about the inspiration behind the venue and how it came to fruition?
B: We are in fact a platform for performing arts, and each and every event that is hosted at Live The Venue has to have a live entertainment element to it. We do not believe in simply putting a few Dj’s on stage and selling shots of liquor. Our family has a passion for the live entertainment industry and this project is one very close to home for us.
Live the venue is a converted warehouse, and the entire conversion was done by family members and members of the Kingston Sound Crew. Not one single outside contractor was bought in on this job. From building decks to the installation of new toilet facilities and the sewing of over 2000m of velvet curtaining, Live The Venue certainly holds a place in the teams heart.

The inspiration came from visiting a few venues in Durban and surrounding areas for live acts, and noticing they were other too cramped and not all the clients could see the performances, or on the other extreme, the venue would have a capacity of thousands and a few hundred would drown in its bareness. It was also noted that the quality of the sound in various venues was not up to scratch, and the atmosphere was often dark and depressing.
It was then that we saw a gap in the market. We would team up with our professional crew at Kingston Sound, and partner with Slingshot Productions to put on top-class acts in a new, vibrant, modern yet not pretentious environment . There are so many great bands and artists that have superb talent that deserve a platform to perform on, that will compliment their acts. This is what we aimed to provide.

S: What makes Live the Venue unique?
B: Live is unique as it cannot be classified into specific genre of entertainment. The venue is designed to accommodate for varying performances from comedy, cabaret, and fashion shows to rock bands and product launches. We have even hosted a 25-piece swing band on our stage. We believe this will prevent Live The Venue from getting stale and customers getting bored of the same thing week in and week out. Continue reading

6 Cool Places in SA to take a Tourist

We’ve deviated from the format for the first time here because, well there are just too many awesome places to see and experience in SA. So, this week we’re giving you a Top 6 and it isn’t really a ‘top’ per se because the range of activities and places we looked at were just too broad. So, based on some feedback from our users, some research and some inter-office banter, we give you this selection of six exciting, interesting, beautiful or adventurous places in SA that we think you should always take your tourist friends.

Durban:

1. Moses Mabhida Stadium
For many Durbanites, Moses Mabhida Stadium is the landmark they feel most proud of. It’s magnificent design and monolithic structure have forever altered the skyline of the city and never fail to leave people impressed. Durban watched as the neglected stadium precinct was transformed into a beautiful and vibrant hub for the World Cup and today, it remains a reminder of that magical time when so many people fell in love with Durban and her people.

2. The Roma Revolving Restaurant
Earlier this week we reviewed this historic gem and we were reminded that it is one of only 31 revolving restaurants in the world. Not many visitors will have experienced the sensation of slowly turning while enjoying their meal and an epic view of the whole city. The Skybar on the roof alone is worth the visit. It’s a magical place to experience the city at night and watch as the ships steer in and out of the massive harbour.

Cape Town:

3. Table Mountain
Yes, it’s an obvious choice and most probably one of the reasons that they are visiting Cape Town in the first place, but there’s a reason why it was recently voted one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! There are so many different ways to experience Table Mountain too. As a climber or walker, you can get up close and personal with her slopes. For the less adventurous you can hop on the cable car and ride right up, then dine with friends in one of the most unique settings in the world.

4. Groot Constantia
As a visitor to the Cape, a winery has to be a top priority on your to-do list and this is one of the oldest wine farms in the country – not to mention a renowned historical monument and one of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture in existence. The name Constantia is linked to some of SA’s most famous wines and they continue to produce superior quality wines that are distributed all over the globe.

Johannesburg/ Soweto

5. The Apartheid Museum
It may not be the happiest place for a visitor to go to, but they’ll certainly learn a lot about the culture of the people of South Africa from this place. Haunting and fascinating, it stands as a bricks and mortar reminder that South Africans are willing to acknowledge the past rather than hide it away. As time passes the importance of this museum will only grow, with younger generations needing to be reminded of the mistakes of the past.

6. Chaf Pozi
No trip to Soweto or Jozi should be complete without a weekend visit to Chef Pozi. At the base of the now disused cooling towers of the Orlando power station, it’s one of the most unique places you could ever drink a beer. Pick you chisa nyama from the in-house butcher before you send it off to be braaied, then share your meal African-style with your mates. All the while, the music from some of the city’s hottest house DJ’s will be pumping and people will be spontaneously dancing to the rhythms. If you hear screams, its because people are leaping off the massive towers above you on the bungee swing!

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Market Master: Durban – Stalls for all Tastes!

If you’re a market-lover, you’re in for a treat in Durban. Because of the cultural diversity of the city, you’re inclined to find things you would most probably not find anywhere else in the country!

