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Curator & Collector

Q&A

At Cape Town’s Heatherfield Manor, heritage architecture blends seamlessly with the owner’s contemporary art

If you’re coming to Cape Town, you couldn’t find a more authentic gem than Heatherfield Manor. We thought we’d give you some insight into the owner’s collection and recommend you stay a while…


When did you start collecting art?

In about 2005 (by accident, actually). When I visited a friend I saw that there was an art auction advertised in the foyer of a hotel in Bantry Bay. I saw a particular work by the artist Adriaan Boshoff (French Bistro Scene), which I really liked. I attended the auction hoping to buy it – I didn’t know anything about auctions at the time. I left with nine paintings: I could not stop! I spent my entire ‘first company bonus’ that morning. I still have all of the works I bought that day. I have also met wonderful friends over the years, who are or were avid collectors who guided me and from whom I have learned. I'm a good student.

Which is your favourite piece?

There are many favourites. I bought one many years ago at a gallery in Franschhoek by the wonderful artist Marié Stander called ‘Marietjie Gaan Skool Toe’. It hangs in one of the bedrooms. I always wondered what was going through Marietjie’s mind at that moment and where she would be today. I tracked Marié down after buying this work and commissioned a complementary piece, which she did of Marietjie’s mother. Both works hang in the same room. I also love the work at the top of the landing of the staircase at home called ‘The Protector’ by the artist Edith Bullen. Maybe because of where it hangs and also because of its name. Then the very large work by Johann Louw on the staircase. The large artwork in my study is by Diane Victor. A very special and early work by Lionel Smit in the dining room of the face of the young boy. A work by Walter Meyer reminding me of the Karoo. I am a big fan of the work of Jake Aikman. The paintings in the one bedroom by the popular and talented Georgina Gratrix! The very large work in one of the dressing rooms by Peter Eastman. The David Brown sculptures. The large work in the study is by Colbert Mashile.

Tell me more about the large painting in the entrance.

Mmmm, initially, it was not my first choice. A very good friend, collector and art expert, Johann C Porer, saw it at the Investec Art Fair in Cape Town and recommended that I buy it. It grew on me, and is an excellent conversation piece as it hangs in the absolute right spot – guests always stop at this work to discuss it. The artist is the very talented Alexa Karakashian.

And more about Matthew Hindley’s piece opposite the staircase?

I’ve always loved his work. I was looking for something colourful that could fill the entire wall and create conversation, which I do think this work succeeds in doing. Every time you walk past the work you notice something new in it.

Matthew Hindley's work in the stairwell is a real conversation starter

Tell us more about Nigel Mullins’s ‘Yuri Gagarin, First Human in Space, 2014’.  

I saw this work at the Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town and loved it.

'Yuri Gagarin' by Nigel Mullins in the living room

Tell us about the painting above the fireplace in the study.

It is by Kate Gottgens and is called ‘At the Airport’. It reminded me a lot of my own experiences. Because I travel a lot for work, I often sit at the airport wondering about the people I see there. I wanted the study painted dark and moody. It is also my clutter and memory room, with lots of things inherited, collected over the years or bought at auctions. I am an avid auction attendee and love walking to find shops with long-lost treasures! I also have a leather bag standing on an ottoman that my great grandfather made by hand in 1880, which has been passed down the generations. I have another Kate Gottgens in the dining room, which is a wonderful work I found at the SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch – it reminded me so much of our childhood in the Karoo and Free State.

The study is a mini gallery in itself at Heatherfield Manor: Kate Gottgens's 'At the Airport' sits above the fireplace and the large work is by Colbert Mashile

And what about the Ardmore?

I bought the Ardmore works many years ago at an exhibition at Groote Schuur. The process and the way they made it as explained to me at the time attracted me more than the name Ardmore, with which I was not familiar at the time. I was a very young man then. Since then I have become an avid follower of Ardmore and everything they do. The print of the young boy and dog behind it was found in a back room at an auction house. It was from previous auctions but did not sell. I was so excited with my find at that moment… it is not worth much, but still. I am known to walk into the back rooms of shops and auction houses that are not normally open to the public or on display.

Ardmore from an early exhibition, and a back-room find at an auction house

Who was the painting of your mother done by?

Mia Chaplin: a young and very talented artist! I discovered her before she got signed up by the galleries. There is a bright future ahead of her. We sent her two separate photos of my mother and the dogs, because in the original photo my mother was actually holding a friend’s dogs. Mia brilliantly combined the photo of my mother and my dogs into one. Animals are another big love in our lives!

And the bamboo wallpaper and the paintings in the breakfast room?

Those happened by accident, but it works. The breakfast room was a bit dull and I was looking for something to fill the room and make it a bit warmer. We looked through various wallpaper books but could not find anything we liked. We were about to give up when I saw this at the back of one book. In this room there is also a favourite work by the talented young Chris Denovan of a lady who worked close to his office in Woodstock; he followed a very clever technique, as well. Chris is a great friend of mine and another artist with a bright feature.  

The artworks in the breakfast room offset well against the surprisingly busy wallpaper
Chris Denovan's portrait of a woman in Woodstock

We love the conservatory makeover and the colours – what inspired you?

I wanted a room where I could drift off into another world! When guests arrive they tend to stop in this room and don’t want to move further. It's a wonderful space to have tea, read your book or newspaper and play board games. I also love orchids and absolutely everything grows in this room. The idea was to have a cluttered room filled with cane furnishings, colour, worn carpets, lots of books and plants. You can also hear the street noises from here, which adds to the pleasures of city living. Seeing that I was painting everything green at the time, this room had to be green as well.

The old-world conservatory overlooking the garden

Can you tell me about the paintings on the landing upstairs?

There is a work by Christiaan Diedericks; I like its name: ‘Mother – I cannot sleep at night’; another work by Marié Stander, the wonderful and soulful artist living in Jamestown, Stellenbosch; and the clock is a work I bought a long time ago by Stephen Inggs.

Christiaan Diedericks on the landing; Marié Stander's soulful portraiture in the bedroom

You seem to have a passion for historic homes – what do you love the most about this one?

The memories, the history, maybe? I like anything old with history and soul. I also like to look after and nurture things. You may also notice a lot of portraits with facial expressions all over the house, which is another favourite. Saying this, I still want to build a very modern home one day because I also enjoy and appreciate modern architecture and structure.

The gracious living room with one of the many portraits in the house: this one is by Craig Smith

And your favourite restaurants, within walking distance?

There are many and we always try to explore and experience them as they pop up in Kloof Street. Mana for breakfast! Liquorice and Lime for their cakes. Maharajah for their Indian food.  

To book, read more about Heatherfield Manor here.


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