Last night I returned from the Hermanus FynArts Festival, having spent six days of the Festival ten-day period enjoying a feast of a fine Festival! I have experienced Festivals in my time, but never for so long a period, and none so extensive in content as the Hermanus FynArts Festival. I cannot wait for the 2017 Festival, to be held from 9 to 18 June 2017! Continue reading →
The first event I attended of the Hermanus FynArts Festival on Monday evening was the Festival Gala Dinner, being a highlight in that I was able to attend it, and in meeting Benguela Cove owner Penny Streeter! The Festival is a jam-packed celebration of art, food, music, and culture, running over a ten day period! Continue reading →
For the fourth year Hermanus FynArts is showcasing and celebrating the best of South African Arts, from 10 – 19 June. The theme of the Festival this year is ‘French Connection’. Continue reading →
I did a quick visit to Hermanus yesterday, and at a stop at Rivendell Restaurant, between Bot River and Hermanus, I was told that Chef Thomas Sinn was coming back from his overseas holiday especially to participate in a super-sounding feast, for which he is one of eight chefs cooking on Monday evening. The staff brought a copy of the programme, and I could not believe what the organisers have planned for the 11-day Festival, ‘A Celebration of South African Arts’ its 80-page Festival brochure proudly proclaims!
The programme consists of different themes: Continue reading →
The organisers of the 7th Franschhoek Literary Festival have attracted negative attention to the 2013 event, taking place this weekend, before it has even started, with the announcement last week that no South African wine writer was good enough to win this year’s South African Wine Writers Award, sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof’s Porcupine Ridge to the value of R25000.
Organised by Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism (FWV), the media release to announce this slap-in-the-face news to all local wine writers did not offer any further explanation. What is not known is which wine writers entered the competition and why the judges John Maytham of radio station Cape Talk and occasional wine writer himself; BBC radio producer and author Duncan Minshull, with no apparent wine writing experience or wine knowledge; and Canadian VINES editor Christopher Waters did not find any of the entries to be of a high enough standard. The winner and first runner-up were to have been announced at Essence (hardy known for its winelist!) on Friday, as part of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. In its fifth year of the Award, past winners are Joannne Gibson, Norman McFarlane, and Tim James (who won twice). The Award recognises technical quality and literary quality, the Franschhoek Wine Valley said in its media release when calling for entries, having to do a reminder call, possibly due to too few or too poor quality entries received. Oddly the media release regarding the outcome of the judging appears to have been removed from the FWV website, and has not been sent by the PR agency of FWV, Smart Communication and Events, nor by its CEO Jenny Prinsloo, nor by the publicist Claire Richards for the Franschhoek Literary Festival, when requested! This may be due to the amusement with which wine whiner Neil Pendock has written about this state of affairs (e.g. ‘SA wine writers; From Bad to Bizarre’), the only wine writer who appears to have commented about the poor quality wine writing, as judged by the Franschhoek Literary Festival judging panel! Pendock cheekily suggested a course in wine writing for the Literary Festival after this fiasco!
The programme for this year’s Literary Festival is disappointing in terms of the quality and stature of the Festival, given the great authors who were invited in the past. Part of the reason could be that other Book and Literary Festivals have sprung up in Cape Town and in Knysna, since the successful Literary Festival was first conceived in Franschhoek. The organising committee too may be to blame, having become rather arrogant, as we noted last year when we provided feedback to Literary Festival Director Jenny Hobbs, which she responded to with a curt ‘noted‘, unlike previous years, when she welcomed and discussed feedback. Leaking information to her infamous daughter Jane-Anne Hobbs about a Blogging workshop proposal for the Festival we had discussed with Hobbs snr, and mocked on the now defunct Twitter abuse account by Sonia Cabano, further demonstrated the lack of ethics of the Hobbs mother and daughter. No surprise is the inclusion of Hobbs jnr on the Festival programme! Nepotistically Hobbs snr’s brother David Walters features in the Literary Festival programme too, with a ceramics exhibition ‘Words on Pots’ at his gallery! Noseweek editor Martin Welz has managed to organise the first ever Franschhoek Literary Festival side event, with a weekend workshop at the Protea Hotel addressed by ‘activist experts’ Richard Young on the arms deal, David Klatzow on criminal prosecutions, Shaheen Moolla on the destruction of our marine life, and Mariette Liefferink on acid mine drainage and radioactive fallout.
