Summer Art Season in Full Swing


The Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) Image. Neil Geldenhuy

One of the most keenly anticipated art events on the Western Cape cultural calendar, Solo Studios – Intimate Art Encounters, is back this summer. Currently in its fifth edition, Solo Studios is traditionally held over the Women’s Day weekend at the beginning of August. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event had to be postponed and is now scheduled to take place over the weekend of 11-13 December.

The creative community of the Riebeek Valley, which encompasses the twin towns of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, took the opportunity during the months of lockdown to develop the concept of what has become known as Arts Town Riebeek Valley, an umbrella platform which unites initiatives and projects which create and develop products within the cultural tourism sector.
Arts Town Riebeek Valley is also breathing new life into the Performing Arts through the Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre’s Summer Theatre Season, the Olive Branch Project’s community performance initiatives and the return of First Fridays which has been expanded into a weekend long event of live productions, shopping and eating experiences.

Solo Studios – Intimate Art Encounters
17 Artists’ Studios
The core of Solo Studios has always been the studio artists, who once a year collectively open their studios to a limited number of art aficionados, collectors and investors. This not only provides the visitor with unique insights into the creative processes and inspirations of the artists, but also an opportunity to engage directly with the creators of their works and to purchase art ‘fresh off the easel’.
Every year a new application and selection process is followed to ensure both continuity and variety. The 2020 selected studio artists are: Anton Momberg, Sharon Bischoff, Tamlin Blake, Gordon Williams, Solly Smook, Claudia Gurwitz, Greta McMahon, Riaan van Zyl, Ade Kipades, Louisa Gerryts, Francois van Vuuren, Tanja Mayo, Emma Willemse, Jenny Parsons, Anthony Harris and Wiehan de Jager.
This year, an exciting emerging talent will be joining the acclaimed artists, some of whom have over fifty solo exhibitions under their belts. Sculptor Andries Dirks will be presenting his first solo clay sculpture exhibition, Klipkinders, which marks a formidable personal victory for him.

Born and raised in the Riebeek Valley, Andries left school in Standard Four to work on farms. Turbulent years followed, resulting in nearly fourteen years behind bars. It was art that finally set him free, thanks to rehabilitation programs. When he walked out of prison for the last time in 2005, it was with a firm grasp of pottery techniques and life skills.
Working with clay has always been a natural calling for Andries. As the only child on an isolated farm he made ‘friends’ from the clay in a ditch. Later he would skip school to play with clay in the veld.

Andries remembers a sense of reverence when his people talked about ‘klipkinders’ (referring to their Khoi ancestry), as if it added substance to their existence as so-called ‘coloureds’. The Khoi influence resonated with him throughout his years adrift, and now finds form in his art.
Andries’ participation in Solo Studios has in past years been on the periphery as part of social development initiatives or group exhibitions but, thanks to a generous benefactor, he is now working full-time as an artist in his studio with a kiln in the tourism hotspot of Short Street in Riebeek Kasteel.

Visitors to the studio of conceptual artist Emma Willemse

10 Galleries and Group Exhibitions
The three permanent galleries which have participated in every Solo Studios; Gallery Riebeek Kasteel, RK Contemporary and Pictorex Photographic Gallery, will this year be joined by another new Arts Town Riebeek Valley initiative, Gallery 7 on Plein. Located at the Riebeek Valley Tourism offices in Riebeek Kasteel, Gallery 7 is a platform for emerging talent and aspiring and non-professional artists to exhibit and sell their work. The opening was recently celebrated and the gallery’s participation in Solo Studios is keenly anticipated and welcomed.
A further six galleries and group exhibitions have been selected for participation: The Arteri, @ 17 Roos Creative Workspace, Swartland Photographic Club, The Hub, Q Studio and the Stone Circle Project.

Adries Dirks with a work from his solo exhibition Klipkinders


Studio Andre Francois van Vuuren

Peripheral Activities
Although the emphasis of Solo Studios has always been on artists and art investment, a range of peripheral activities has been developed over the years. Musicians, authors, poets, actors, directors and vintners create, produce or convene a range of high-end activities and events which complement the art.
As is the case with all Solos Studios content and product, 90% is local, created by Riebeek Valley residents, or residents of the immediately surrounding areas.

