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Bloemfontein by Thomas Baines. (Note the biltong above the tent)

Last November I stopped off in Bloem on my way up to Fordsburg. I met the curator of the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, Ester le Roux, to discuss the upcoming show. For those of you who think there’s nothing more to Bloem than the Shell Ultra City, I suggest you head for the Oliewenhuis and cast your eye over their very good collection of South African paintings. You can have an alfresco lunch too whilst admiring the fine lines of the stately old building.

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A truly impressive expanse of lawn rolls out to the surrounding koppies. And yes, there are many wild olive trees here: hence the name. William Mollison designed this Neo Cape Dutch beauty in 1941 and it later became the abode of the State Presidents of the Republic when in Bloem. In that Rubicon year of 1985, when I was propping up the bar at Jamesons in downtown Joburg, PW Botha handed it over to the National Museum to be used as an art gallery. That was the best thing the unlikeable old Krokodil ever did.

Monique Pelser and I open our show here on the 3rd of October. It’s an extended version of the show we did in Stellenbosch last year. Ah, the waxing and waning of the Pierneef project. I’ve been to 20 of the 28 sites so far and I guess it won’t be over until I’ve been to all of them. I’ve taken to revisiting sites: Rustenburg Kloof four times since 2007. Ditto Meiringspoort. There may be something pathological going on here, but I often don’t spend enough time at a site, or can’t find it. In 2011, I  drove halfway around Lesotho looking for the Maluti mountain site, without success. “Malutis, Basutoland” is the Station Panel site nearest Bloemfontein. I’m going to have another crack at this riddle at the end of the month, just before the show. Malutis, anyone?

JH Pierneef,  Malutis, Basutoland. c1932

JH Pierneef, Malutis, Basutoland. c1932