In a town bursting with artists competition to be selected to participate in Solo Studios’ main event is stiff.


In Riebeek-Kasteel locals are either growing olives or making art. Or both; some of the 100 odd artists living in this Swartland hamlet grow and press their olives albeit in small quantities, according to Olive Boutique, which processes oil for the small artisanal producers in the area.

At the end of August, however, Capetonians and art lovers from around the country won’t be gravitating to Riebeek Valley to sample olive oil made by artists, but to dip into and soak up the art in gallery exhibitions and a select number of studios belonging to the town’s more serious artists in the annual Solo Studios event.

Riebeek Kasteel

For three days ticketholders will be able to wander into the selected artists’ studios. There isn’t a better way to experience art than view it where it was made, in the context of other works, surrounded by preparation drawings, tools, and snippets of inspiration and to have the artist on hand to answer questions about their motivations and process. It works at demystifying artmaking and connects artists directly to collectors.

“It is enriching for people to see what happens behind the scenes. It is a completely different experience than going to a gallery. I love going into other artists’ studios,” observes Jacky Lloyd one of this year’s participating artists.

Riebeek-Kasteel resident Klaus Piprek founded the event in 2016 in response to calls from the community to make the town’s art population and production more visible, but he was also keen to forge connections between the artists.
“I was surprised to learn that so few of the artists knew of each other,” recalls Piprek.

Participating artist Tamlin Blake confirms this to have been the case.
“The art community here is a bit fragmented. So many of the artists moved to the valley because they are hermits,” says Blake.

Despite the retiring nature of some of the artists, Solo Studios received around 40 applications to participate this year. This might have something to do with the discerning and new art collectors that the event appears to attract.
“The buyers are very competitive,” observes Lloyd who has participated as a guide in a previous iteration. The guided tours, which are offered with a Premier Weekend Pass to the event – modestly priced at R395 – are the highlight of Solo Studios, as they allow buyers to browse at their leisure. The preview of works on Friday is popular for those who wish to lay their hands on the “better works,” which go quickly, according to Lloyd.

In a town bursting with artists, competition to be selected to participate in the main event is stiff. To retain the local ethos of Solo Studios; artists can only apply to participate if they live in Riebeek-Kasteel and are full-time artists. A different local art aficionado is appointed annually to assess the applications and select those that are certain to deliver a high-quality art encounter for visitors. Piprek is intent on maintaining a high-standard art event that stands apart from those held in other small Western Cape towns.

Among the 18 artists who were able to meet the criteria is Blake, who will use her studio to explore ideas about NFTs, however visitors can also view a new tapestry work in the making which is part of a series exploring the history of some of the woven textiles – think crochet blankets – she has inherited. Emma Willemse, who recently staged an impressive solo exhibition at Union House in Cape Town will once again open her studio to ticketholders. This deeply cerebral artist’s work, often sculptural pieces made from disused floorboards evokes, time, history and nostalgia.

Lloyd is participating for the first time. Her extraordinary ‘boats’ fashioned from marble were recently exhibited in a solo exhibition in Stellenbosch. There is no other artist in this country who chisels their own marble sculptures – or relief fragments. Each of the participating artists boast such different aesthetics. Louis Nel with his atmospheric seascape oil paintings, Tanya Majo, who plots the natural world through collage and Ade Kipades’ bold flat coloured abstract works inspired by the Le Corbusier’s architectural lines combined with a Disney cartoon mode of representation. They are undoubtedly appealing but he is threatening to show some new works in a more fluid abstract mode, rendered in a muted palette.

Other artists who will bravely fling open the doors of their studios include Andre Francois van Vuuren, Andries Dirks, Greta Mcmahon, Kevan Moses, Lizette Visser, Sharon Bischoff and Wiehan de Jager.

Ade Kipades | polygon pulsation,2021 -Acrylic on incised mdf, 60x80cm

There are many other art-related events on offer; from 10 gallery exhibitions to thought-leadership talks, a film premiere of a feature on land artist Strijdom van der Merwe titled Sculpting this Earth and House Union Hub will present a curated exhibition.

With pop-up restaurants adding to the culinary offerings which include wine farm and olive farm tastings and dining it is not surprising that most visitors opt to stay for the weekend. As there are limited tickets and accommodation options visitors have learned to book in advance.

It is well-established the wine and art make for good companions but so too does an abundance of olives and art.

• Solo Studios runs in the Riebeek Valley from August 26 to 28th. Visit to book your tickets and weekend package. Premier Weekend Pass – R395.00. Friday Preview Pass – 195.00. Weekend Pass – R295.00. Saturday Pass – 195.00. Sunday Pass – R150.00.


Louis Nel | Oil on Canvas, 50x35cm


Jacky Lloyd | Tapestry Weaver Tamlin Blake, 2022 -Marble bas relief, 410x180x43


Tamlin Blake | Jump The Gun, 2022 – Newspaper Tapestry, 160x84cm


Emma Willemse | Last remains I, 2022 -Digital collage printed on Hahnemühle , 39x30cm

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