Magic and memories

By Kate Crane Briggs

With autumn in Cape Town, comes rain and shine – unpredictable weather. So a great time to pop into galleries and museums. There is so much art in Cape Town – great quality, variety and accessibility.

I got a call last week, “help, client just arrived – scheduled to go up Table Mountain but bad weather, wants to buy art”. I immediately suggested Everard Read ( as they were staying at the Silo Hotel. (I’m hoping they also managed to see the fabulous El Anatsui at the Goodman ( close by on Somerset Rd.)

Often gallery’s treasures are behind the scenes. As one recent American collector commented, ‘’they keep the best art for their offices’’ – indeed one of the pieces he liked most was behind the desk of director Charles Shields – an oil of the statue of liberty, called Construction by Nigel Mullins.

The fun is often in the store-rooms; a German art buyer spotted one of Nic Bladen’s intricate botanical sculptures just about to be shipped by Everard Read (they hope to find something similar for her soon). Another German art lover, amusingly commented whilst being showed the art back of house at Stevenson “so this is your pension fund”, a few moments later the quick witted gallerist commented ‘’this is the artist’s pension fund”.

Studio visits are also gems. Always popular for our Cape Town art tours is Union House, home of the Spier Arts Trust (, just by Parliament on Commercial St. Seeing the fine art mosaics and beading in the making, is both engaging and enjoyable. Greatmore Studios ( and Side Street Studios ( in Woodstock has the same advantage of seeing different art and artists working under one roof (ditto in Joburg Bag Factory and August House).

While some artists don’t like the interruption of a quick visit, are introverts or they would prefer to keep their work under wraps until it is exhibited, many enjoy the interaction. I certainly find it exhilarating and am often tempted to buy work myself. Last week I bought as a gift, a metal angel by Uwe Pfaff ( in Salt River. Now I’m working out how to save up for a major work on paper by Lyndi Sales (, maybe a client will beat me to it!