Durban is home to numerous exciting markets from the highly traditional – like the fascinating Markets of Warwick, where you’ll find the country’s largest traditional medicine market – to the trendy and sophisticated I Heart Market. Started about 3 years ago, this market has captured the hearts (scuse the punn) of Durbanites and become a popular monthly excursion for those in search of bespoke clothing & accessories, delicious home-made cuisine and unique arts and crafts.

For food-lovers Durban markets provide an exciting blend of traditional Indian and African tastes as well as the more conventional Western influences.

 

Delaire Graff is a work of art – on every level

The problem with visiting Delaire Graff on the Helshoogte pass between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is that it will ruin you completely for any other visit to the wine lands.
The location and view is breathtaking, the interior design is vibrant, uber-stylish and exciting, there are artworks upon which to feast your eyes and your soul.

The wines are delicious and the food is simply spectacular. It’s hard to write about it without sounding like a gushing teenager with a new crush, and I will probably use far too many adjectives.
They even have a diamond shop and a boutique with Italian clothing and Murano glassware, for heaven’s sake!

From the moment I arrived all I wanted to do was take photographs. The tree-lined driveway leading up to the wine tasting lounge, cellar and restaurant is populated with life-size human sculptures with outstretched arms, their faces raised to the sky. I am not really an arty person as such, but I could certainly feel the sentiment there.

The occasion was a media lunch to showcase chef Christiaan Campbell’s new menu, and the reopening of the restaurant following an intensive, month-long refurbishment of the kitchen which has introduced cutting edge culinary technology including a Josper charcoal-burning oven that delivers instant heat at extremely high temperatures. Central to the kitchen’s layout is a bespoke Charvet cooking range from France with energy-saving features.

That’s all very nice and I am sure Christiaan and his team are super excited about it. What matters to us as diners, however, is the end result. I don’t really mind how they do it, and what magic goes on behind the scenes; it’s about what is on the plate. And that, I can tell you, is superb.
We met in the elegant tasting room where a baby grand resides in the corner, and a magnificent fireplace spans almost an entire wall. Everywhere you look there are large, bold, contemporary sculptures and paintings which inspire a sense of awe, drama and beauty. Continue reading

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Fabulous Franschoek – Food & Wine Heaven!

Just 45 minutes outside of Cape Town, you will find a magnificent haven of beauty and tranquility where food and wine lovers flock to sample some of the best that South Africa has to offer.

The fertile grounds of Franschoek have nurtured more than just top quality vines. Some of the country’s top chefs have sharpened their skills in the kitchens of this winelands paradise and many continue to dazzle local and international visitors with their talents.

But Franschoek isn’t just for foodies. The scenery is so picturesque and the atmosphere so peaceful, it’s the perfect place to escape city life and enjoy some fresh air, outdoor activities and even a spot of shopping!

This is just a small collection of some Franschoek gems that we hope to expand on in the near future! If you have any favourite Franschoek haunts, we would love to add them!

No gold stars for Mark Gold’s mobisite

Depending on your taste in jewellery, you may or may not have heard of Mark Gold. Originally from Durban, this designer of unique, bespoke creations has expanded into Joburg and the Cape, where his stores are equally famous for their top quality coffee as they are for distinctive jewellery.

As a major fan of Mark Gold’s work, I tried not to let this influence me in my review of their mobisite.
I’ve encountered thei website before and although I found it to be visually engaging (complete with Ibiza-style background mood music) and representative of their style, I felt it used far too much Flash animation. Anyone who spends a significant amount of time online attempting to extract usable information, will tell you that Flash is the devil. Luckily it’s on its’ way out, but that didn’t stop the creators of this mobisite from incorporating it into their design.

As I’ve reiterated many times in the past, a good mobisite needs to be slick, attractive and simple. While the Mark Gold mobisite attempts to be all these things, I feel it just falls short of realizing that goal. Having flash images on a mobisite is ok if you have a decent smartphone and data connection, but if not, you’re probably going to find that, at worst they don’t show up at all and at best they creep across the page like stunned insects.

In essence the mobisite is a smaller version of the main site. It has the same information and images (no music!) but the layout doesn’t really make sense to me. There is a ‘Mark Gold’ menu that gives you more insight into the brand, a ‘Jewels’ menu and a ‘Timepieces’ menu. Unlike the main site, they haven’t created separate pages for each style of jewels, which led me to completely miss a whole section of information- you’ll need to keep scrolling. I just felt that, for such unique & glamorous products, they deserved to each enjoy their own space to be admired, rather than being lumped together. These are the Mark Gold signature pieces, yet they don’t seem to take pride of place? On the main site, each range has a large picture and description that ultimately sold me on the product without even seeing the real thing. That is what needs to be transferred in a mobile platform.

