Art works like a charm at new mu­seum

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● For­get a jet or a pri­vate is­land — these days the ul­ti­mate sign of suc­cess is a mu­seum bear­ing your name.

And so last Fri­day evening found me join­ing Cape Town’s glit­terati for the pre­view gar­den party of prop­erty mag­nate Louis Nor­val’s shiny new cen­tre for art, which in­cludes a re­search li­brary, res­tau­rant and sculp­ture gar­den.

This comes on the heels of that other ci­tadel to con­tem­po­rary African art, Zeitz MOCAA, but while Ger­man en­tre­pre­neur Jochen Zeitz’s col­lec­tion is housed in a re­pur­posed silo, in this case the ac­qui­si­tions are dis­played not only in a build­ing with a wing-like roof, but also in a gar­den set in a re­ha­bil­i­tated wet­land.

With a choir wel­com­ing us as we ar­rive, I head in­side the venue in Steen­berg, half an hour out­side the city, where I am greeted by Elana Brun­dyn, di­rec­tor of the Nor­val Foun­da­tion.

She whisks me through a stir­ring im­mer­sive in­stal­la­tion by Serge Alain Nitegeka be­fore we make our way to the ter­race and I walk through the gar­den, pep­pered with strik­ing pieces like Vic­tor Ehikhamenor’s enamel paint and steel work Isima­gado (The Un­know­able).

On a bridge near her in­stal­la­tion I meet stat­uesque artist Nandipha Mn­tambo, who has just brought out a scent with per­fumer Tammy Frazer in­trigu­ingly called Dis­so­nance.

Nearby is an­other artist, Brett Mur­ray, and we chat, not about his con­tro­ver­sial The Spear work but the pop­u­lar­ity of his light fit­tings, which he cre­ated back when he was “a strug­gling artist who needed to make a liv­ing”.

Some­one with more re­cent money wor­ries is Caro Wiese, wife of re­tail mogul Christo whose Stein­hoff mis­for­tune has shrunk his for­tune by about 80%.

Is there still money for art, I ask the art col­lec­tor.

“There al­ways is,” she smiles. “And even if you can’t buy it, art still re­mains so en­rich­ing.”

The night is filled with per­for­mances to com­ple­ment the art, but it is the food that thrills my senses. My favourite was the quail eggs in kataifi nests with kim­chi dust, hung from a tree in­side the Skotnes res­tau­rant.

The sculp­ture gar­den proved to be a hit with guests at the Nor­val Foun­da­tion open­ing party in Steen­berg, Cape Town. This strik­ing piece is by Vic­tor Ehikhamenor.

Left, Fran­cois Pien­aar and his wife, Ner­ine Win­ter, with Louis Nor­val. Right, artists Brett Mur­ray and Nandipha Mn­tambo at the open­ing.

Mem­bers of the In­doni Dance, Arts & Lead­er­ship Academy per­form in the sculp­ture gar­den, in front of a Brett Mur­ray bronze called ‘ Again, Again’.

Er­rol Arendz and Caro Wiese.

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