To start the week off strong we went and climbed Table Mountain on Sunday! We did a little research and decided Platteklip Gorge was the best trail for us to take. Our timing was not so great so we started a little later in the day which resulted in us having to race against the sun to get to the top so we wouldn’t be climbing in the dark or so we would not miss the cable car back down! Otherwise we would be stuck climbing back down in the dark! We made it thankfully, but it definitely was no cake walk. It was pretty rough and I think we all at one point were reconsidering our decision to climb this mountain, especially since it felt like it was never-ending! We took a wrong turn at one point which led us to a cool waterfall which was actually worth the wasted time. We struggled sometimes but when we all finally made it to the top it was such an amazing feeling. At the top we had a group bonding moment because it was seriously such an accomplishment for us all. I think it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and I have never felt more accomplished and proud. Once at the top it was an easy walk to the cable car which we took back down instead of climbing.
The rest of the week went by so fast it was crazy! On Monday we switched things up a bit by working in the marine biology collections area of the museum. We worked with the small specimens of coral and all other weird sea life. It was pretty cool to see this other side of museums since up till now we have been working with just the art and social history side of museums. It was really cool to experience this aspect of museums and see how this department functions.
Then the rest of the week we were back with Janine and Bradley working on documenting and cleaning a bunch of old artifacts that had just come back from the Slave Lodge after having been there for almost 20 years! It was pretty interesting work and it was nice being able to see and experience for myself how these artifacts are handled. This week we definitely did and saw a lot of new stuff that goes along with working in museums and handling the various collections of the museum.
On Friday, our final day (insert sad face), we gave a presentation about all we have learned and experienced here at the Iziko museums. Afterwards we gave little going away gifts to everyone there and said our goodbyes to Janine, Bradley, Wandile, and a couple other people that we worked with along the way. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to say goodbye to all these amazing people I had met and worked with here. I know we will for sure miss Cape Town and South Africa and all the cool and amazing people we met here. It was such an amazing experience and I can say for sure that I will never forget this crazy journey!
During our third week here at the Iziko museums we started Monday off by cleaning the new exhibit in the Castle of Good Hope. This exhibit had been closed for over a year and it’s reopening was this week so we helped clean and prepare the space. Tuesday was Mandela Day so we went with Sthembele on the mobile museum to an area called Wellington where we facilitated an activity for the kids at the children’s home that we visited. We took our former printmaking experience and did a small activity using the Styrofoam method and had the kids make their own prints on pieces of paper. It was really successful and I think the kids had a good time!
This week was Lizz’s birthday week so we spent time celebrating with her doing various activities. On Wednesday we went to a really really fancy dinner on her birthday that served a 6 course meal with wine pairings. The highlight was the dessert, it was absolutely delicious! We all had a really good time and I especially enjoyed experiencing something a little different from what we have been doing here in Cape Town so far. On Friday we went back to Camps Bay beach and enjoyed the sand and the sun since it was such a beautiful day. Afterwards we went on the Ferris wheel at the Waterfront and enjoyed the views of Cape Town.
Over the weekend we made the trip to Stellenbosch to some wine tasting; we had dinner at one winery and did tastings at two others, one of which had a chocolate and wine pairing! It was interesting seeing this area of Cape Town because it was still very similar but had such a different vibe. It has been really interesting hearing people’s opinions of these different areas of South Africa and then being able to see it for myself.
This week we continued working with Carol in the National Gallery to help set up the exhibition “Hidden Treasures”. We finished some stuff we had already started working on and helped set up other things as well. It was really satisfying seeing everything starting to come together!
On Tuesday we went with the mobile museum for the first time to a library that had a program for kids over their break from school. Sthembele did a little presentation with the artifacts from the museum and afterwards we helped the kids do a little bead making activity.
On Friday we went on a tour of Parliament and saw all the rooms in which their meetings are held. It was really cool learning about the designated seating and who sat where. We also learned some other background information about these chambers and how the meetings work.