Going through the programme to plan my attendance, I found little to excite me on this year’s programme. Twitter has one session dedicated to the fast-growing 140 character communication form, with past speaker and Woolworths’ social media practitioner Sam Wilson (8550 followers), writer/editor Julian Rademeyer (3500 followers), and Business Report columnist Ann Crotty (6 followers and still has an ‘egg’ profile picture, demonstrating what a newbie she is at Twitter!). Blogging still is not recognised as a writing form by the Literary Festival organisers. Alexander McCall-Smith probably is the biggest name the Literary Festival offers, but its media sponsor the Sunday Times is offering Capetonians an opportunity to hear him speak in Cape Town later this week! Award-winning writers on the programme are Lauren Beukes, Christopher Hope, and Antjie Krog, with Jane Raphaely, Finula Dowling, Marguerite Poland, Hermann Giliomee, Tony Leon, and Melanie Verwoerd also being well-known.
Every year Christopher Duigan runs the Autumn Music Festival alongside the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and performs ‘Literary Liszt’ on Friday at 19h30, two Schubert-dedicated concerts on Saturday and on Sunday morning, and a free ‘Voices for Africa’ performance on Saturday evening, all performed in the Dutch Reformed church on the main road.
Despite the disappointing programme this year we are grateful to the organisers for putting on the event, and for most Franschhoek accommodation establishments and restaurants already being fully booked weeks ahead of this coming weekend. Attendees of the Literary Festival do not only enjoy attending the sessions, but also like interacting with each other at guest house breakfasts, and at coffee shops and restaurants in Franschhoek. Booking in advance is advised, as a number of sessions are sold out already. Excellent weather is forecast for the weekend.
POSTSCRIPT 13/5: We have received the following statement, written by organisers Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Tyler and sent by Claire Richards, the Franschhoek Literary Festival PR consultant, to explain the lack of a 2013 South African Wine Writers Award:
‘STATEMENT ON THE WINE WRITER’S PRIZE
The FLF wishes to clarify a few points around the 2013 Wine Writer’s Prize, which was not awarded this year.
· The prize is funded by the Franschhoek Literary Festival and presented by the CEO of Franschhoek Wine Valley.
· The independent judges for 2013 were John Maytham (South Africa), Christopher Hope (a South African who lives in France) and Christopher Waters (Canada).
· 20 submissions were sent to the judges after the deadline was extended.
· In 2012 there were 23 submissions. Several wine writers declined to submit entries this year, feeling that they had nothing suitable to offer.
· Submissions are sent to the judges anonymously. Two in Afrikaans were judged as such by John Maytham and Christopher Hope and translated for Christopher Waters.
· No payment is involved. The judges are thanked for their work with the offer of a case of South African wine.
· Their unanimous decision this year was that not one of the entries lived up to the expected literary and technical qualities of wine writing.
· The FLF is funded by Porcupine Ridge Wines and the Sunday Times, neither of which groups has any say in the judges’ decision, and ticket sales.
· A discussion will be held by the organisers and their advisers after the FLF about the parameters for the prize in future years.
· We warmly thank those wine writers who made positive suggestions in this regard and welcome further suggestions from wine writers.
· Contact details of more South African wine writers to add to our mailing list would also be very welcome.
Jenny Hobbs, FLF Director & Sheenagh Tyler, FLF Manager’
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: There appears to be confusion between the sponsor Porcupine Ridge and the Literary Festival organisers about the hashtag for the Festival. It has been confirmed that it is #FLF13. Porcupine Ridge appears to have printed all its marketing material for the Festival as #FLF2013! A much larger problem to befall the Festival is that one of its lead speakers Anthony Horowitz has withdrawn from the Festival in the very last minute! Franschhoek felt very commercialised today, with a massive bottle of Porcupine Ridge and many Sunday Times banners outside the town hall, the marketing effort of its two sponsors!
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Sadly the Christopher Duigan ‘Literary Liszt’ concert in the Dutch Reformed Church this evening clashed with a wannabee Cat Stevens singing outside the church at the Night Market!
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Neil Pendock has written another attack against the Franschhoek Literary Festival and its Director Jenny Hobbs , for insinuating that no local wine writer is good enough to win the prize. He suggests that each of the twenty entrants should sue the Franschhoek Literary Festival for the prize money of R25000, a total of R500000! What is ironic is that the Sunday Times is the media sponsor of the Franschhoek Literary Festival, yet its irreverent wine whiner Pendock is disparaging the Festival on the blog which belongs to the newspaper!
