August Art Month at Welgemeend coming to a close this week.

Celebrates the geography, essence and history of the Western Cape

By Ntokozo Maseko

The 2023 edition of August Art Month at Welgemeend is winding down this week after delivering a month long winter culture calendar in Cape Town. A collaboration between art collectors and philanthropists Frank and Lizelle Kilbourn, the volunteer group Friends of Welgemeend, auction house Strauss & Co and premium winemaker Delaire Graff Estate are behind this year’s tenth edition of August Art Month at Welgemeend takes as its theme the geography, essential characteristics and history of the Western Cape.

Anchored by an exhibition of paintings and sculptures, Cape Moments/ Kaapse Oomblikke features a wide-ranging selection of historical and contemporary art about the Cape that has been acquired over many years by the Kilbourn family and invited co-collectors. As is tradition, the extensive social, educational and hospitality programme for 2023 August Art Month at Welgemeend has reflected the themes of this art exhibition. 

“Twenty-one years ago, Lizelle and I relocated with our children from Johannesburg to Cape Town,” says Frank Kilbourn, businessman and chairperson of Strauss & Co. “Cape Town is much smaller and more intimate than Johannesburg and our relationships with several dealers, gallerists and auction houses allowed us to be exposed to, meet and befriend an exciting variety of Cape-based artists. This certainly expanded our collection and deepened the joy we derive from it. We are proud to have been involved with our partners, The Friends of Welgemeend, Strauss & Co and Delaire Graff, in preserving Welgemeend and bringing art to our community.”

Frank Kilbourn, who is curating the exhibition together with Strauss & Co’s head curator Wilhelm van Rensburg, adds: “For the tenth edition of August Art Month at Welgemeend, we thought it would be rewarding to look specifically at the many and diverse portrayals of life and the landscape of the Cape by artists we collect. It is always a joy to hang these exhibitions at Welgemeend, and this year we hope to once again surprise visitors with a selection of artworks that encompass both the natural beauty of the region and important social events particular to this part of South Africa.”

The artist line up is thoroughly diverse and ranges from celebrated Cape landscape painters like Gregoire Boonzaier, Gwelo Goodman, J. E. A. Volschenk, Hugo Naude’ and Eric Laubscher to documentary photographers David Goldblatt, George Hallett and Jürgen Schadeberg. The exhibition will include a focus on Simon’s Town-born painter and graphic artist Peter Clarke, whose socially minded work lovingly focussed on life in the Cape Peninsula. Nic Bladen’s life-size bronze studies of petite Cape flora contrast with painter Matthew Hindley’s larger-scale studies of fires on Table Mountain.

“I am particularly fond of the heritage and educational aspect of August Art Month at Welgemeend,” says Lizelle Kilbourn, lawyer and writer. “This project, which is about fostering art and community, takes place in a landmark space that is 330 years old. Welgemeend houses and displays earlier 20th-century masterpieces formerly owned by the much-loved Afrikaans poet and scholar Izak Wilhelmus “Boerneef” van der Merwe. It is important that we as South Africans are afforded opportunities to reflect on our cultural heritage and share the incredible art that has been created in our country.”

“Cultivating an appreciation for art and enriching the experience of it for those already on their journey as collectors is central to our function as South Africa’s premier auction house,” says Bina Genovese, Managing Executive, Strauss & Co. “August Art Month at Welgemeend has established itself as a wonderful platform allowing private collectors to show their work to an art-interested public. We are proud to support this superb annual initiative, which is an important passion project for us.”

The programme highlight for 2023 was a ticketed opening gala dinner and fundraising auction catered by Jacques Erasmus, owner of renowned Cape Town restaurant Hemelhuijs. Frank Kilbourn offered four public walkabouts of Cape Moments/ Kaapse Oomblikke, while virtuoso pianist Gerhard Joubert performed a recital recently. 

Make sure you catch the last few days to view the exhibition.

Go to www.welgemeendart.co.za for pricing and timing info.

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