Neat rows of vineyards, heavily laden with fruit at this time of the year, guide the eye to the Hawequa nature reserve and adjoining Wemmershoek Mountains, which stand sentry over the northern reaches of the picturesque Franschhoek valley. Here, a mere stone’s throw from the manicured gardens of La Motte wine estate, nature is untamed and uncultivated. The indigenous Fynbos vegetation thickly carpets the slopes with a tangle of green, brown, and rusty-coloured shrubs, punctuated by bursts of brightly coloured flowers.
Orange Pincushions, pink Proteas, fiery red-hot pokers, blue Disas, purple Ericas, and white blushing brides: the fynbos erupts into a cacophony of vibrant colours, which are most beautifully juxtaposed by the warm, rusty and dark green tones of its shrubbery. And it’s this – the floral splendour of the indigenous vegetation surrounding La Motte – that is the focal point of the estate’s latest art exhibition, Fleurs de La Motte.
Floral masterpieces by Paula van Coller-Louw
The museum at La Motte opened eight years ago and, every year since has staged an art exhibition to celebrate both the incredible talent of our local artists and the Franschhoek valley’s staggering natural beauty. The exhibition space here rotates on an annual basis, closes over the winter months.
Fleurs de La Motte is the new exhibit that, as of 1st February 2018, displays artworks by Paula van Coller-Louw. The inspiration of this Stellenbosch-based fine artist is the magnificent beauty of the indigenous Fynbos vegetation, as well as the estate’s magnificent rose gardens and Lavender fields. Each painting (oil on canvas) has a floral focal point – a Disa bloom, a branch laden with blossoms, Pincushion proteas – set against a backdrop of textured, bold colours, an enigma that draws you in and pleases the senses with intense colour and depth.
Live sculpture of a life-sized “The Blushing Bride”
The intrigue of Fleurs de La Motte is further heightened by the presence of a live sculpting by celebrated South African artist and sculptor, Toby Megaw, taking place right in the centre of the exhibition space. Called “The Blushing Bride”, the sculpture will be a life-sized rendition of the original (of the same name), which depicts a woman with her arms thrown in the air and clad in an exuberant dress inspired by the beautiful Blushing Bride fynbos flower.
The sculpture will be developed in the museum over the course of the next four to six months, providing visitors with a unique and privileged window into the world of the artist, as he creates. The final product will be an exuberant celebration of the Cape’s fynbos, right down to the bronzed patina of the sculpture, which very much captures the hue of the fynbos landscape.
“I am interested on one level in exploring the beauty of how our humanity expresses itself through form, stance and subtle gesture,” says Toby Megaw, a passion that is entirely evident in the extraordinary and lifelike sculptures he creates from clay and then casts in bronze.
The Fleurs de la Motte exhibition is a pleasure for anyone, not only art fiends. Paula’s artwork by can be appreciated at face value – for its aesthetic beauty and the skill that has gone into capturing the essence of the flower – as well as from a deeper, more emotive perspective. And Toby’s live-action sculpting is fascinating to watch and all the encouragement one could need to return to the estate, again and again, to see it evolve.
We live in a fast-paced technological world, where the soul and the spirit have fallen by the wayside, and in which emotions are strictly controlled and rationed. The Fleurs de La Motte exhibit is not only about recognising and celebrating the magnificent floral splendor of La Motte and its surrounding indigenous vegetation, it’s also (literally) about stopping to smell the roses, to allow this beauty to percolate into our anaemic world and drive a powerful emotional response.
It is through art that our spiritual and emotional beings are remembered and then awakened, and this is something held in the highest regard by the curator of La Motte’s museum, Eliz-Marié Schoonbee, as well as the estate’s CEO Hein Koegelenberg.
Ultimately, it couldn’t be said any better than in the words of sculptor Toby Megaw: “Art takes you by the hand to a new world from which you return enriched, challenged, and nourished.”
So, go to La Motte, steep yourself in this beautiful exhibit, indulge in tea and treats in their exquisite garden restaurant, and see how you emerge enriched, challenged, and nourished.
Fleurs de La Motte will be on exhibition until 17th June 2018. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00 to 17:00 and entrance is complimentary. The Fleurs de La Motte Experience (tour) takes place on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 and costs R150 per person. Reservations are essential and can be made online at www.la-motte.com or T: +27 (0) 21 876 8850, E: firstname.lastname@example.org.