The Bijou Press – an iconic studio space opens its doors to Artroute

By Richard Kilpert and Talita Swarts

This winter sees the classic Observatory location, home to Conrad Hicks’s foundry, extend its reach with the addition of an inspiring studio space on the third floor.

Talita has moved her family printing presses in and, along with Richard, will be offering art classes and demos for the public. The large-volume space with floor-to ceiling windows is ideal for exploring new mediums and getting in touch with your inner artist. Initially there will be drawing and printmaking opportunities, with the emphasis on experimentation and expressive techniques. Richard sees printmaking as a great way to trick oneself into making original images, and also to extend the vocabulary of markmaking and imagery through monoprint and relief methods.

The space is ideal for inspiring events, and we have already hosted two making sessions in the space as we seek to establish it as a regular hub for the art community of Cape town. We cannot wait to see how this space will come to its full glory. Watch this space!

The chance to create art on the foundations laid by the art legend – Tinus de Jong

The Bijou Press have now 4 printing presses in the studio – our newest edition the printer that Tinus de Jongh used for his amazing printing works of art.

Tinus and his family emigrated to South Africa from the Netherlands after the first World War in 1921. After they settled in Fish Hoek, he spent a lot of time painting landscapes around the Cape Peninsula (Weckesser 2013:41).

With regards to de Jongh’s process, it is interesting to note that he primarily painted from nature. He had a gift for memory retention and precise powers of observation. According to Weckesser (2013:25) “needing only a brief study of a scene to enable him to store it in his memory, in exact detail and colour.” The artist would use a memorandum in the form of a pencil or charcoal or water colour sketch that illustrated the areas of tonality as well as the necessary colour scheme for him to be able to recreate the scene in his studio when completing his masterpieces. Tinus produced an etching series of 80 different scenes, mainly places around Cape Town from 1922 until 1939. These prints were made in the evenings after a full day of painting. The idea was to make something more affordable that could bring in much needed funds to allow him to continue painting the beautiful landscapes he adored (Weckesser 2013:91-92). He died in Bloemfontein on 17 July 1942 at the age of 57 years from lung cancer, having become one of the most technically skilled and popular painters in South Africa.

Source: Weckesser, P. 2013. Tinus de Jong. His life and works. Johannesburg: Ultra Litho (Pty) Limited.