POSTSCRIPT 18/5: The Franschhoek Literary Festival is in further trouble – a documentary ‘Truth be told’, which Noseweek was to flight in a fringe event to the Festival this weekend, was stopped after the SABC lawyers served papers on its producer Sylvia Vollenhoven, who was to speak about her battle to get the documentary flighted. Earlier this year Vollenhoven flighted the documentary to a number of Noseweek reader groups in the dungeons of the Baxter!
POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Wine writer and PRO Emile Joubert has written an Open Letter to the organisers of the Wine Writers’ Award!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Hermanus is synonymous with the annual Whale Festival. This year it is laying on a 10-day Hermanus FynArts festival, a feast of the visual arts, classical music, jazz, literature, wines, and gourmet food, a fusion of Art Festival and Winter School in a town that has long been known for being home to many leading artists. It will run from 7 – 16 June.
Over the ten days entertainment will be offered over the two weekends, while on weekdays one can attend courses and workshops on photography, ceramics, painting, drawing, writing, cooking, and viticulture. Top sculptor Dylan Lewis will exhibit his work outside the Marine Hotel and will host a talk about his work, interviewed by leading writer Christopher Hope, one of the co-founders of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Land sculptor Strijdom van der Merwe, and co-owner of Stellenbosch restaurant Casparus, will host a photographic exhibition of his work, with a talk. Guy du Toit’s ‘Talking Hares’ will be on show at Sumaridge wine estate. Jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, photography and film will be exhibited. Ceramicists include Clementina van der Walt, Hennie Meyer, and Tania Babb, with Ardmore Ceramics exhibiting at the Marine Hotel. A National Art Competition will run alongside the festival, sponsored by the SA National Space Agency. A talk will focus on JH Pierneef, one of our country’s best artists ever.
Vintage South African movies will be screened, as well as classic Hollywood movies, in the Romantiques vintage shop.
A number of the wine farms on the impressive Hermanus Wine Route (including Hamilton Russell, Creation, Newton Johnson, Ataraxia, La Vierge, and Bouchard Finlayson), as well as the art galleries in the town will host an art exhibition, and will offer special events. During the festival, concerts will take place at lunchtimes in the Anglican Church; high teas will be available at the town’s coffee shops at 15h00 each day; wine tasting and food and wine pairing can be enjoyed on the wine farms and at the town’s restaurants, with Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris and Eat Out Top 10 Chef Peter Tempelhoff cooking a dinner on 7 June; guided walks in Fernkloof nature reserve will be offered; and one can enjoy a ‘virtual tour‘ of South African wines.
The Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra will perform in the Hawston Hall in celebration of Youth Day, and UCT Head of the Opera School Professor Angelo Gobbato will talk about opera, and one of his talks will focus on ‘Celebrating Verdi’. There will be opera recitals too, including by Gobbato! Singer Zanne Stapelberg and Kathleen Tagg (South African pianist now based in New York) will perform ‘Soul of Fire’. Well-loved conductor Richard Cock will be in attendance, and the baroque Camerata Tinta Barocca will perform.
To allow a feast of ‘fine living’ without concern for drinking and driving, a hop-on hop-off bus will take festival goers to the wine estates as well as to the venues in the town. Booking opens today.
Hermanus FynArts 2013. Hermanus Tourism Bureau. www.hermanusfynarts.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The fourth Franschhoek Literary Festival, taking place next weekend, has built up such a loyal following that it has virtually booked out the accommodation and restaurants in Franschhoek, a most welcome boost for the hospitality industry, given the quietest May ever experienced.
Author Christopher Hope is the Festival Director, and initiated the Festival Literary Festival, supported by organisers Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Tyler, as a “street party for writers and readers from across the country, and around the world.” This is his last Festival as Director, Hope has announced.
A part of the proceeds of the Franschhoek Literary Festival goes to the Library Fund, and R 415 000 has been raised to date, allowing the organisers and attendees to achieve the objective of “the people shall read”, by buying books for libraries.
The Festival kicks off with the theme that Franschhoek has become famous for – gourmet food. Donald Paul will talk to authors of food books Myrna Robbins (“Franschhoek Food”) and Marlene van der Westhuizen (“Sumptuous”), and Mark Dendy-Young, owner of La Petite Ferme, under the heading”The Chefs Who Played with Fire”.