The Art of Wine
The Swartland has become internationally renowned for its new breed of “revolutionary” wine makers, who now occupy positions alongside the established traditional wine estates of the Riebeek Valley. Multi-award winning viticulturalists have recognized Solo Studios as a platform for wine connoisseurs and have participated keenly when invited to do so. In 2020 the event boasts arguably the finest line-up to date, with participation confirmed thus far by Andrea and Chris Mullineux of Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines and Adi Badenhorst of A.A.Badenhorst Family Wines. A few more marquee names in the industry are currently under consideration, as are a few of the new emerging stars of the Swartland winemakers.

Andrea and Chris Mullineux at The Art of Wine

Solo Kitchens
The popular Solo Kitchens returns this year, with social distancing elements in place. Instead of sit-down dinners at dining tables, some of the valley’s finest hosts and caterers will entertain visitors on their stoeps and in their gardens. Do not miss this unique evening of canapes paired with wines and hosted in partnership with some of the country’s top winemakers.

Studio Claudia Gurwitz

Performance Art
The Riebeek Valley is home to several performing arts practitioners, some of whom have been collaborating for some time on producing short innovative and cutting-edge performance pieces, two of which are being presented at Solo Studios.

Performance poet Donker Jonker debuts his latest one-man production at Solo Studios 2020. Last year his haunting exploration of depression, Kopkamer, was the talk of the event, this time he will be taking audiences back in time to when the Riebeek Valley was inhabited by the Khoi and San peoples. Vibrant fireside theatre in an intimate open-air setting. Directed by Mark Graham-Wilson.

The Harlequin’s Needle
Built around projections juxtaposed literally and figuratively with mirroring and monologue, the piece explores the notions of fear, alienation and sexual abuse and emancipation experienced by the queer community through evoking multiple emotional responses and interpretations which are mirrored back to the performer. Conceived by and starring Georick Veltman aka The Mirrosister. Directed by Mark Graham-Wilson.

Due to the nature of the event and the limited capacity of the artists’ intimate spaces, attendance at Solo Studios has always been restricted. This year numbers will be further limited as social distancing regulations are likely to still be in effect. Taking into account that most of the peripheral activities were sold out too in 2019, early booking is essential to avoid disappointment.
There are a variety of passes to Solo Studios, from Premier Weekend to Day Passes. All are available online to book now.
Tickets to the peripheral activities will be released as details are confirmed. These tickets will be made available for purchase to existing Pass Holders for a limited period before sales are opened to the public. Most peripheral activities are anticipated to sell out again this year, so attendees are advised to purchase their passes well in advance.
As accommodation is also likely to sell out, visitors are advised to book early on or any other online booking portal.

Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) Summer Season
Opened in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which shut down the performing arts industry world-wide, the open air ROYAL ARTS TOWN AMPHITHEATRE in the gardens of the iconic Royal Hotel in Riebeek Kasteel is one of the first live performance spaces in the country to start operating post lockdown.
Director of the amphitheatre, Mark Graham-Wilson, has put together a programme of ten professional theatre productions which make up the

RATA Summer Season.
The theatre opens officially on November 13 with the production of a new play written and directed by multi award winning Clare Stopford, Covid Moons. This will be followed by a children’s production, Stuppet Stories and Lynita Crofford’s acclaimed performance in An Audience with Miss Hobhouse.Over the Solo Studios weekend, RATA will present The Harlequin’s Needle and the last production of 2020 is Oom Schalk from the Heart, David Muller’s celebrated production of Herman Charles Bosman stories.
2021 productions, which will take the Summer Season through to its close at the end of April, include Roger Lucey in How to Build a House in the Mountains, Hannes van Wyk in Se Groete vir Ma, Godfrey Johnson’s Shadow of Brel and Marc Conc Colli’s Conc the Karoo Clown. Negotiations are in progress to bring in other plays and opera productions.
For more information and to book tickets go to

*Solo Studios – Intimate Art Encounters and Arts Town Riebeek Valley are proudly partnered with and generously supported by Art Times, Business and Art South Africa (BASA), Wesgro and The Royal Hotel Riebeek Kasteel.

The Arteri presents The Uncouth Youth.