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Curator & Collector


Living with art: Veronique Savigne chats to us about her collection

Veroniques newest apartment in Bantry Bay, Cape Town, is her personal gallery for artists she cannot resist collecting. The result is light, bright and truly evocative.

Tell us about Sthenjwa Luthuli’s work.

‘Cursed Benefits’, from What if the World, was the first work I bought for the apartment – and indeed the first woodcarving I’ve ever purchased. I was a gymnast, so related instantly to the movement. I also love the texture, and the work has been meticulously carved to give it depth. Another theme in the art studio is the use of bright colours. I was inspired to make this work the focal point of the room. Born in KwaZulu-Natal, Luthuli works mainly in carved wooden reliefs and woodcut prints. I’ve found that your choice of art changes as you develop as a person. Mine certainly has – I had a strong emotional attraction to this work.

‘Cursed Benefits’ by Sthenjwa Luthuli (left)

What draws you to Allwright’s works in the main bedroom?

The ink drawings by Barrydale artist, Stephen Allwright, are whimsical and poignant but also irreverent and playful. Particularly striking is ‘Headdress and Faint Mouth’, in watercolour, ink and pencil on paper. The two above the bed are ‘The Virgin Tipsy’ and ‘The Leopard’.

‘The Virgin Tipsy’ and ‘The Leopard’ by Stephen Allright

And your extensive collection by Murray?

John Murray has been a favourite artist of mine for many years. I have his collages – love them as they fit any space – his portraits, and his abstract works. I just love their textured, colourful-yet-muted colours. I have to stop myself from buying him as I could literally buy all his work from What if the World! Just below Murray’s collages and above the television, I have two Gregory Olympio portraits (‘Femme Fond Rouge’ and ‘Sans Titre (Homme Souple’), both from Blank gallery. They are small but eye-catching.  

Gregory Olympio portraits ‘Femme Fond Rouge’ and ‘Sans Titre' Homme Souple (left) and John Murray (right)

And the two colourful oils in the second bedroom?

These are both by a very exciting young female artist, Nadeeha Mohamed, from What if the World. I believe she is going to be well received around the world, and I especially like to support women artists. ‘Laughter and Tears, a Pair of Parentheses’ (the teacup) and ‘Maybe We Will Wake Up Singing’ are both recent works in oil on canvas.

‘Maybe We Will Wake Up Singing’ (left) and ‘Laughter and Tears, a Pair of Parentheses’ (right), both by Nadeeha Mohamed

You enjoy an eclectic mix of mediums. Tell us more.

I have, historically, liked thick oil brush strokes and mainly figurative work. But over the years, my taste has developed and widened to include other mediums and abstract work. I’ve always loved texture and fabrics, like the woven fabric installation hanging over the kitchen, which is an Igshaan Adams’s ‘Stam’ from Blank Projects and Athi-Patra Ruga’s ‘Exile is When We Forget’, a tapestry near the central island.

Tell us about ‘Bunch of Bananas’ by Michael Taylor at the front door?

This Capetonian is another young, happy, fun artist. I love his loose brush strokes, especially in this bright yellow piece. He has a playful irreverence, which I enjoy. I’ve also got ‘Last One Standing’ hanging on the back of my front door.

‘Last One Standing’ by Michael Taylor hangs on the back of the front door

Any advice for aspirant collectors?

Buy what you love! Trust your emotions. Because if you feel a strong emotion, someone else will too. Don’t think about it too much. Trust what your internal world is telling you.

I’ve been collecting contemporary art for the past seven years and can see how, along the way, my eye for art has changed and got more sensitive. Art is a universal symbolic language, and anyone can speak that language if they have access to their emotions. Art is about psychology and emotion. It’s an expression of the artist’s inner world. I tend to buy strong work and even sometimes confronting work. I’m always interested to see the reactions to confrontational work. What I’m after is a strong emotional reaction – pleasant or unpleasant.

I often ask my children’s friends which artwork they don’t like. Kids are close to their emotions, so their answers are always very honest … and sometimes quite hilariously unedited, which is so refreshing.

How did you start your contemporary art collection?

I bought the Tom Cullberg, hanging above the mirror, from Elana Brundyn when she was running Brundyn Gallery in Cape Town. It was one of my first contemporary pieces.

How do you decorate with art?

I only ever live with high ceilings and always start with a bland canvas – all white walls – and then decorate with art and loose fabrics and textiles, such as Igshaan Adams. His work divides the room but also fills the height of room – then you see the height. If you’re lucky enough to have height, I think it makes sense to use it. 1 or 6

Igshaan Adams's woven fabric installation lifts the eye and makes full use of the volume of the interior space

Read more about Bantry Bay Art Studio here.

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