In Search Of The Birds Of The Sea

A collaboration between fine artists and the Keiskamma Art Project, administered by Spier Art Trust

9 November 2023 – 31 January 2024

Spier Old Wine Cellar
Spier Wine Farm, R310, Stellenbosch

The new collaboration between Fine artists and the Keiskamma Art Project, administered by Spier Arts Trust, began when Tamlin Blake, who is also a mixed media artist, visited Keiskamma to work with embroiderers to produce an embroidered tapestry. Laying the foundations of what has become a valuable artistic partnership, Spier Arts Trust has since arranged for 4 other fine artists to visit Hamburg in the Eastern Cape to participate in similar artistic immersions. 

“We get to introduce artists to the embroidery studio, to explore a new medium and see unique artworks emerge from this collaboration, and then share these works beyond the Eastern Cape,” Blake explains. “And what’s exciting about this partnership is that all of the artists and embroiderers work differently. They all have different ideas and needs. But by sharing the process, beautiful art is created.”  

The embroiderers, artists and the community at Keiskamma bring their own stories and backgrounds to evolve initial ideas into something that is truly a collaboration, not just an illustration of the artist’s concept. 

In deciding on a title for the exhibition, Blake chose to adapt an isiXhosa proverb, ‘He goes in search of the birds of the sea’ to ‘In Search of the Birds of the Sea’ as it captures what it means to create art as a collective. To explore and seek adventure, to share and search, to aspire to something that is an ideal and, while potentially unattainable, a journey worth walking together.  

 And so, In Search of the Birds of the Sea, which runs from 9 November 2023 to 31 January 2024 at Spier’s Old Wine Cellar, reminds us of the power of collaboration, community and, most importantly, of art’s power to unite us. This exhibition is about broadening concepts of art, pushing artists out of their individual comfort zones to find new pleasure and purpose in a shared objective.

Featured artists include: 

Asanda Kupa who favours oil paint and found objects as his primary media; award-winning artist and author Henk Serfontein; visual messenger Nkosinathi Quwe who works primarily on canvas but also on fabric; photographer and multi-media artist Pippa HetheringtonRobyn Pretorius whose portraiture explores likeness, visual interpretation and storytelling;  and mixed media artist Tamlin Blake. 

Featured artworks

Emhlabeni ongcwele  
Ukubhala ngesandla/ handskrif/ handwriting
Emtonjeni: The Well of Hamburg’s Soul
Birds are the Timekeepers
Cuttings (1820 – 2020)
Interlaced – The Dress
Interlace Portraits