Things To Do in RiversdaleJulius Gordon Africana Centre
Where? Long Street, Riversdale, 6670, Garden Route
When? Monday to Friday from 10h00 to 15h00.
Saturdays from 10h00 to 12h00.
Prior notice of a group visit is essential.
How? Call +27 (0)28 713-7939
How much? Free to browse
The history and culture of a country is often relayed through art. Whether it is the cave paintings of thousands of years ago, the colonial renditions of the South Africa of the 19th century, or modern pieces that portray the colourful vibe that now characterises our country, art is an important part of preserving the identity and telling the story of the land.
The Julius Gordon African Centre, also known as Versfeld House, plays an integral role in celebrating the work of local and acclaimed artists and in exhibiting the beauty and context of this multi-faceted country. It occupies a Riversdale building that dates back to 1880 and is proud to have South Africaís largest collection of Thomas Bowler pieces. Although Bowler was a British artist, he lived at the Cape of Good Hope, and produced many beautiful pieces that portrayed the Cape Town of yesteryear and its surrounds.
However, there are other artists that are featured in the permanent exhibition, some of which come from Riversdale itself. Some of the familiar names are Jan Volschenk, Johannes Meintjes, Irma Stern (an internationally renowned South African artist), Jacobus Pierneef (famous for his landscapes), Maggie Loubser (who is considered to have introduced Expressionism to the country with the aid of Irma Stern), and Gregoire Boonzaier, amongst others.
In addition to these artists, the simplicity and beauty of the Khoisan rock art and the stone tools produced by these hunter-gatherers is also on display at the Julius Gordon Africana Centre. These stone artefacts are believed to date back tens of thousands of years, piquing the interest and imagination of young and old alike, and providing insights into how ancient man lived off the land.
Riversdale is perched along the N2 highway, and is en route to and from Cape Town. It is an agricultural town with a number of historically charming buildings.