Framed Art, Rugby, and a Little Dose of Nature

Everyday I am surprised by how fast time goes. The hours we spend at the Social History Centre each day feel so short and I am surprised by the amount of progress we make each day on the collections. I started off continuing to unpack items from boxes into the storage. I took a trip up the eighth floor to work on local and German tools. What shocked me what the beauty and history of these rusty chunks of metal. Large bellows stacked up across the floor next to shelves of small wrenches, blades, and knives. These were the supporting tools to help build what South Africa is today. The rest of the week, I was able to work with Bradley closely with the art collection of the Social History Centre. On the fifth floor is nearly 700 framed artworks hanging in racks. Our task was go to through all of these paintings, prints, drawings, watercolors and collages, and take a condition of the works. Though this might seem quick and easy, identifying and finding each artwork in the digital catalogue can get tricky because the database is still so new and improving. Through doing hundreds of these already this week, I am picking up some of the basic conditioning terms such as fading and yellowing of images, acid migrations, foxing and other conditioning terms. The language of conservation is still so new and working with the art collection is helping me get a better grasp of it. No matter how much I study these terms, being able to see the damages on actual works makes all the difference in understanding it.

This weekend was filled with sun, good food and nature! Friday, I took a trip to Woodstock to see a friend’s show. Woodstock reminded me a lot of Arts on Main in Joburg. Walking through the street there was a sense of that “roughness” too. There was something nice about that and getting lost while traveling. I was approached by homeless and waved to by passerby-ers. It felt like a community of people who were trying to revitalize a neighborhood, forcing a gap between the “outsiders” and “insiders.” The gallery was even probably the most welcoming one I’ve ever been to. When I walked in, the gallerists brought me a press release (and price list) and when I left, they gave me a free copy of Art Review and some posters…Who would’ve guessed!

I didn’t have much time to explore more in Woodstock, but I did make one last stop at a natural history store. The one-roomed shop had skulls, bones, to bird eggs. I ended up buying a deer horn and a springbok horn. The lady at the shop asked if I was traveling internationally. I let her know I was going back into the U.S. and she issued me a form from Cape Nature, saying that the horns were legally collected. This way customs would not give me any issues. This small detail reminded me of our park ranger, Patrick, at Pilanesburg, who described the huge issue with poaching rhinos for their horns. I brought the horns back and put them against my window sill, thinking about this fact.


Saturday, we went to the Springbok’s game at Newland Stadium. We wore our scarves that Marit and Nate bought us. With little to no clue about how the sport worked, we went and just took in the experience. Surprisely, it was pretty easy to catch on to the game’s rules. It’s so much simpler than football and so much more exciting because everyone is just tackling and wrestling each other. At some point, the teams almost got into a fight. The crowd was roaring as the Springboks beat the World team. We even did the wave several times around the stadium during the game.


Today, we spent most of the day at Kirstenbosch gardens. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I can only let photos tell our experience. Nature is incredible. (The restaurant Moyo was also so so good, wehad kudu bobotie, peri-peri chicken, and Malva pudding).