Heleen de Haas.

No, I had no idea either. I was thinking about what ‘Open Studios’ really is. What do we want to offer our visitors? How do we want them to feel? What we want is for them to be completely blown away, to take a step out of their everyday lives, often busy and frenetic, into another reality. Our reality. The term “immersive experience” came to mind.


And so, I did some research on an immersive experience and came to realise that an immersive CX – meaning Customer Experience – is a whole new(ish) world. It is multisensory, encompasses virtual reality technology, headsets, etc. It was a way in the circumscribed Covid world to escape the lockdown, and it is changing everything – especially retail. It speaks of the customer journey, of interface, of different realities creating customer satisfaction. Emotional connection is key (I even read an article about “the sandpit of the mind” – yes really!).

Well, let’s dial it back a little. Let’s get real in a Karoo way. Let’s talk about the journey. Yes, to get to Prince Albert you must make a journey, you must traverse seemingly endless, seemingly empty veld; you must pack your warmest woollies or biggest hat (depending on the season) and your walking shoes, bikes, binoculars, books, best wines and braai tjops. (On second thoughts, you can get the wine and tjops here). Get here and take a deep breath.

Let’s talk about interface. Open Studios offers connection with the artists in their own workspace. For most artists the place they think, work, and create is sacrosanct, very personal and often private. Here you have a chance to dip into that space, connect with them face to face, understand processes and thoughts, ask questions. Any purchase is layered with meaning, more nuanced. There’s that emotional connection.

What about different realities? What Prince Albert offers is a real reality, as opposed to a virtual reality. Here there are kilometers of open space, endless vistas of ridge after ridge of mountains, soaring cathedrals of rock, extraordinary plants and places to explore.

Immerse yourself. Sit with your feet in the running waters of the Leiwater channels or dabble in the pools at Eerste Water in the Swartberg Pass, a marvel of 19th century engineering and a World Heritage site. Delve into history. Go walking on the koppie. Take a bottle of wine and a fold up chair and park off at that special spot to watch the moon rise (the locals will tell you where). Look close up at plants, study a tortoise. Examine your own life. Lose yourself for a while in the silence, the purity of the air, the simplicity. Walk the quiet streets.

Who knows, you might never leave. (If so, you wouldn’t be the first, and probably not the last). After all, Socrates supposedly said – An unexamined life isn’t worth living. And an Immersive CX? – actually it’s got nothing to do with Prince Albert Open Studios.

Prince Albert Open Studios runs from Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th November.

Group Exhibition Opening at Prince Albert Gallery – Wednesday 23rd November, 6pm.
Disciplines include painting, print-making, photography, jewellery design, botanical art, ceramics, sculpture, embroidery, thread art, weaving, metal art, calligraphy, land art, steampunk, found objects, assemblage.

Participating Artists: Annamarie Stone; Collette Hurt; Di Smith; Di van der Riet Steyn; Erika van Zyl; Heleen de Haas; Joshua Miles; Kevin de Klerk; Maruanda Wynne; Mary Anne Botha; PACT with Louise Schoeman, Elcado Blom, Knipoog Media, Jeffery Armoed, Lapland Ladies; Pat Hyland; Prince Albert Gallery with Di Johnson Ackerman and guest Zak Conradie; Renee Calitz; Sally Arnold with guest Phillip Willem Badenhorst; Sonja Fourie; Sue Hoppe with guest Wehrner Lemmer; Sue Savage with Deidre Maree.

For more info visit:
Email: info@princealbertopenstudios.co.za
Facebook: Prince Albert Open Studios
Instagram: @prince_albert_open_studios
Please book accommodation early at: www.princealbert.org.za or www.princealbertaccomm.co.za



Erika van Zyl by Annmarie Stone


Maruanda Wynne


Maruanda Wynne


Joshua Miles


Sue Hoppe cyanotype – That Karoo Feeling


Sue Hoppe encaustic on board


Collette Hurt



Dianne Johnson-Ackerman


Di van der Riet Steyn


Di Smith – The Migrants


Deidre Maree Sunset at Skaapies Einde


Deidre Maree Karoo House,


Sue Savage


Textile art by Renee Calitz



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