5 fantastic sculpture gardens to explore

Posted on 20 August 2021

If you’re an art lover but you’ve been left pulling out your hair because Covid-fear has kept you cooped up in your home, we may have the answer for you. Two words: Sculpture. Gardens.

Here are a few of the best in the country.

1. The Dylan Lewis sculpture garden

‘Located between two worlds, one wild and one tamed, the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden borders the manicured suburbs of Stellenbosch and a rugged mountain wilderness where leopard still roam.’ Or so says the website anyway.

In this garden, the artist explores the notion of ‘the wilderness within’. Visitors will be able to see more than 60 sculptures constituting a comprehensive record of Lewis’ artistic development carefully sited along 4 km of paths.

The garden contains many indigenous species, particularly fynbos. Although planted to give year-round colour, it peaks between July and September, when its many buchus and ericas are in fragrant flower.

Lewis’ sculptures are an outlet for his emotions and one of his themes is the personal quest for the unknowable and the impossible. ‘That element for me is in the garden: the search for meaning, the sense of what this journey is all about,’ he says.

By appointment only. R150 pp. Book here Under 18s free

2. The Norval Foundation

Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, under the shadow of Table Mountain, the Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature.

There’s some great artwork on display – inside and out – courtesy of some well known names.

The Norval family aims to make art widely accessible to local and international visitors by creating a self-sustaining centre for art through high-quality exhibitions and public programming to broaden our understanding of the visual arts. ‘Art has the power to enrich our lives and that artists contribute to our communities in a profound way,’ they stress.

R180 pp Under 18s free. Free entry on first Thursday of the month.

3. Everard Read Sculpture Garden

Featuring works by Speelman Mahlangu, Beth Diane Armstrong and Deborah Bell, Franschhoek’s Everard Read sculpture garden focuses on exhibiting monumental sculptures among the breathtaking fynbos and vineyards of Leeu Estates.

The Fynbosch Quarter, where the new gallery is located, was designed by DHK architects, who also designed the Norval Foundation.

The gallery complex includes a studio and cottage for the artist residency programme, which provides a tranquil retreat for artists to focus on developing new ideas which will generate interesting content for the gallery going forward.

Visitors are encouraged to make a day or even a weekend of it to enjoy founder Analjit Singh’s vision for Leeu Estates to be one of the Western Cape’s great destinations.

Open 10am-5pm Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free.

4. The Nirox Sculpture Park

‘Nirox is defined by its sense of place, its atmosphere, its deep embedded past and active present. It is not virtual reality but values the reach and ingenuity of that world.’ Uh huh. What they said.

Allow plenty of time to peruse the many permanent works donated to the garden, situated west of Joburg in the Cradle of Humankind. The website was a bit light on info about the gardens but current projects include Margins of Error, with installations and performances from South Korea, Morocco and SA; The Real DMZ project, curated by Sunjung Kim; and That Hidden Thread, curated by Marta Moriarty.

Angus Taylor’s enormous Morphic Resonance is the centrepiece of the garden.

Admission: R120pp. Under 12s free

5. Anton Smit Sculpture Garden

Also in Gauteng, this sculpture park in Aqua Vista overlooking Bronkhorstspruit Nature Reserve is but an hour’s drive from Joburg and well worth the visit.

Smit’s work has been shown and lauded internationally in places as diverse as Rome and Milan, in Singapore, Cologne and Amsterdam.

The garden, which opened in 2003, is a destination of creativity attracting tourists and art buyers locally and internationally.

The Sculpture Park’s three hectares enjoy a backdrop of natural stone formations, manicured lawns and succulent gardens while the garden provides a lovely environment to view the expansive collection of monumental sculptures and exhibitions.

The Park expands the traditional concept of an art venue, ensuring a truly unique and inspiring experience.

Smit worked mostly with metal and stone, focusing on the human form, faces and heads in particular. His many sculptures here reflect that.

Free admission

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