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Curator & Collector


Art vs Architecture: how Sea Lion’s diverse personal collection evolved

We catch up with the well-travelled owners of Sea Lion, who return to Cape Town as often as they can. There’s a story to each work and, not surprisingly, South African artists dominate this personal collection.

What was the first serious piece of art you bought? Do you still have it today?

The first serious piece of art was a bronze by Bruno Catalano called ‘Massimo’. Catalano depicts individual travellers with a small suitcase. Each traveller appears to be suspended but is actually a single piece that is moulded in such a way that it confuses the mind as it appears to be floating in mid-air.

What came first: the architectural design or the art collection?

The architectural design by Greg Wright came first, but the art collection was built as Sea Lion came together and we knew what the spaces were likely to look like when completed.

The architecture and art of this home are utterly synchronous

Which paintings sparked the interior colour scheme?

The interior theme of the house was primarily a function of the two dominant art pieces on either side of the glass fireplace, which were acquired before the house was completed. We are big fans of figurative art, and the large paint-on-canvas pieces by Nelson Makamo (‘Love is Conditional’, one of the few Makamos using paint) and Kilmany-Jo Liversage (‘Yula’, the portrait above the fireplace) are both captivating and powerful.

We are a big fans of figurative art, and these large paint-on-canvas pieces are captivating and powerful
‘Love is Conditional’ by Nelson Makamo

Tell us about ‘Return of the Legend’.

The upside-down red man is a solid 75kg steel piece by Uwe Pffaf, a German artist based in Cape Town. It’s matched by a blue steel artwork just inside the front glass door, called ‘Separation Blues’.

And the pop-art in the guest bedrooms?

‘Chanel Bananas’ and ‘Hermès Ami’ (and the Dom Pérignon in the wine cellar) are pop-art pieces by an English artist called Campbell la Pun who lives in Tokyo. All three pieces are painted on board using spray cans and were individually commissioned to match the rooms in which they were placed.

Do you have a personal favourite?

It’s a bronze Doggy John called ‘Blue Marine’ (painted to look like a ceramic artwork) by French artist Julien Marinetti. We have ‘Pink Tornado’ in Zürich and ‘Bloody Mary’ in London – some of the many pieces that we have collected by similar artists and have in our various homes in Cape Town (Sea Lion), Zürich, London and India that make us feel more ‘at home’ when we visit.

Our other favourites are ‘Co-presence’ (Apollo and Dionysus) by Angus Taylor in the water feature next to the living room and ‘Faith II’ by Anton Smit, our newest acquisition placed at the pool edge. I am also quite partial to the Lisette Forsyth piece above the barbecue that matches the Thomas Heatherwick purple Spin chairs (also displayed just outside the Zeitz MOCCA, where Heatherwick was the architect).

‘Co-presence’ by Angus Taylor is perfectly at home in the water feature

Please tell us more about Charlotte Gerrard.

Charlotte is an English artist specialising in painting Indian cows in an Indian theme. We started with an original canvas called ‘Happy Holidays’ in our London home and then commissioned a specific piece for Cape Town:  we asked her to paint ‘Swiss Cows’ to reflect our association with Zürich. The colour theme was specific to match with our Moroccan urns in the space.

Any advice for guests visiting Cape Town? Favourite galleries or artists’ studios?

Don’t miss the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, held in February each year!

Book Sea Lion or read more about this beautiful architectural villa here.

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