Good times and fine wines at the Winter Sculpture Fair
It was held for the first time last year and was a knockout success – a good reason to host it again this year.
And what's not to love? Franschhoek's finest chefs and restaurants come to the Gauteng countryside (a part of Gauteng that also just happens to be the birthplace of humankind), while there are gorgeous wines from some of South Africa's finest wine estates – all on offer in a beautiful setting where one can wander around and view sculptures of all shapes and sizes by some of the country's finest artists.
And Gauteng was wearing her very best dress over the weekend of 10 and 11 May – the bright blue skies and sunny weather made one question whether the festival should have the word 'winter' in its title. While the event brought in large numbers, the vibe was laid-back and was very much a family affair. And with the Sunday being Mother's Day, it was the perfect outing for mom, dad, the kids, granny and grandpa (and whoever else might have wanted to pop along).
Although the event was well attended throughout the weekend, one never felt crowded, and that's because the Nirox Sculpture Park is a large green space, surrounded by trees and water. And it was easy to find a quiet spot near the water to feast on the beautiful breads and olives, the mushroom gnocchi and the strawberries and cream with balsamic reduction (along with a little bottle of bubbly).
The event was well organised with different tents and outdoor lounges offering the finest food and wine. Names like Moreson, Holden Manz Wine Estate, Plaisir de Merle, Vrede en Lust, Boekenhoutskloof, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Haute Cabriere and Pierre Jourdan, La Motte, and Solms-Delta all offered their fine wines (among others), which could be purchased by the glass, bottle and even case.
Food lovers were spoilt for choice with Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant (cauliflower cheese risotto, charcuterie and bread, home-made fudge); Cafe des Arts (tuna fishcakes); Leopard's Leap Rotisserie (antipasti with bread); Paulina's Restaurant (mushroom gnocchi with Chevin and roasted cherry tomatoes); The Kitchen at Maison (a Madiba homebrew burger with chakalaka (spicy tomato and onion relish) and a version for the kids); the French Connection Bistro (char-grilled beef short rib with winter slaw); and Fyndraai Restaurant (Cape snoek pâté served on wild herb seed-loaf toast with grape preserves).
The Bacon of the Month Club offered up its famous bacon sarmie (sandwich), while Paul's Homemade Ice Cream and Huguenot Fine Chocolates added a sweet touch.
On entry, visitors were given a map of the grounds, which meant they could easily pinpoint a favourite vineyard (or what they would like to eat) and find out a bit more about all the incredible sculptures in the grounds.
The Nirox Sculpture Winter 2014 exhibition showcased almost 100 sculptures created by 50-plus artists. The art was curated by Mary Jane Darroll. One of the main pieces at this year's event was Frank van Reenen's The Giant (5m high).
While the day was about adult pastimes – art, food and wine – the kids weren't left bored. With a sloping embankment just near the Poplar Tent offering the perfect playground to run around on, there was no need for noisy jumping castles or other forms of entertainment. Skimming pebbles on the dams was another favourite among the kids, and ice cream, chocolate brownies and cake pops were a perfect reward.
It was a weekend of lazing, lounging, feasting and hanging out. All we need to do now is to convince the organisers at Artlogic (which also organises the Joburg Art Fair) to please try make sure this event happens more than once a year.
The Nirox Sculpture Park is located in the Cradle of Humankind, close to major attractions, including Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves. For more information, contact email@example.com.