Norval Foundation is one of Cape Town’s premier art destinations, situated in Cape Town’s lesser-trodden southern suburbs, away from the tourist-ridden CBD and V&A Waterfront. This quiet location gives the museum a contemplative feel, which – coupled with its exquisite setting in a view-drenched sculpture garden, with panoramas of mountains, fynbos and vineyards – certainly sets it apart.
Current exhibitions at Norval Foundation
The enchanting sculpture garden sets the tone upon arrival. Then, it’s time to venture within the impressive glass-panelled building to witness an impressive array of exhibitions.
Labour of Many by Ibrahim Mahama
On display until 5 August 2019
Currently housed in Norval Foundation’s largest gallery space – the nine-metre-high Gallery 8 – this exhibition provides a powerful commentary on the role of Africa’s labour force in the global exchange of resources. The gallery is completely draped in hessian cocoa-bean sacks from Ghana, many of which bear traces of their previous owners.
The sacks, imported from India and Bangladesh to Ghana (the second-largest cocoa exporter in the world), were used to transport cocoa, and then repurposed for the shipment of charcoal from Ghana’s rural areas to its metropolitan centres.
Trade Winds by Yinka Shonibare CBE
On display until 26 August 2019
The exhibition comprises a number of artworks made from Dutch Wax fabric, which was mass-produced in the Netherlands during the 19th century, using wax-resistant dying techniques that originated on the Indonesian island of Java (where they were co-opted by Dutch colonists).
The material was exported to West Africa and, following decolonisation in the 1960s, was used to produce the colourful cotton clothing that now forms an iconic element of African identity.
The intricate journey of Dutch Wax fabric, from Indonesia to the Netherlands to Africa, is told by Yinka Shonibare’s exhibition
On the Mines by David Goldblatt
On display until 11 August 2019
A collection of 80 photographs dedicated to South Africa’s gold mines and the communities that grew around them, this is the last exhibition that Goldblatt was personally involved in before his death in 2018. It includes individuals who worked in the mine shafts, as well as those who reaped the benefits.
The Sculpture Garden & Skotnes
Surrounded by wetlands and mountains, the sculpture garden is easily accessed from the galleries, forming an immersive, omnipresent art experience.
And then there’s Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, Norval Foundation’s restaurant, where visitors can enjoy a meal before or after touring the galleries. Bring the children, as there’s a playground to keep them occupied.
Good to know
- Admission to the Norval Foundation Art Museum is free on the First Thursday of every month.
- Daily free tours take place at 2pm (meet at the donation box), and can accommodate a maximum of 25 people. Report to reception on the day to reserve your place.
- Private tours can be booked through firstname.lastname@example.org.