Baardskeerdersbos. An intriguing hamlet with “five liquor licences, a church ….and no coffee shop!”, home to an eclectic mix of creative newcomers and more conservative older residents, many of whom are members of the original farming families of the area.
The Baardskeedersbos Art Route, which takes place twice year, drew us to it as word was that this is an event not to be missed.
Baardskeedersbos, or B’Bos as it is affectionately known (much easier to spell!), lies about 25km inland from Gansbaai in the Overberg. Our route took us along the gravel road from Stanford past Grootbos and Platbos along part of the road under construction which will link the more southerly villages to Bredasdorp, a route marketed as the Fynbos Route. The road, running through gentle hilly country, is lined by flower and cattle farms and vineyards.
We had heard of a barber who would cross the mountains on foot from Tesslersdal to Stanford to cut hair and beards so was under the impression that the little village of B’bos was also a centre for his activities.
Not so. Baardskeedersbos, or or “Baardscheerders Bosch” in the original Dutch literally means “Beard Shaver’s Forest”. The beard shaver it turns out is not a human but a small arachnid variously called a camel spider, wind scorpion, sun spider, or solifuge.
I thought that this strange creature, photographed while walking to one of the studios, might be a baardskeerder (although I was puzzled by its wings), but the experts at I-Spot have identified it as being a Mole Cricket.
Our first stop was at B’Bos Gallery, the home and studio of Ivan Trollip. The paintings, sculptures and ceramics of a number of artists were on display, some of which I would love to have in my home. The Japanese fish printing of Liz van den Berg was something new to us, providing inspiration for much artistic experimentation. Ivan’s house itself was fascinating, the bathroom and toilet having been built into what was a cement rain tank in days of yore. En suite to the house of course. Ivan told us that when he bought the house it merely had a long drop in the garden.
We could have lingered longer, enjoying the stimulating company of Ivan and Jan Vingerhoets, who turns unwanted and discarded objects into useful and enchanting works of art, but there was still much we wished to see.
Not that we could have hurried. Both within and without the galleries and studios there was much to feast the eyes upon.
A wonderful image of human warmth and kindness – and community.
A few kilometres out of town lie the studios of Amanda Jephson and Kali van der Merwe. Amanda creates with paints and pencil while Kali creates with her camera. Again one could not be rushed, especially not if one became immersed in the “Where’s Kali” game of trying to find her image in each of her extraordinary photographs.
Nestled in a forest is the home studio of Niel Jonker where a very enterprising young man from Durban was selling his scrumptious home-made vegetarian curry dishes which we enjoyed in the shade of the garden amidst Niel’s sculptures- a very pleasant and restful interlude.
A short walk through the forest to the studio of Joshua Miles took us past this enormous figure resting beneath the boughs.
Amidst his beautiful landscapes of the Overberg and the Little Karoo, Joshua explained his technique of creating reduction woodcuts which was most intriguing. In a room alongside were the enchanting and playful linocuts of Theo Paul Vorster, a guest artist from Cape Town.
A wonderful feature of the Baardskeerdesbos Art Route is the variety of the artwork, of the materials and the styles of the artists. A short trek up the hill from Joshua Miles brought us to the studio of Philip John who has discovered delight in creating with cow dung.
Our final point of call a was at to see the works of Coleen Emmenis and our friend, Lyn Whittle from Muizenberg, where apart enjoying the works on display, a thirst quenching cold beer while chatting on the stoep was just what the doctor ordered.
A meander back via Gansbaai and a viewing of the the whales at De Kelders rounded of what had been a perfect and inspirational outing.
You may wonder why an article about the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route contains so few pictures of the artworks themselves, but I would not like to transgress any copyrights so to see some of the artworks go here.