Collectors Lizelle and Frank Kilbourn have over the past three decades amassed a remarkable treasure trove of works by South African women artists, a selection of which will be on view at Welgemeend, a historic manor house in central Cape Town for the duration of August 2018.

The exhibition Shifting Boundaries: A Selection of Works showcasing South African Women Artists of the Past 100 Years features 98 works by 67 artists, exclusively drawn from the Kilbourn Collection. The selection covers works in a range of media. Among the highlights are many arresting portraits of women by women, notably by Georgina Gratrix, Maggie Laubser, Mary Sibande and Irma Stern.

This timely showcase of women artists forms the nucleus of an energetic programme of events and talks at Welgemeend throughout August. The month-long programme of events includes a masterclass talk led by respected painter Penny Siopis (4 August), who will focus on colour, materiality and process in her recent work. Art enthusiasts will also be able to hear collector Lizelle Kilbourn talk about art appreciation and collecting with art critic Amanda Botha (18 August).

Strauss & Co senior specialist Wilhelm van Rensburg will present a masterclass on Irma Stern’s still lifes (2 August). Van Rensburg recently curated the exhibition Life Force: The Still Lifes of Irma Stern as part of Strauss & Co’s participation in the 2018 RMB Turbine Art Fair. This showcase of 17 Stern still lifes was the biggest public exhibition of this aspect of Stern’s output since 2003. Visitors will be able to consider Stern’s gouache Still Life with Poppies and Fruit (1935) before and after the talk.

August Art Month is the brainchild of collector Frank Kilbourn and auctioneer Stephan Welz, Strauss & Co’s founding director who passed away in 2015. The initiative aims to shore up support for Welgemeend, a historic home built on the slopes of Table Valley in 1693. Declared a national monument in 1944, Welgemeend is owned and managed by Jan van Riebeeck Hoërskool, in collaboration with the Friends of Welgemeend. This volunteer organisation ensures the preservation of the home and its historic collection of earlier 20th-century masterpieces formerly owned by Afrikaans poet and scholar Izak Wilhelmus “Boerneef” van der Merwe (1897–1967).

In an effort to drum up support for this initiative, the Kilbourns have every year excerpted works from their extensive collection of art for public display during Art Month at Welgemeend. The focus of Shifting Boundaries, this year’s exhibition, draws attention to the diverse and pioneering contributions by women artists to the South African canon.

The selection of highlights shows how successive generations of women artists have been at the vanguard of South African art. It covers three pivotal periods from the last century and includes work by pioneer modernists like Cecil Higgs, Maggie Laubser and Irma Stern, mid-century trailblazers Nel Erasmus, Esther Mahlangu and Cecily Sash, and respected contemporary artists Jane Alexander, Deborah Bell, Marlene Dumas, Helen Sebidi, Diane Victor and Mary Sibande.

The exhibition also includes sculptures by Beth Armstrong, Wilma Cruise, Lorraine Edelstein, Noria Mabasa and Rina Stutzer, and photographs by Nandipha Mntambo, Thania Petersen, Mary Sibande and Sue Williamson, whose important photo installation A Tale of Two Cradocks (1994) is one of a number of highlights.

Other noteworthy individual works going on show include an enigmatic marine scene in oil, Seaweed (1964) by Cecil Higgs, one of five works by this New Group member. Laubser and Stern will each have six works on view; most of them are portraits of women, including Stern’s Woman in the Kitchen (1941), which depicts an elderly woman in a headscarf appraising the painter askance.

Shifting Boundaries also gathers work by four members of the Everard Group of painters: Eleanor Esmonde-White, Bertha Everard, Ruth Everard-Haden and Edith King. Writing in 2016, art historian Marion Arnold noted how artists like Bertha Everard, along with Laubser and Stern, “took the initiative in creating and exhibiting progressive painting” in a chauvinist society.

Art Month at Welgemeend is a collaboration between the Friends of Welgemeend, Strauss & Co, Delaire Graff, Frank and Lizelle Kilbourn and others, with the support of Jan van Riebeeck Hoërskool. This important winter cultural event kicks off on 1 August with a fundraising gala dinner. Please consult the programme for a detailed schedule of events.

Full Program

Strauss & Co Masterclass
Life forces: The still lifes of Irma Stern

The exhibition, Life Force: The Still-Lifes of Irma Stern, at the 2018 Turbine Art Fair forms part of the strategic objectives of Strauss & Co, which emphasize not only facilitating public access to the arts, but also the importance of educational outreach. Conducted by Wilhelm van Rensburg on Thursday 2 August.

Strauss & Co Masterclass
Colour, Materiality & Process

Penny Siopis will be discussing the interesting topic of Colour, Materiality and Process in her work as a painter in our Strauss & Co Masterclass on Saturday 4 August.

Classical Music Concert
performed by Liza & Gerhard Joubert

Mother and son will be performing solo pieces from composers Bach, Haydn, Schubert, Chopin and duets from Brahms and Arnold van Wyk on Sunday 5 August.

Women’s day festival
9 August 2018

Art journalist, Amanda Botha in conversation with heart surgeon, Dr Susan Vosloo. Lunch and musical performance by Luna Paige and Simangele Mashazi.

Cocktail and Walkabout
16 August 2018

After a long days work come and enjoy a glass of wine…or two, with delicious snacks and an informal discussion by Frank Kilbourn of the exhibition. Wander through the Welgemeend Manor House while being inspired by the works of art from South African women artist of the past 100 years.

Strauss & Co Masterclass
A short course on Art Appreciation

Amanda Botha (Art Journalist) and Lizelle Kilbourn will present a short course in art appreciation on Saturday 18 August, at Welgemeend. It is aimed at beginners and intended to make enjoyment and understanding of works of art (paintings, sculptures, etc) more accessible to those with no academic background in art or art history.

Strauss & Co Masterclass
Auction mechanics

Behind the scenes at Strauss & Co by Bina Genovese and Vanessa Phillips, Joint Managing Directors.