Clarens – An Artists’ Haven for Everyoneby Roseanna McBain on 1 December 2014
Clarens is straight out of a fairytale. With golden mountains, winding rivers, sprawling gardens, quirky and unique spots, and free-roaming wildlife, it is little wonder that Clarens is an artist’s haven.
Clarens boasts over 20 galleries, which is almost double the number found in any other small town in South Africa. With its incredible beauty and hospitable village atmosphere, artists from all over the world come here to be inspired by the surroundings and to partake in artistic workshops.
Clarens through the seasons
“The Free State landscape gladdens my heart, no matter what my mood. When I am here I feel that nothing can shut me in; that my thoughts can roam as far as the horizons.” – Nelson Mandela
Tina de Beer, owner of Tina de Beer Gallery and head of the art forum, shares her thoughts on the changing seasons in Clarens.
“The skies are hung for the artist’s eyes and every season has its own unique beauty.”
“Winter may bring a wonderland in white or hell freezes over and we all complain about the weather.”
“Spring brings a new awakening and a resurrection occurs when the bulbs sprout and the trees start budding.”
“Summer is a good season with beautiful gardens and fresh vegetables but we do feel that a temperature of 27°C is a heat wave!”
“Autumn in Clarens is probably the most beautiful place to see the leaves change colour, out of all of Africa. So photographers and artists flock here to enjoy it and we proudly proclaim ‘I live here!’”
Sites of Interest
“My favourite spot in the area is Sunnyside Guest Farm. The magnificent scenery has inspired artists since Pierneef painted there. His painting “Near Golden Gate”, which was stolen from the SABC’s art collection, was completed here. Sunnyside is still an artist’s haven where groups come to paint and enjoy the mountains. “– Tina De Beer
Sites of interest in Clarens are plentiful, from each and every sandstone house, to the gorgeous valley views. Here are the most worthwhile spots to see.
This massive rock feature overlooks Clarens’ entrance. Legend has it that upon hearing the news of the Titanic’s sinking, a shocked local looked towards the rock feature. He noticed similarities between it and the sunken ship, and the feature has become known as Titanic Rock.
GPS: -28.499431, 28.421718
GPS: Schaapplaats Farm: -28.5759401, 28.4592567
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Set just under 20km outside of Clarens you will find towering red stone mountains, free-roaming wildlife, and numerous hiking trails.
GPS: -28.516681, 28.616726
Motouleng Fertility Caves
The Motouleng Fertility Caves can be found at De Lusthof Guest Farm. These caves are considered to be sacred and have been used for more than 800 years by local tribes who use them as a gathering spot for spiritual matters. They are located 20km outside of Clarens.
GPS: The Farm Lusthof, -28.576354, 28.363170
The Basotho Village is a fascinating spot in Golden Gate Highlands National Park, giving visitors insight into the local culture.
GPS: -28.488182, 28.744699
Mushroom Rock is 3km outside of Clarens, on the Fouriesburg road. It is a unique rock formation which bears striking similarities to the fungi it is named after.
GPS: -28.559530, 28.412871
Surrender Hill is a historic Anglo Boer War site with beautiful views. It can be found 10km away from Clarens on the Fouriesburg road. The annual 42.2km Surrender Hill Marathon takes place here.
GPS: -28.601082, 28.403799
Art Galleries in Clarens
“I opened my Gallery here, because Clarens is very strategically placed for tourists from all over the country and it has become well known on the international circuit. On a visit to an art museum in Delfts Haven, Netherlands, the curator asked where I came from. I replied Clarens South Africa, thinking that he wouldn’t know. I was the one surprised when he told me he was thrilled to meet an artist from Clarens, and he then told me everything he knew about our little village.” – Tina de Beer
Art workshops, retreats and craft courses, occur monthly in Clarens. From seasoned painters right through to those who have absolutely no artistic inclinations will enjoy the variety of courses available. Learn everything from how to paint with acrylic, oils, and watercolours, to creating your own canvas boards and learning styles such as neo-impressionism. Art workshops are held at the various galleries in Clarens, with trips to beautiful gardens and the surrounding countryside, so visitors will have plenty of inspiration to draw on. Stay up to date with these events with Clarens News.
“Every artist dips his brush into his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures” – Henry Ward Beecher, an American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and speaker
Addy and Hoyle Art Gallery
Simon Addy creates mainly surrealist works in acrylic and print, while Lyn Hoyle creates whimsical figures and magical stylised landscapes. Both artists offer commissions.
277 Main Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 16:30; closed on Tuesdays | +27 (0) 86 273 1606 | E-mail: email@example.com
Art and Wine Gallery on Main
With beautiful mountain views, the gallery offers the chance to browse through the various paintings of people, houses, and landscapes, with funky ceramic and blown-glass sculptures.
Wine: Collections and vintages from wine farms around South Africa.
279 Main Street, Clarens | Open: Monday – Sunday, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel+27 (0) 58 256 1298
Artefunto is known for fusion art made from bamboo canvases, which is shaped into beautiful plates with contemporary and surrealist scenes.