After our tour in Parliament we went with Janine to the Castle of Good Hope for the first time briefly to see the new exhibition that they are setting up which has been closed for over a year. Janine also showed us a gallery there containing old traditional and modern pottery. I really enjoyed seeing all the old beer pots and Zulu pottery alongside more modern pottery. It was interesting to compare them and see how pottery has progressed. I could honestly spend hours there just admiring everything, and since my concentration is in ceramics I really enjoy examining stuff like this to try and figure out the techniques and methods used. This was definitely the highlight of this week for me!
This week was the beginning of our internships at the Iziko Museums! Our first day we met with Wandile, the education coordinator who set up our internships for the next month. We went over what the next month would look like for us as we worked with the Iziko museums and what types of activities and trips that was included. Wandile is a really interesting guy and it was fascinating hearing about the work he is doing and what he is researching as well as what he will be doing when he travels to the States soon. All the people we meet have so much to say and such intriguing work that they do, I love it!
We quickly visited the Bo-Kaap museum where a large Muslim population is located; this area was particularly cool because all the buildings are of a certain style. There are also rules such as ones that prevent building anything too tall that maintain the style and authenticity of the community. Afterwards Wandile showed us a nice place to grab lunch quickly before we went to see a show at the Planetarium at the South Africa Museum. After we saw two shows we went to meet Bradley, our supervisor for the next month at the Social History building.
The rest of that week we worked with Bradley and Janine (our other supervisor) at both Social History and the National Gallery. We did a LOT of sewing the first week! We were tasked to make mannequins and stands for a new exhibition that was going into the National Gallery. We also worked with Carol Kauffman who was the curator for the exhibition, she was very fun to work with because you can see just how passionate and excited she is about the artwork. I really enjoyed learning about the objects and art that we were helping display since she has a vast knowledge of everything.
The work we did was a little annoying at times because of how tedious it seemed to be because it was mostly sewing, but it was so rewarding when we finally were able to see the finished product! I had always wanted to work in or have an inside look at how a museum prepares these exhibitions and I never realized before just how much work and detail goes into this type of stuff.
On Friday we took a little field trip to the West Coast Fossil Park which is affiliated with the Iziko Museums. It was about a two hour drive and then we were at the Fossil Park! We went on a tour of the sites where they had been uncovering fossils and had stopped because they were finished. I was surprised by the high concentration of fossils in that one tiny area, there were so many just jumbled together! That trip was a really fun way to see the other side of what the Iziko museums do. This week has definitely already been filled with really eye-opening and educational experiences and I am learning so much more than I thought I would. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for us!
We started this morning by going to the District 6 Museum; one thing we all noticed when we arrived was the large number of tour groups probably due to the rainy weather. We walked through the museum and we were each given the task of finding something that stood out to us so that we could discuss it together later. Everything that we chose brought up some very interesting topics of discussion. We discussed the music trends from that time, the former uses for the building in which the museum is housed, and how the museum and the community are related, etc. I was really interested in the relationship and tensions between the residents and the government and how the government created all these laws and rules for the living conditions in District Six. However, they wouldn’t really offer any help making those changes in their lives. The dynamics of this relationship was used to introduce discussion on the dynamics of the museum and who contributed to the building and shaping of the museum and the content found there.
After the museum, we met up with Rehana Odendaal, Andre and Zora’s daughter, for lunch real quick before we returned to our apartment and made some more art! We tried a new method of stenciling and using a form of spray paint. We chose a issue that we were concerned with and we had to make an icon to represent that idea. We used acetate to cut our icons into and then we put that over a sheet of paper and sprayed some paint over it. We all made a lot of different prints and they all turned out really good! The day ended up being very fun despite that I was feeling pretty sick all day.
That night Kiana, Kitty, and Lizz went out to explore Long street and see what type of stuff was going on there. I stayed in and rested so I could I could hopefully get better soon.