I headed to the Gallery area in hopes of finding a decent sized image of some of my more favourite pieces, but just found more Flash. Although these are the same images used on the main site, they don’t have the same impact on a small screen. It would have been worthwhile to simply have a few good pics of each range.The Gallery page also has a ‘Press’ area which links to nowhere and it seems its only purpose was to fill the space.

I also noted that nowhere on the mobisite was there any mention of their coffee shops, for which they are so loved.

I feel that a bit more thought could have gone into the design of this mobisite. Perhaps it was simply created to make sure that mobile users could find the stores and access details on the move, but I believe luxury brands should always put that little bit of extra attention into things like this because their market appreciates the personal touches.

6/10

Loving the Main Vibe…

Looking at its success and current state now, I find it a tad bit hard to believe that Arts on Main (the inception of the Maboneng Precinct) is a product of a rundown, shabby building discovered in an industrial wasteland in the Eastside of Johannesburg. Indeed, it is a diamond in the rough, yet its atmosphere is nothing less than priceless.

Maboneng- “A place of light”, is exactly that. Arts on Main spoke to me. I couldn’t resist the atmosphere, the people, the art, the food and the music (but mainly the art). The people are laid-back. It’s as though a swarm of artists flew in and passively formed the epitome of relaxation.

The symphonic melodies of salsa graced the atmosphere, as though the music was manifesting itself in the midst of all the fun and serenity. I was tempted to go on the roof top and join the others in swaying my hips to the melody, however, the competition was tight. I couldn’t compete with the tempo and all that sexiness.

In great company in a space where one can’t help but be drawn to creativity, I acquainted myself with the galleries. However the David Krut Projects personally whispered in my ear and lured me into its creative den. I’m a huge William Kentridge fan and having to personally view and analyze his artworks was nothing but an honor.

While on my path of insane excitement, I stumbled upon an artist called Maja Maljević, whose somewhat abstract artworks got us tilting our heads, debating about what was being portrayed in her work. What looked like a piano to one looked like fingers to the other.

This gallery has had exhibitions not only by William Kentridge but, prominent artists like Diane Victor, (also one of my favourites) Deborah Bell, Mary Wafer, Mischa Fritsch, Julian Opie, Chris Ofili and many, many more. David Krut is not only an art gallery, however, it’s also a print room and bookstore.

As for the food, the stalls can really give one a tough time in selecting what to indulge in, however there’s enough food to go around for all different kinds of tastebuds. I couldn’t resist the beef sandwich that Something Fresh had to offer. Continue reading

Simply Living with Art

So many people would love the privilege of making a living from creating art. For Heather Wessels, this has become her daily reality.

After completing a diploma in textile design, Heather spent years working for others before she chose to go out on her own, starting Simply Art & Decor. Though she admits it hasn’t been easy going, she says the step was definitely worth it.

Today, the Durban-based artist creates unique contemporary pieces for homes and businesses.
“My art sells to all walks of life,” she said, “When it comes to creating artworks for individuals, it’s a wonderful time to explore with different mediums, colours and the usage of different tools and paints. It’s an opportunity to produce art that is unique to the individual, creating something magnificent in colour and design.”
It’s not always an exercise in freedom of expression though. Some clients are looking for something more specific.
“The clients will go through my website. If they like something I will do it for them, but it will be slightly different. Some customers allow you to have carte blanche, others don’t. When working with decorators you are very restricted.”

Heather’s journey into commercial art began with her creating Murals on walls and paint techniques on walls and furniture, but it all changed in 2005 when a friend asked her to do a huge contemporary piece. She took up the challenge and never looked back, gaining inspiration from the world around her. Continue reading

Opening up the Studio Doors

There’s a chance you might wander past Openroom Productions only to spot your favourite band getting ready to lay down some tracks.

Previously based at the SABC studios, Openroom Productions made the move to an unique venue in Greenside about a year ago, creating a space where musicians and fans alike can experience the recording process.

Headed up by Darryl Torr, who has a string of accolades and awards to his name and has recorded some of the biggest names in the industry, Openroom has defied the odds in a world where traditional studios are no longer the norm.

We chatted to Darryl about his new space and the business of making it in 2012.

Safindit: Openroom Productions has evolved to become much more than a simple recording studio. Can you tell us a bit about the different aspects of Openroom Productions?
Darryl: We believe all things audio are relative and should be of the highest quality, from TV to radio including live broadcasts at different venues.

S: What did you have in mind when you decided to relocate to Greenside to a really visual space?
D: We really wanted a public friendly space that would bring something different to the way people see recording and the audio world.

S: What kind of experience did you hope to give artists in this space?
D: One that was more creative in an environment that allowed for it. Continue reading