Willows Lifestyle Centre, Sias Oosthuizen Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1699
Blou Donki Art Gallery
Showcasing various South African artists, Blou Donki Art Gallery includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, and functional art.
Windmill Centre, Main Street, Clarens | Open: Monday – Thursday (Closed on Tuesdays), 08:30 – 16:30; Friday – Saturday, 08:30 – 17:00; Sunday: 08:30 – 15:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1957 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Enslin Vorster Gallery
Enslin Vorster specialises in watercolour landscapes. His work can be seen in numerous corporate, private, and public collections which include the likes of Altech Electronic Systems, Standard Bank, South African Broadcasting Corporation, and the Transvaal Rugby Football Union.
222 Main Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 17:00 | +27 (0)58 256 1312 | E-mail email@example.com
Essensual Art Gallery
Said to be the only gallery in Clarens to display tasteful nudes and bodyscapes, Essensual showcases a variety of South African artists. Art forms include oil, acrylic, charcoal sketches, sculptures, and more. Greeting cards and craft products are available too.
Corner of Main and Market Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 82 210 6894
Helen Claassen Gallery
Helen Classen has gained fame for her acrylic still-life and whimsical images. She aims to send a message of “peace, hope, and love”.
Van Zyl Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 16:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 871 3988
Johan Smith Art Gallery
“I do not paint to make statements; I paint because I have a God-given talent which brings joy and meaning to my life and hopefully to those with whom I share it.” – Johan Smith
The Johan Smith Art Gallery showcases the work of Johan Smith, which includes landscape and floral paintings, as well as artistic pieces from others artists such as hand-made glass, ceramics, bronzes, and contemporary paintings.
Windmill Centre, Main Street, Clarens | Open: Monday – Sunday, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1620
Run by Karen and Malcolm Hickman, the cosy design shop of Kalmer represents the varied artists and crafters of Clarens. You’ll find a mishmash of beautiful and eclectic items for sale.
On the Square, 328 Market Street, Clarens | Open: Monday – Sunday, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1232
Peter Bonney Studio
Focusing on hyper-realism and working mainly in acrylic, Peter Bonney creates incredible landscapes that capture large skies and spaces; bringing a sense of peace and serenity into each of his artworks.
329 Roos Street, Clarens | Open: Monday – Sunday, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1538
Peter Badcock-Walters Gallery on the Square
Peter Badcock-Walters is the author and illustrator of 6 books, which have led to his international acclaim as one of the last great war artists of the 20th century. He is well-known for pairing poetry with finely-detailed images. Pop into the gallery to see his equestrian and Bosman collections, or stay over at his guesthouse, Clarens Country House.
Gallery on the Square, Market Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 17:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1005
Richard Rennie Gallery
“Just look out of my studio window…. everywhere you look there’s a picture.” – Richard Rennie
Richard Rennie is a lovable artist who invites you to paint with him throughout the year. He offers well timed advice as opposed to actual lessons. He spends most days painting in his sunny studio and is well-known around South Africa for his use of watercolours.
Main Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 16:00 | Tel: +27 (0)82 069 3635
Robert Badenhorst Gallery
“I love being an artist as it gives me the opportunity to travel and meet people.” – Robert Badenhorst
The Robert Badenhorst Gallery showcases works from various artists and Old Masters like Adriaan Boshoff and Zakkie Eloff, alongside talented newcomers such as Ryan Loubser.
281 Main Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 16:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 83 399 259
Smudge Contemporary Art Gallery
“I opened … the art gallery in Clarens, with the hope of bringing these artists as well as patrons and investors of contemporary art under the same roof” – Elsje Grobbelaar
Owner and curator, Elsje Grobbelaar, has filled the Smudge Contemporary Art Gallery with artworks that have an unusual and modern feel.
279 Main Street, Clarens | Open: Monday – Saturday, 09:00 – 17:00; Sunday, 10:30 – 14:30 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1240
Tina de Beer Gallery
Working mainly in oils, with a few mix media and watercolour pieces, Tina finds joy in painting, which is tangible to the viewers who stop by the Tina de Beer gallery. Painting everything from flora to fauna, and landscapes to African life, there is a clean majesty that shines through the individual pieces, which range from styles of realism to impressionism. Commissions are both nationally and internationally requested from her, and she is well known for the extreme effort she puts into these pieces.
Corner of Main Road and Van Reenen Streets, Clarens | Open: Monday – Saturday, 09:00 – 16:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 58 256 1071
Well known in national and international art circles, Tobias Viljoen is the artist and gallery owner of Tobias Art. His paintings reflect the warm and vibrant colours of South African landscapes and rural areas, with artworks done mainly in oils on canvas.
281 Main Street, Clarens | Open” Monday – Saturday, 09:00 – 16:00 | Tel: +27 (0) 78 989 2559
What Matters Gallery
Filled with assorted beaded knickknacks, photographs, and objects d’art, the What Matters Gallery is known for its beautiful acrylic, oil, and watercolour paintings, as well as costume jewellery, gifts, mosaics, cushions, and more!
Main Street, Clarens | Open: Daily, 09:00 – 16:00 | Tel: +27(0) 82 556 5208
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