Writing Art History Since 2002

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Birds in all shapes and colours have inspired countless artists over the centuries from East to West, from Rock art to contemporary art. Birds are also at the core of a creative partnership and bond formed by artists, Malcolm Bowling and Boniface Chikwenhere, and Nuntius, a wine brand from Gabrielskloof Wine Estate; new additions to the growing Hermanus Art and Wine circles. Christine Lundy meets the artists and Nicolene Finlayson, Gabrielskloof’s brand ambassador, to capture their unique creative connections to birds.

AMACULTURE Birds Gabrielskloof 1
ABOVE: The Doves from the label illustrations for the Nuntius wine range by Gabrielskloof. Image courtesy of Whitespace Creative.
Birds, with their beautiful appearance and graceful movements, seem to consistently capture our imagination, and they have often played a major significance in art. In Chinese paintings, it is said that birds were one of the main subjects painted alongside flowers and landscapes, and, throughout Western art history, birds have been used as visual symbolism, particularly during the Medieval and Renaissance eras. Their representation in painting was not just charmingly decorative but held a rich meaning, with the most famous examples being the dove, symbol of peace and innocence; the crow, representing adultery and wicked thoughts; and the chubby pigeon, an icon of self-indulgence and slothful ways.

In the case of the artist Malcolm Bowling, who is well known for his detailed pencil drawings, his inspiration comes from nature – capturing birds through his photographic lens and giving them a new life with his skills as a draughtsman. Talking about his life’s work and passion Malcolm says that his “search for the ‘ultimate’ [is] to be able to perceive and understand what is around [him] in Nature, to learn from the peace and revitalisation one feels when in a beautiful place; to bear witness to something that drives one’s soul. The ebb and flow of nature reveals no prejudice”.

For many years, birds have captivated Bowling. “I strive to capture the birds’ posture, character and temperament,” he says, “For me, the attentive stillness required to observe a bird quietly, serenely, going about its business, should be enough to instil some humility into humanity. If only more people would take the time to watch, to listen…” You just need to look at the photographs he has taken and compare them to his fine pencil drawings to see the depth of life he has instilled in his work.

AMACULTURE Bowling and Boniface Artwork

ABOVE: Drawings and paintings by Malcolm Bowling, sculptures by Boniface Chikwenhere. Images courtesy of Malcolm Bowling.

While Bowling captures a moment in a bird’s life, Boniface Chikwenhere creates birds inspired from his creative mind and the various pieces of driftwood, fossilised or petrified wood that he finds. Each sculpture is dictated by nature itself. Equipped with the carving skills transmitted by his ancestors, Chikwenhere says that his sculptures “reveal nature’s own handwork,” whether the wood comes from the riverbanks of Zimbabwe, the shores of lakes in Malawi or the deserts of Namibia. Born in Zimbabwe, his grandfather has trained him to sculpt and have given him the gift to see and feel nature’s handiwork by offering it a new life. Upon becoming a father himself, he undertook to change the course of his life and came to South Africa to give more freedom to his family and his art. He now shares exhibition space with Malcolm Bowling in the Malcolm Bowling Art Studio which has recently opened in Hermanus’ CBD.

Nuntius, the newest brand for its Botriver-based winery, Gabrielskloof, also uses the bird as a visual symbol. Only 20 minutes from Hermanus and just over an hour away from Cape Town, Botriver is a lesser-known wine land area that holds quite a few gems, with Gabrielskloof certainly being one of them. Known for their fine white and red wines, the winery is a true expression of the area. Nuntius was created as a beautiful entry-level range; an unusual white Blend, with Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and Viognier, and a Rhone-style red Blend. Both wines are growing in popularity and are amongst the best value for money on the market. Nicolene Finlayson, daughter of the owners, ambassador for the brand and a great creative mind, has designed the new brand and label with the agency Whitespace Creative.

AMACULTURE Nuntius Gabrielskloof

ABOVE: Nuntius wine range by Gabrielskloof. Images courtesy of Whitespace Creative.

“Nuntius means ‘messenger’ in Latin,” she says, “We wanted to have the wine connected to Gabrielskloof.”. Gabriel, (the winery’s main icon, linked to original owner in 1860, Gabriel Le Roux, is depicted as the angel Gabriel), is the bringer of good news, the messenger. “Nuntius, here personified by a dove (a female dove for the white blend and a male dove for the red blend), is our other messenger – the bringer of good wine… It’s all a little bit tongue-in-cheek” she adds.

Gabrielskloof have certainly created their own visual symbolism, in quite a striking way!

Bowling and Chikwenhere’s work can be seen at Malcolm Bowling Art Studio at Warrington Place in the Hermanus CBD:

Tel: 076 122 0218

Email: info@malcolmbowling.com

To visit and taste Gabrielskloof wines:

Tel: +27(0)28 284 9865

Email: info@gabrielskloof.co.za

GPS coordinates: 34°14’19.88″S, 19°15’9.69″E


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