Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'Restless Objects Now At Rest"

I love these beautiful works by the artist Kirsten Hassenfeld.

They have a purity of being that feels somehow like sacred art. 

Perhaps there is something in the history of a found object that makes it vibrate in a different way.

After many years of working with paper, the artist felt drawn to the unpredictable nature of found objects as raw material. Her connection to the environment and the natural world also encouraged that leaning.

That which is unwanted, that has outlived its useful life is given restoration here as part of a glorious whole.

xxx elle



We drove through the old farm gates of halfaampieskraal with a feeling of unbridled excitement.

It was just as Skye had described; the vast wheat and canola fields lay like faded sheets hung out to dry in the midday sun, and a party of white geese minced across the dust road, as if they had timed our welcome.


Cows surveyed our passage with a bored resignation, and weaver birds flicked by carrying fresh reeds for their nests. We had that lovely sense of knowing when the days ahead seem filled with endless possibility.

Jan-Georg Solms, owner of Halfaampies exudes nobility. This comes from being part of an Afrikaaner dynasty that goes back many generations in the farming community of Napier.


When weekend guests began to outnumber available accommodation in the manor house, Jan-Georg and his life-partner Cobus Geldenhuys transformed the old farm schoolhouse into a cluster of glorious en suite bedrooms.


They offer a romantic refuge for visitors overwhelmed by too much fresh farm air,and food from the manor house kitchen.

An unexpected lunch prepared by Zoe, the beautiful young chef, is one of those meals I will always remember. Farm boerewors alongside greens fresh from the garden, thick slabs of white farm butter and artisan bread served with Danish feta and plump red minted tomatoes.

I can't begin to describe the loveliness of sitting out on the stoep overlooking the bleached wheat fields, with lunch presented to us on large vintage platters. The addition of music, laughter and beloved friends made it unforgettable.


You cannot help but fall in love with Halfaampieskraal, so much so, that by the time Cobus looking for all the world like a Mills and Boon hero, finally walked through the kitchen door I was hard pressed not to fling myself into his arms.

Ok, fine, I did fling myself into his arms but such is the spell of Halfaampies that impulsive acts of adoration are quite understandable!

Later, after drinks by the pool, a walk along winding country roads and a visit to the resident farm animals we retire to our respective boudoirs and await the summons of the slave bell.

When it tolls and we make our way over to the dining-room, nothing prepares us for the dramatic splendour of the music, candles and flowers that await us.

A waterblommetjie risotto starter is followed by individually prepared lamb pies, accompanied by huge platters of roasted veg and fresh salad. The chocolate fondant desert is enough to make a grown man cry! For more!

Times seems to pass with an unfamiliar fullness at halfaampieskraal.

Each moment seems plump with life. 

In the end it is The Farmer, The 'Greek' and The Chef  seen here with an adoring Cath, who will steal your heart.

xxx elle

Monday, October 25, 2010

artful display

There is some art that prospers in solitude.

It prefers a quiet moment alone, above a fireplace or imposingly placed beneath a light source all the better to signify its artful import.

It may be a work of such beauty that it is best viewed alone, where it can be savoured and appreciated without distraction.

Sometimes, it is simply the work of some dreadfully expensive artiste, whose owner feels compelled to draw an undivided attention to it...

And then there is art that benefits from community.

Often growing in beauty through contrast and juxtaposition.

Like people, art is often happiest in a collective where diversity and companionship make it all the more lovely!

These fine collections are a case in point. There is such harmony and balance in their artful display, that any other hanging would seem to impoverish them.

I have found that by first assembling a collection of art on the floor, and paying careful attention to colour, contrast and form, a display that is pleasing to the eye is more readily achieved.

Whether leaning casually in a group, or thoughtfully spanning an entire wall art can become the sublime centre of a beautiful room.

At Halfaampieskraal vintage finds form a growing community that enriches and enchants with each viewing.

xxx elle

Saturday, October 2, 2010


First there was Fredrique Morrel to obsess about, and now there's Squint.

These heavenly concoctions are made using woven English damasks,  shot silver and gold satins. Then they're embellished with swarovski crystals and French trimmings from the 18th and 19th Century!

I've just finished reading about Sao Schlumberger in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

Her apartment designed by Gabhan O' Keefe shocked Parisian society with it's OTT fantasy interiors, not befitting the ultimate of the 'Haute Societe Protestante'

Alice in Wonderland would be proud.

Back home, the effortlessly stylish Adam Whiteman will conjour up a patchwork of vintage tapestries on anything you care to sit on.

Or you can just pay a visit to 178 Shoredith High Street, London for a closer look.

xxx elle

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

David Whyte
from Songs for Coming Home
Painting by Margerita Georgiades

xxx elle