Other well-known writers who will talk at the Literary Festival are Antje Krog (‘Begging to be Black’), Aher Arap Bol (‘The Lost Boy’), Deon Meyer (‘Thirteen Hours’), John van der Ruit (‘Spud’), Rian Malan (‘Resident Alien’), Pieter Haasbroek (‘Kruispunt’), Damon Galgut (‘In a Strange Room’), Ivan Vladislavic (‘Flashback), Marita van der Vyver (‘Gourmet Rhapsody’), Christopher Hope (‘A Separate Development’), Jonathan Shapiro (cartoonist Zapiro), and Margie Orford (‘Daddy’s Girl’).
Alongside the Franschhoek Literary Festival will run the Autumn Music Festival, co-ordinated by talented classical pianist Christopher Duigan. On Saturday 15 May Duigan plays two performances “celebrating Chopin”, honouring the composer’s 200th birthday anniversary, at 11h00 and at 18h00, both in the NG Church on the main road. A Gala Opera evening will be hosted at Cafe Bon Bon, and costs R320 for a four-course meal, welcome drink, and music by soprano Bronwen Forbay. Duigan plays “Music for a Sunday morning” on 16 May at the NG Church at 11h30, while Federico Freschi will sing Autumn Songs that afternoon at 15h30 at Cafe Bon Bon.
Franschhoek Literary Festival, Franschhoek, 14 – 16 May. Tickets should be booked via www.webtickets.co.za. Autumn Music Festival, 15 – 16 May – bookings for the Cafe Bon Bon concerts at tel 021 876-3936, tickets at the door (R80) for the NG Church concerts.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
The third annual Franschhoek Literary Festival this past weekend has been a success, despite extremely heavy rain over the Festival weekend. Restaurants, shops and accommodation establishments all benefited from the Festival.
Featuring a line-up of speakers including Andre Brink, Max du Preez, Zubeida Jaffer, Shaun Johnson, Vikas Swarup (author of ‘Q & A’, which became the Oscar-winning movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’), Justin Cartwright, Christopher Hope and the biographers Pippa Green (Trevor Manual) and Jeremy Gordin (Jacob Zuma), many sessions were sold out. Franschhoek chefs Reuben Riffel and Neil Jewell spoke about their books ‘Reuben Cooks’ and ‘Bread & Wine’, respectively.
Good news for Franschhoek is that Andre Brink announced that his next book is to be set in Franschhoek.
The Autumn Music Weekend by Christopher Duigan, a regular visitor to Franschhoek, which ran alongside the Festival, was as excellent as ever, especially the “I Got Rhythm” concert.
The play ‘Bafana Republic III’, which had its premiere at the Festival, was less of a success. The dinner at Bread & Wine was found by Festival goers to not live up to expectations.
“The Franschhoek Literary Festival, which runs from 15 â€“ 17 May 2009, has announced the first winner of its South African Wine Writer’s Award.
Joanne Gibson was unanimously declared the wine writer of the year by the three judges for her feature article which appeared in WINE magazine (SA, April 2008) on the famous/infamous GS Cabernet 1966, a wine as highly acclaimed as it turned out to be controversial.
Joanne is the deputy editor of WINE magazine, having done freelance writing for a number of publications such as Good Taste, Winelands Living, the annual Platter’s guide and for several UK publications including Harpers, Drinks Bulletin, Decanter, Wine & Spirit, Square Meal, Off Licence News and her own column in Horizons inflight magazine. She also has her Diploma in wine and spirits through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
Joanne recounted her thoughts: “Lost records, uncertain origins, a beloved father’s reputation possibly at stake â€¦ suffice to say I had to tread lightly while telling this fascinating story.”
The event attracted entries from a wide spectrum of South African wine writers and provided an excellent start to this substantial new award which is to become an annual fixture.
The award will be presented on 16 May at a private function at the Solms-Delta Wine estate. The award “certificate” is an individually crafted artwork by the highly regarded artist Pippa Skotnes. The award also entails a cash prize of R25 000.
“We were encouraged by the extremely high standard of the entries received”, said Festival director Christopher Hope.
The winning entry will be published on the FLF’s homepage – visit www.flf.co.za”
This post comes from the Franschhoek Literary Festival website.