An artists' escape in Baardskeerdersbos

2016-10-02 08:32 - Louzel Lombard
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Be honest - have you ever heard of Baardskeerdersbos, or Baardies, as the locals refer to it?

Few towns in South Africa are as arty and secluded as Baardskeerdersbos. 

The hide falls into the same category as Nieu-Bethesda or Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, Greyton in the Overberg, Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga, Clarens in the Free State and Nottingham Road in the KZN Midlands. 

But it's even smaller, quieter and artier.  And it comprises almost 100% of practising artists - whether it be painting, sketching, sculpting or artisanal baking. 

The town also hosts the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route, an initiative which started by the reclusive artists' community to bring attention to their work, especially from outside visitors. 

They exhibit twice a year during Autumn and Spring when the Strandveld landscape is at its most striking, veld flowers have begun to bloom and the iridescent green fields of pre-industrial farmlands glow with life. 

A photo posted by JMVH (@johmari1976) on

Artists present solo bodies of work and throw open their home studios to the public on Saturday and Sunday 1 and 2 October from 10:00 to 17:00. It's a rare opportunity to meet the typically more reclusive artists, and to understand the artistic process in a social setting.

The first weekend of October 2016 also coincides with the nearby and ever-popular Hermanus Whale Festival. If you'd like a breakaway from busy Hermanus, consider checking out B'bos while the action is abundant, relatively speaking. 

The weekends draw between 200-300 visitors per day, with most starting at the B'bos Art Gallery on the Main Road, and then dispersing to the various artists on the route.

Where to go and what to do 

Break - or bake - bread 

While viewing arts is one thing, getting involved in the process is another experience altogether. 

The Sourdough Bread Making Experience hosted by Niël Jonker is a fun yet thorough workshop that emphasises the benefits of slow fermentation, whole grain ingredients and process consciousness.

During these two-day workshops, an advanced understanding of bread-making core principles is covered while apprenticing in a fully functional artisan bake house. A gluten-free element is also included in the workshop. 

Visitors get step-by-step explanations of all one needs to know is learnt with a glass of wine in hand, while novices and experienced bakers are catered for equally.

A photo posted by Chrizanda (@chrizandavw) on

The next bread-baking workshops will be taking place on Thursday and Friday 29, 30 September, Thursday and Friday 27, 28 October, Thursday and Friday 24, 25 November. Group bookings with alternative dates are welcomed.

There is limited space per workshop, and the rate is R1 800.

Niël offers limited, free accommodation on these weekends. Email him for more info or to book.   

Visit the artists in their homes during the B'bos Art Route weekends

Niël is also a bronze sculptor and painter. For the upcoming B'bos Art Route, he will be exhibiting landscape painting completed on a recent trip to Namibia. 

He also recently painted a series of wine labels of the Overberg landscape for Gabrielskloof wines. These will be exhibited at Gabrielskloof at his end of year summer exhibition from December 2016 through January 2017.

Other artists in residence include Coleen Emennis, Kali and Daniel Griffin, Philip John, Joshua Miles, jeweller Brenda Parker, Ivan Trollip, Kali van der Merwe, and Jan Vingerhoets.

The artists are all well-establish and renowned, working with various media that often incorporates nature and the beautiful natural surrounds. 

A photo posted by JMVH (@johmari1976) on

One of the artists in the area, Ivan Trollip, is also the owner of the Baardskeerdersbos Art Gallery in the Main Street of B'bos- a must-visit in the area. 

Check out the secret beaches in the area 

Beach-lovers who loath crowds know to avoid places like Camps Bay beach, Umhlanga and J-Bay over the busier beach season – even if it means driving to the most secluded hides to find that solitude spot. 

While the Overberg is a pretty popular beach destination - think Hermanus, Struisbaai and Onrus - there are places to go that are still relatively undiscovered. 

Check out: 7 Secret beaches in the Overberg

A photo posted by Yve Oosthuizen (@skilliey1) on

Eat local 

Since the town is so small, all good meals are served at the handful of local pubs that are within walking distance from one another. 

Baardskeerdersbos'  Strandveld Pub is the spot for a beer, while Marietjies Pub & Grill  is a must for breakfast - if you're after some real boere-ontbyt after a night of drinking too much red wine... 

For the Art Route weekend, a pop-up restaurant at the popular Lokal in B'bos featuring chef Suzi Hotzhausen from Gaatjie Salt Water Restaurant in Paternoster will be providing slow-cooked meals created from local ingredients. Don't miss out on the goodness! 

Just 30 minutes from Baardskeerdersbos, the Stanford Saturday Morning Market is the place to be. 

From bakes, preserves,flowers, herbs, fresh vegetables and honey and many more seasonal goodies, the market offers a little bit of everything that passionate green-fingered Stanford locals have to offer. 

Where to stay 

Doornbosch Country Cottages - check availability here

Doornbosch Country Cottages is set on a 5000 ha working farm surrounded by a tranquil mountain scenery. Located midway on the road from Napier to Gansbaai, the accommodation is 11 km from the village Elim.

The units at Doornbosch are uniquely styled with hand picked furniture and local interiors. Each house has a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, microwave, coffee makers and a patio with barbecue. Breakfast, lunch packets, private barbecues and an in-house chef can be ordered upon request.

A photo posted by Ed Ngoksin (@edngoksin) on

Farm 215 Private Nature Reserve - check availability here

Farm 215 Private Nature Reserve is situated in the Uilkraal Valley between Stanford and Cape Agulhas. This secluded retreat offers magnificent views over the Agulhas Plains towards the ocean.

The accommodation ranges from freestanding suites to rooms at the old homestead. The solar-powered suites have a wooden deck and floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors to enhance the panoramic views. The spacious rooms at the homestead come with a balcony and en-suite bathroom.

A photo posted by Tobias Tuleby (@tuleby) on

Getting there

Within two hours' drive from Cape Town, Baardskeerdersbos is accessible by tarred road via Gansbaai and Bredasdorp. 

Scenic gravel routes abound via wine farms and coastal land-based whale watching sites.

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