From Spier's public spaces to displays in the Manor House and wine shop, art is as much part of Spier as good food and fine wine is. The artworks are rotated every year to give exposure to as many artists as possible, and to keep the spaces fresh for visitors and staff.
Explore the farm, and add these must-see artworks to your route:
1. The Dying Slave by Marco Cianfanelli
Location: On the walkway between the hotel and conference venue
Mosaic – Nine columns of 4,2 x 0,6 x 0,3m each
When seen from a specific vantage point, the nine columns making up this large mosaic work line up revealing the complete image of The Dying Slave. Designed by Cianfanelli, the image was inspired by Michelangelo’s well-known artwork featuring a male slave in the ecstatic throes of dying.
The staggered placement of the columns invites visitors to interact and circulate through the artwork. Mirror images of The Dying Slave are installed back-to-back, one a “positive” image and the other a “negative” inversion of the same image. Over the course of five months, 10 mosaic artists cut 225 000 tesserae (mosaic pieces) by hand. The more than 1500kg of material included natural materials (such as limestone, marble, granite, pebbles) as well as industrial glass, porcelain, ceramics and Venetian glass.
Cianfanelli earned a distinction in Fine Art from Wits and has had five solo exhibitions. His numerous awards include the 2002 ABSA L’Atelier.
2. Vortex I by Richard Forbes
Location: Next to the entrance to the Eagle Encounters
Painted steel – 4100 x 4500 mm
This installation is a physical expression of energy, unseen force and the wind that makes a storm to create a vortex. It symbolises the twist of the fabric of life which could be a portal to an alternate dimension, a wormhole through time and a fresh perspective.
Richard John Forbes lives and works in Johannesburg as a visual artist. He has had seven solo exhibitions both at home and abroad, and participated in over 20 group shows. There is a broad range in Richard’s practice always aiming to expand the experiential and engage his audience actively in the process.
3. Creative Block artworks
Location: Tasting Room, Spier Hotel foyer, Spier Artisan Studio
Various media – 180 x 180mm
The Creative Block project gives opportunities to artists of outstanding talent, some well known and others newly discovered. This is achieved on an on-going basis by providing artists with blank blocks, to be transformed in any media they wish. More than 150 artists have contributed to the project with roughly 60 artists submitting works monthly. To hone their creative nous, artists are given critical feedback when presenting their work; the best pieces are bought immediately.
The Creative Block is a gateway between creative realms – connecting artist and art collector. It provides artists with a constant source of due acknowledgement, and collectors with an accessible means to acquiring one-off quality works of art to create unique collections. Blocks can also be exchanged — which invites creative play as collectors arrange, rearrange and add new blocks to their collections. The project inspired Spier’s award-winning Creative Block wine range.
The artworks are for sale at R1500. Enquire at the Tasting Room or the Spier Hotel about purchasing one.
4. Recycled chandelier by Heath Nash
Location: Tasting Room
The chandelier above the Tasting Room’s counter was created by artist Heath Nash from 334 recycled wine bottles, and weighs about 370kg.
The visually striking work embodies Spier’s commitment to a sustainable future. The farm recycles all of its wastewater (at its eco-friendly treatment plant), recycles all of its organic waste and more than 97% of its solid waste.
Elle Decoration SA designer and lighting designer of the year in 2005/6, Nash studied fine art at the University of Cape Town. He then established his own design studio where he and his team create beautiful lighting and homeware products – predominantly using recycled materials.
5. Altered Yarns by Tamlin Blake
Location: Eight Restaurant
This collection of tapestry artworks was created by Tamlin Blake. A professional multi-media South African artist based in Riebeek West, Blake was a participant of the Spier Arts Patronage Programme
that provides long-term support to exceptional artists. Using a homemade spindle, she spun dyed sheets of newspaper cut into thin strips to create a textured yarn.
Mirroring this intricate process, Blake’s works explore the many ways in which our lives are shaped by the stories of others.
“I am interested in working, visually and conceptually, with how stories weave themselves around us, influencing what we do and how we think. Without us being aware, the news, gossip and other peoples’ successes and tragedies form the background fabric of our everyday lives. These stories filter through to us, affect our thinking and form the backbone of our society,” she says. “Tapestry itself is traditionally a form of story telling. Like the newspaper they are printed on, these used and discarded tales have been reinvented and recycled, woven back and forth in an intricate pattern to form images, which then in turn create a new contemporary narrative.'
Find more must-see artworks at Spier here.