Old painting inspires art exhibition in Simon’s Town
A 19th century watercolour captured the attention of the Simon’s Town Historical Society and led to an exhibition that explores the rich history of the town.
In January, an overseas dealer contacted the society, requesting identification of an 1861 watercolour he had in his possession.
According to the society’s Cherry Dilley, they immediately confirmed that the work by T Haverfield depicted Simon’s Bay from Long Beach to the Martello Tower.
“The artwork was created in 1861 by a Royal Naval officer serving on HMS Narcissus. The detail in it is absolutely fantastic. And you can identify the buildings that are still there. It’s beautiful,“ Ms Dilley said.
The dealer let the society know he was looking to sell artwork.
“We were so impressed with the detail and clarity of the watercolour that the committee agreed to submit an offer to purchase, which was duly accepted. It was thanks to a generous bequest from the late Mrs Audrey Read that we were able to fund the acquisition,” she said, adding that they did not want to disclose how much they paid.
The watercolour, said Ms Dilley, became the catalyst for a larger exhibition.
“I felt this painting needed to be displayed,” she said, adding that she had approached the Simon’s Town Museum about this.
Ms Dilley, who also served as the museum curator for a decade, together with the museum’s education officer, Tazneem Wentzel, went through the museum’s storage, uncovering various prints of Simon’s Town that had rarely been seen before.
All of this will feature in the art exhibition Simon’s Town Through the Ages.
According to Ms Wentzel, some of these prints date back to the 1700s.
“We are very excited to be showcasing some of our original paintings by very well-known artists. These include landscapes in various forms such as linocuts, watercolours, tapestries, and prints,” said Ms Wentzel.
Peter Clarke and Bev De Meyer will be among some of the more contemporary artists to have their work displayed.
Ms Wentzel said the St Francis Anglican Church had also loaned the museum some of its tapestry kneelers, which a group of women from the church have been making for the past 20 years.
The kneelers, which depict various Simon’s Town scenes, are used in the church to cushion the knee against the hard, and cold floor during prayer.
“These are works of art in their own right and it will be the first time that they are exhibited,” she said.
“The exhibition’s main aim is to display the evolution of Simon’s Town, spanning from the 1700s to the present day. Simon’s Town is rich in historical layers, where stories intertwine and intersect. Our intention is to present different perspectives and encourage people to visit the museum and get involved in all that we have to offer,” said Ms Wentzel.
Simon’s Town Through the Ages will take place at the Simon’s Town Museum from Wednesday June 21 to Tuesday July 18. Viewing times are from 10am to 3pm. For more information, contact Cherry Dilley at 076 479 4729.