Dylan Lewis Studio and Sculpture Garden
On Tuesday, the 15 August, our Year 10-12 Art & Design students headed off early to Mulberry Farm in Stellenbosch where the Studio and Sculpture Garden of the artist, Dylan Lewis is situated. The area is a mix of tame and wild, with the artist having created a mystical garden that explores the Jungian notion of ‘the wilderness within’. The project was started in 2009 when Dylan began excavating and contouring the land, his ‘canvas’. There are 60 sculptures situated along the carefully considered four kilometres of path in the seven-hectare garden and the recommended hiking route about two kilometres, that conceals and reveals each work as one moves from one area to the next.
The outing was of particular interest to the group in terms of the prescribed Gallery/Studio visits – to take additional primary source photographs for Coursework, inspiration for the Externally Set Assignment and research (especially for those working on Personal Investigations – for their A levels) as well as the creation of sketches on site.
Dylan Lewis, born in 1964, hails from an artistic family, beginning his career as a painter, but later turned to sculpture, inspired by his father’s untimely death and love for sculpting the bird form. Widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost sculptors of the animal form, Dylan initially focused on the big cats; in recent years, he used the human figure to explore our relationship with our inner wilderness. His international career spans two decades and includes exhibitions in Paris, Sydney, Toronto, Houston and San Francisco, as well as exhibitions in London, where he is among the few living artists to have held solo auctions at Christie’s in London. Sculpture certainly seems to be in the forefront worldwide currently, and we were fortunate to see some of Dylan’s pieces being cast and finished at Strand Castings on our recent visit to them last term. We are extremely privileged to have access to a multitude of creatives and venues to explore and inspire in our very midst!
Our appetite was first wet by the amazing drawings, paintings and sculptures in the Old Studio. Individually armed with maps, we had a quick orientation session in the lounge area and then set off on our bracing, independent, early morning hike through the gardens – which should take approximately anything from forty five minutes to one and a half hours at a leisurely pace if reading up about the thirty nine areas of interest, stopping to take pictures and navigate the boulders whilst crossing the various streams. The area is divided into: Paintings, Birds, African Animals, Big Cats, Leopard fragments, Human Torsos, Early Female Figures, Shamanic Female Figures, Shamanic Male Figures, Monumental Fragments and Recent Sculptures.
It was a crisp, fresh, gusty morning and the wonderful green, earthy smell of indigenous vegetation (fynbos, buchu, ericas) and the dappled early morning light made it quite a magical experience as we approached each twist and bend en-route, wondering what enchanted mythical, magical or wild creature we would next encounter along our winding pathway.
We had a short refreshment break at the Old Store Room, offering delicious coffee, tea and cake on the way back and then returned to the Studio to examine the various artefacts, books, drawings, paintings, sculptural work and remnants of castings – a perfect time to draw, take notes, work through the worksheet and reflect upon the magical journey. Sadly, it was time to leave, but no doubt we will be back for a further enchanting visit.
Mrs Lynda Leibbrandt, Snr Art & Design Teacher.
Below are some of the students’ reflections shared in response to our visit:
Arella, Year 10 – I enjoyed the scenery. It was spectacular! I also enjoyed how there were different sizes of sculptures. I was inspired by the sketches that he did and the style of sketching that he used.
Ben, Year 10 – I think the location of the garden and sculptures was a breath of fresh air as it was a new experience for me as well as being my first outdoor gallery inspection. My favourite part of the trip was the animal sculptures in the garden, especially the feline inspired ones. It was like walking through a reserve!
Imitha, Year 10 – It was a unique experience because I had never been to an outdoor gallery before. Along with the fact, I quite enjoyed the composition of the sculptures and the different types of materials used to manufacture them. My favourite part was the small area with the different paintings of landscapes. I loved the old farm cottage feel with all the stone and use of natural elements.
Gloria, Year 11 – I really enjoyed walking through the garden and looking at all of the animals – it almost felt like they were alive! I also managed to take quite a few photos for my exam topic: Walking Through.
Milla, Year 11 – The garden along with the sculptures went beautifully together, the scenery worked together well and the sculptures inside where the sketches were was interesting to see together and the thought process behind his sculptures just from the sketches. It was a lovely experience altogether.
Jensen, Year 11 – The garden and building were tranquil and serene. His art works and sculptures were unique and displayed his skill and his thought process. The placements of his artworks are complimented by the foliage in the garden and the light that he chose for that area. The architecture of the old building combined with the architecture of the new building, the Pavilion, near it was all spectacular. I would love to attend again and spend more time there.
Zoey, Year 11 – It was really cool to walk through the garden and see all of the sculptures there. It was really fascinating and interesting to see and it gave me a lot of inspiration for my artworks. The garden itself was beautiful and kept up well and overall it was a great experience.
Isabell, Year 11 – I really enjoyed walking through the peaceful atmosphere of the garden and looking at the sculptures. Personally I really enjoyed looking at the different paintings and their mediums.
Sibo, Year 11 – I like how the artist’s work is spread out on a huge “canvas”. One sculpture is further than the next and it makes my entire time there feel like a sort of adventure or journey. Some were placed among the flowers and trees and seeing the sculptures felt like I was seeing real animals enjoying their habitats. You can really see the artist’s personality on the canvas and sketches, especially the sculptures.
Keenan, Year 12 – The visit to the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden was an eye opening journey through the works of an amazing artist. It lit a new fire and appreciation within me, and made me rethink the relationship between art and nature. Lewis’ incorporation and placement of his sculptures in appropriate natural settings, made it seem as if the sculptures themselves were naturally creating a scene, almost like a dance between manmade handwork and the natural beauty of the African environment.
Ineke, Year 12 – I liked how he used the natural world as part of his sculptures instead of working around the beauty of nature, as well as the mechanical, rigid and rough design of the sculptures which is in direct contrast to the delicate and almost subtle look of the plant life.