Gauteng Tourist AttractionsNirox Sculpture Park
Where? 24 Kromdraai Road, Kromdraai, Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng.
How? Call +27 (0)82 854-6963
North west of Johannesburg is an area known as the Cradle of Humankind. It's a newsworthy area not least for the recent release of data based on two Australopithecus sediba fossils discovered in the area. The science postulates, rather cautiously, that the skeletons are 'a possible missing link in the development of the human species'.
In 2008 palaeontologist Lee Berger and his son discovered the skeletons whilst on a field trip. It seems that their bodies were trapped in a cave and their bones preserved over millennia. This data adds further weight to The Cradle's famous role in evolution.
Only a few kilometres away, on a 15 hectare reserve that was once a commercial trout farm, and is now a game farm, is the Nirox Sculpture Park. Not all that well known, it seems the reserve is something of a Jo'burg 'secret'.
In essence it is exactly what it says it is – sculptures in a park. An effortless blend of formal garden, complete with lawns and lakes, within a wider veld landscape. In amongst the gardens are the sculptures of artists, most of them one-time residents on the farm.
The Nirox Foundation offers an international artists residency programme.
It's offering is twofold – artists gain insight, and access, to the environmental and cultural heritage, including interaction with palaeontologists, geoscientists and speleologists in the area, as well as exposure to local artists, scientists, institutions and communities.
The artists, in turn, focus on the region; their only obligation to leave an artwork for the foundation's collection.
Nirox collaborates with local museums, galleries and academic institutions and has built good relationships with curators. Hundreds of artists from around the world have made use of the residency programme.
The art that is not randomly exhibited within the reserve's gardens is on view, by appointment, at UNBOXED in the Maboneng precinct, Johannesburg.
Some of the artworks in the reserve are permanent, including works by Richard Long, Willem Boshoff, Caroline Bittermann, Valerio Berruti, Rebecca Chesney, Pryanka Coudhari, Rosenclare and Thomas Mulcaire.
The park continuously hosts exhibitions, but one needs to keep a close eye on their website, or join their mailing list, to find out more. There are also regular concerts at the lawn amphitheatre, seating 1 000 people, overlooking a two-tier lawn stage across a little river.
You can only visit the artists in residence by appointment with the artists themselves, and the sculpture park is open to the public only during exhibitions (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, between 10am and 4pm).