Exploring La Motte’s historical art

Coincidentally last Saturday we were invited to lunch on a farm outside Franschhoek the same day as the town’s annual Bastille Festival. Optimistically I thought we might pop into the famous food and wine marquee but the numerous cars going the same way made us do a quick U-turn and head instead for La Motte.

This beautiful wine estate, bought in 1970 by the late Anton Rupert, was buzzing with visitors. The welcoming attendants in red berets with smiles as bright as their cherry red lipstick were clearly in festive mood too.

The added bonus was a roaring fire.

The farm is now the home of Dr Rupert’s daughter, mezzo soprano Hanneli-Rupert-Koegelenberg and her CEO husband, Hein. Hanneli’s commissions explain the strong, silent presence of women you keep bumping into – eight sculptures created by South African artists Toby Megaw and his reclusive, father Theo.

The first piece to meet and greet us outside in the rain was Toby’s Wine Bearer depicting a woman – four metres tall and weighing 560 kg – holding an overflowing cup symbolising the estate’s tradition of sharing.
Elsewhere on the Statue Walk, one of the farm’s latest attractions, were Toby’s Harvest Girl, Girl with Violin and Mother and Child.

Theo’s contributions were the graceful feminine figures of Solitude, Rose and Adanté as well as The Kiss – a tender piece in the courtyard showing a mother kissing her small child. In stark contrast displayed in the museum was Anton van Wouw’s famous Voortrekker vrou en Kinders, honouring the courage and perseverance of Voortrekker women.

Another artist with a strong presence on the farm was Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886 – 1957) whose many paintings displayed in the museum must be worth a fortune.

At a recent auction in Joburg Pierneef’s 1928 Farm Beyond Jonkershoek with Twin Peaks Beyond fetched R20m.

However, affordable and fun Pierneef memoirs were also available in the well-stocked gift shop where tea towels and butchers’ blocks come emblazoned with Pierneef’s name.

Had we visited the Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant we would have found the artist’s name also written in chocolate on almost all cakes and yummy desserts.

Key mix-up

Stories of other people’s lost car keys always make one feel better. Take this case….
Members at Constantia’s Run Walk For Life branch usually make use of the keyboard in the clubhouse. However recently a runner running late, tucked her car key into her bra, went for a run and on her return forgot about her own key and picked up a look-alike from the board.

Normally the wrong key won’t open your car but the key in her bra responded and she was not only able to get into her car but drive home thanks to its keyless ignition system. Only several hours later, she was embarrassed to discover she had three keys and only one was hers. Not so lucky was the walker who found her car key was nowhere to be found on the board, the floor or on the nearby table. Without a magic carpet to get home, she had to phone her husband at work in Paarden Eiland to fetch her in Constantia.

Daydreaming in the shower

I was amused at the “Quote of the Day” in a recent edition of Business Report where Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator had once said, “It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.”

He must have been referring to those leisurely, lashings of hot water showers we used to enjoy. Not the miserly ones we occasionally take trying to get thoroughly clean in two short minutes.

Popular eateries close up shop

Sadly two popular restaurants around here have closed. Greens, situated in the leafy surrounds of the High Constantia Centre near Groot Constantia, did so recently while the family friendly Village Bistro in the Meadowridge Park ’n Shop shut its doors about a year ago.

I only noticed the empty restaurant the other day when I parked near it and was told by a local shopkeeper that Woolworths were taking over the space for a coffee shop.

We enjoyed many a family celebration there, but it was also one of those eateries where if you had a sudden whim to eat out in a cozy, friendly place, you could arrive early and get a table.

I was a pushover for their desserts which came beautifully decorated with spun sugar.

Greens had a pleasantly relaxed ambience provided you were not in a too much of a hurry as it was usually busy. The nicest spot was the front patio with its canopy of trees and stunning mountain views.

Safer travels for cyclists

Now that some cycle lanes are usable we can appreciate how much thought has gone into every metre. Roadside trees have been trimmed back and where they have been left, light grey kerbstones have been arranged in a neat “square bracket” to mark them out. Similarly any thin poles or other obstructions have been made obvious.

Interesting things are also happening at the corner of Spaanschemat River Road opposite the stone church.
There is no space on the road for safe cycling so workmen are bundu bashing through reeds to create a path, and further along, soil is being piled up to make what looks like becoming an elevated section.

Days gone by

Remember when you could refer to your knees as left and right instead of good and bad? Those were the pain-free days, my friend.

fionachisholm@iafrica.com