Starting in December 2020, the artwork, an interpretation of footprints and tracks of people, cattle, horses and wagons, was painstakingly translated into mosaic by the skilled mosaicists in the Spier Artisan Studio. The mosaic was made using natural stone and Venetian smalti (opaque glass paste). Overlaid on the path spanning the Mosaic Kraal, Spier History Trails pays tribute to the multitude of unacknowledged people that have lived and worked here over the past millennia. Their names might not have been recorded but the flow of their daily lives, and the animals they tended, have left their indelible tracks throughout the memory of the farm.
As a wine farm, Spier’s recorded history began in 1692, making this one of the oldest wine farms in the country. Straddling the Eerste River, our location, however, has been home to various peoples for millennia. The earliest include the hunter-gather San and the pastoralist Khoekhoen. After the establishment of the Cape Colony, European settlers and their descendants owned slaves brought from the former Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia), many of whose names went unrecorded. The land was parcelled up and sold, and sold again, and with time people and activities continued to change.
Although the small personal histories of the many people that lived in or traversed Spier have faded, their stories remain, in folklore, oral traditions, in the buildings and in the utensils left behind. The soil remembers too: the footprints and the tracks of working people and their animals might not now show but the land remembers their passing.
History has a habit of placing importance on names and dates. Since this work is in acknowledgement of all those who remain unnamed the artist chooses to remain anonymous.
Art is as much part of Spier as good food and fine wine are. Spier believes that the visual arts are a powerful tool for transformation – sparking new insights and inspiring us to engage with our world in new and imaginative ways. Spier supports and stimulates the arts community in South Africa through projects that honour our African arts heritage and enriches its future.