For our first full day in Cape Town we started off by going to the Iziko Museum where we will be interning for the next month. Our first stop was at the National Gallery where they had a display of various artworks from a span of artists. They had a few different exhibitions on display, however, I really enjoyed the Lionel Davis and the “At Face Value” exhibitions. “At Face Value” displayed traditional and modern portraits and of all different mediums and subjects; it had basically everything you could think of in terms of portraits. My favorite painting that I saw in that gallery was Frank Auerbach’s “Head of Julia”. This is probably due to the fact that in a previous painting class I did a project based on his work and his style continued to influence the rest of my work from then on. Also, my final project was focused on self portraits which I really enjoyed so that is another reason I was fascinated by this specific exhibition. I was really surprised to see it but when I did I knew right away it was an Auerbach painting, so I was really excited to be able to see a painting of his in person.
South African National Gallery
“Head of Julia”
In the museum they also had an exhibition dedicated to Asian puppets which was interesting to say the least… And in another exhibition there was an “interactive” sculpture called “The Womb Experience” by Zola Ndimande. You could literally crawl into a woven womb, which we all did, and it was a really weird but funny experience. The other exhibition that I really liked was Lionel Davis’s “Gathering Strands”. He had such an array of artwork of different mediums: he had printmaking, sketches, paintings, collages, and even some sculpture. It was crazy to see just how much he created and how he experimented with different mediums.
Marit in “The Womb Experience”
Kiana in “The Womb Experience”
After that we walked over to the Slave Lodge which is also an Iziko Museum; here we were able to walk through this building which held slaves way back when before it was used for other purposes. We learned a little bit more history on slave trade and how the slaves were treated back then. We were tight on time so we didn’t have quite as much time as we would have liked but there was a really cool gallery upstairs with traditional pottery which I definitely plan on going back to visit again!
We then had a quick lunch and then we were off to Streetwires! We had a quick tour of their new work space and learned how they operate. It is basically a business in which beadwork artists can work and sell their artwork through rather than sell on the streets. We then had a little workshop were we all learned how to do this type of beadwork. We each made two little key chains (a star and a heart) which were actually very difficult! It was a little frustrating at first but soon I think we all got the hang of it! It was definitely very impressive and a little intimidating to see just how large some of their pieces are, one basically took up an entire wall! Some of them take up to months to finish, and that is with several people working on it together.
Delicious sandwich I had for lunch
Beadwork elephant head at Streetwires
The night came to a close as we stayed in and worked on our second reflections and went to bed since we were all pretty exhausted.
Today we left our beloved guest house bright and early for Kruger National Park. The drive consisted of 6 hours of driving broken up by a couple rest stops. The first couple hours we slept since we were all considerably tired from staying up late the night before hanging out with some artist friends we met here. One rest stop that had some nice quality gift shops and either a small lake or a large pond depending on how you want to look at it. It is probably the prettiest rest stop I have ever seen. Then the second half of the drive I stayed awake so I could enjoy the beautiful view of the mountains and terrain that we drove though, while everyone else went back to sleep. I pestered Marit with questions about the areas we were driving through and Kruger Park logistics. Basically what I learned was that there is no fence keeping the animals inside the park and that they could potentially roam freely around people’s houses if they want. Not concerning at all…
When we finally arrived in Marloth Park, a smaller park next to Kruger in which we were staying, we were given the grand tour of our “mansion” for the next few days. The lodge we stayed in was absolutely amazing, there was an awesome lookout connected to the upstairs balcony by a bridge where we could search for animals. We actually were able to see some waterbuck the first night and a bunch of elephants a later day.
View from the lookout
Bridge to the lookout
After resting for a couple hours we began cooking for a “family” dinner that we were hosting that night. We made a salad and recreated a pasta that I had at a restaurant back in Melville which consisted of pesto, tomatoes, and peppadew. The dinner was absolutely delicious as I am sure Marit and Nate can attest to, we even ate all the leftovers the next day! We ate our dinner outside while waiting to see some bush babies, which we did not get to see at all, but at least dinner was a success!
Following dinner, we learned a new form of printmaking using Styrofoam. We all chose an animal that we wanted to summon while in Kruger for our prints. I chose a warthog, Kitty used a zebra, Lizz chose an elephant, Kiana chose a giraffe, Nate used a porcupine and a hippo, and Marit chose a cheetah. Our prints must have been really good because of those animals the only one we did not have the chance to see was the cheetah. While making our prints, we tried malva pudding for dessert which is South African, and we also had some chocolate pudding as backup. Then we all crashed really hard because we had an early morning for Kruger Park!
