Located in the Steenberg neighbourhood of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, the Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature.
Visitors get access to the gallery spaces, the lush Norval Foundation sculpture gardens and the on-site restaurants. Here is a guide to the exhibitions currently on display:
Also read: Art, music, family and food at the Norval Foundation
Berni Searle: Having but little Gold
A retrospective exhibition of the work of South African artist Berni Searle will run from 15 February until 13 November 2023. Titled “Having but little Gold”, the exhibition brings together many of Searle’s key works.
Berni Searle has become known over the last twenty-five years for her poetically charged work that consistently challenges her viewers to question accepted notions of identity, history, culture, memory, space and place.
Searle works with lens-based media, particularly photography and video, and frequently employs her own body to create complex images or narratives that are open to multiple interpretations and can often signify beyond a specific location or time.
This exhibition features works from the artist’s career, beginning with the “Colour Me” and “Discoloured” series, which featured Searle’s nude body coloured with spices and stained with black Egyptian henna, respectively. Searle’s impact as a practitioner and educator has been multifaceted, influencing both her peers and the younger generation of artists who have come after her.
A major publication, a series of public discussions and extensive digital content will accompany the exhibition, highlighting her contributions. Dr Liese van der Watt was appointed as the exhibition’s guest curator and has worked closely with the Searle and Norval Foundation’s curatorial team for the past four years.
Bonolo Kavula: Lewatle
Bonolo Kavula is a South African printmaker based in Cape Town and a recipient of the 2022 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize (NSAAP).
Kavula won the inaugural NSAAP with her body of work titled “re kopane ko thabeng”, a Setswana phrase that translates into English as “let’s meet at the mountain”. The title of this body of work refers to the mountain as a sacred meeting place, lending spiritual meaning to Kavula’s abstract work. Tswelopele (2021), the artist’s winning work, was the first time she overtly emphasised geometric shapes and a play with colour variations in her art-making practice.
Curated by Candice Thikeson, Kavula’s current exhibition titled “Lewatle” employs the ocean (lewatle in Setswana) as a trope, with its metaphorical, conceptual, and visual possibilities. Kavula creates minimalistic textile works of art that are calculated in structure but intuitive in process and completion.
Kavula’s creative process entails using wooden frames to thread lines into grids that hold the circular shweshwe discs to be glued. As a result, she creates geometric patterns of coloured fields and open space, a process involving repetition in a meditative gesture described by Kavula. Following that, the grids are frequently removed from their wooden frames and hung vertically against the wall.
Kavula uses the themes evoked by the ocean in her exhibition at the Norval Foundation to further explore the possibilities of scale, movement, and spatial presence, in part through experimentation with different methods of hanging.
iiNyanga Zonyaka: Athi-Patra Ruga III
“iiNyanga Zonyaka” (The Lunar Songbook) by Athi-Patra Ruga is part three of an ambitious atrium exhibition now on display at the museum’s entrance.
The art piece follows the journey of Nomalizo Khwezi, a young woman from a town just above the Kei River called eTsomo. Nomalizo studies in Azania City and then later works at the Brink Publishing House after being inspired by Noni Jabavu, the first black South African woman to publish an autobiography.
Despite her success, Nomalizo becomes lonely and feels a need to reconnect with her family and community.
As Yet Untitled: James Webb
“As Yet Untitled” by James Webb is hidden within the Norval Foundation’s Sculpture Garden’s Cape Lowland Freshwater Wetland, with a utilitarian visual language reminiscent of scientific apparatus and municipal infrastructure.
The sounds are generated in response to astronomical phenomena occurring in the skies above the foundation and are controlled by software designed specifically for this purpose.
Ongoing exhibition: Norval Foundation’s Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden at Norval Foundation showcases three-dimensional and installation-based artwork by South African and African artists.
The unique site, which is bisected by a protected Cape Lowland Freshwater Wetland and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Western Cape, contains indigenous flora. The placement of artwork considers the site, using the contours of the garden to conceal and reveal work, creating a journey of discovery for the viewer.
The building was designed in such a way that the western side gives way to the Sculpture Garden at multiple points, allowing visitors access from the galleries and connecting exhibitions taking place both inside and outside.
- Address: 4 Steenberg Road, Tokai, Cape Town
- Hours: Monday to Saturday: 9am – 5pm | Sunday: 10am – 4pm
- Membership and tickets: Webtickets
- Contact: 087 654 5900 | [email protected]
- Website: norvalfoundation.org
Peko Peko Restaurant invites you to Date Night at the Museum
Picture: @norvalfoundation / Instagram