This morning we had a late start to the day since it was Father’s day so we all got to sleep in a little which was nice. We started the day off by going to Arts on Main in Maboneng where we got lunch from various food vendors that were set up. Marit and I both got this really cool mix of coconut rice, some sort of sweet potato thing, and other various unknown veggies all in a lettuce bowl. It was delicious! (And really cool looking…) Afterwards we shopped around at the little shops and clothing/jewelry vendors within the building. I think we all bought something there and I got a couple things of jewelry for my friend and sister. They had some really cool and creative “wearable art” that we were all admiring for some time. We also walked along the sidewalks outside which were lined with more vendors selling a variety of stuff which mostly consisted of clothing, art, or jewelry as well as other crafts.
Cool street art in Maboneng
We then went over to Chad, Sbongenseni, and Nat’s studio, DGI Studio, and hung out with them and their friend Arthur. We talked more about printmaking and specifically their work and projects they are working on now. It was interesting to hear them talk more open and freely in their own studio as opposed to the David Krut studio about the work they do and the art politics in general. They also talked a lot about the expansion of Maboneng and the gentrification of the area. We also learned more about their backgrounds and where they come from and how they got into printmaking. It was also interesting to hear how Nat described the issues he came across with his identity and how others identified him did not necessarily match up to how he identified himself. This seems to be a common theme that we have noticed within museums and the people we have met. It was a really casual hangout and I really enjoyed how openly they discussed their lives and the issues that they come across while living here in Johannesburg.
When we came back to the guesthouse that night Kitty, Lizz, and I went to eat dinner at Poppy’s café where they had live jazz music playing. The food was pretty good and the music made it even better! Another successful day in Joburg!
Our second day in Johannesburg started off at the Apartheid Museum where we first met with Wayde Davy. We sat down with Wayde and learned about the museum and its role within society and educating the youth about their history. We also discussed how they keep the museum relevant especially considering the current political struggle. The museum also collaborates with other exhibitions and people to tell their stories and perspectives that are contextually relevant. It was really interesting hearing what Wayde had to say about the youth in South Africa and how many of them struggle with getting jobs even if they are educated because of disparities that are still evident.
After talking with Wayde we went through the actual museum and got an even better look into the evolution of South Africa’s history and how apartheid was introduced. While I had a superficial understanding of apartheid, the museum definitely gave me better insight to all the events that happened leading up to and during apartheid. I found the personal stories and accounts as well as the videos and pictures interesting because it gave me more understanding of how life was during those times.
We then had a quick lunch at the café at the museum where I had delicious pasta, and we had some time to look through the gift shop where I bought a CD called “The Great South African Trip” which I am really excited to listen to!
After that we went to Constitution Hill where we went through the men and women’s prisons where Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Winnie Mandela, among others were all held at some point. Seeing the conditions that the prisoners (especially the men) were subjected to were awful, but reading about the prisoners’ experiences and seeing the different cells they were kept in was startling. Afterwards we walked around the ramparts surrounding the Old Fort just as the sun was about to set; being up there gave us a beautiful view of Johannesburg so we definitely had to take the opportunity to get a cool squad picture!
Between the Supreme Court and Constitution Hill
Men’s isolation cells
Johannesburg from the ramparts
Johannesburg from the ramparts
We then went into the Constitutional Court which was literally right next door. I was surprised by just how much art they had, from permanent installation art to art on display through out the rest of the building; it almost felt like an art gallery instead of a court. Afterwards we came back to the guest house and learned how to do basic printmaking using rubber blocks that we carved out to create patterns that we found at the Constitutional Court.
For dinner we went to the IT Café where I had a (mushy) chickpea burger and iced mint tea (just a chunk of straight up mint leaves in water). It took us four some time to figure out how to successfully split the bill using cash, but we eventually figured it out thanks to Kiana!