J.C.E. Seeliger – architect

The first in a series of two

It is interesting how few people know who the first South African architect of note was.  We reach for names like Herbert Baker (Union Buildings, Groote Schuur Hospital, etc), but he was born in Kent … J. Parker, H. Rowe-Rowe, F. Cherry, E. Simpkin, S. Stent … none of them was born in South Africa.  And so, few of us know … probably because architects are strangely invisible and unsung.

            The young Seeliger

His name was Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger, born to Prussian-German immigrants who had actually been on the way to Australia and found themselves, after being defrauded of their possessions, more pleasantly situated in Paarl where their baby, born soon after their arrival, was christened in the Rietdak Church in 1863.  In his late teenage years he undertook a hazardous journey on a barque to Europe and made his way to Berlin where, for the next few years, he trained as an architect before returning to South Africa.   In the late-19th-century the cities of South Africa were undergoing change which would make them largely what they are now.  For an architect these were exciting times.

                      10 Keerom St, Cape Town

His magnum opus, built in 1904, is the building at 10 Keerom St, central Cape Town, opposite the Supreme Court.  This building, in classical jugendstil, was the home of the Burger newspaper for decades, along with various other media agencies.  It was also where Seeliger’s office and studio were throughout his life.

           St Stephens Church, Riebeeck Square

Much of what he did is unknown.  In 1902, he was  commissioned to convert the entry porch of St Stephen’s Church, built in 1800, on Riebeeck Square.  He gave the front door and the flanking windows a Gothic character.  The building was declared a national monument in 1965.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

November, 2017

 

Sources

W.J.v.d.Walt:  Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger – noted architect –  article in Lantern, 1994.

Acknowledgement and thanks to the late Miss Anna Seeliger for information and photographs.

Thanks to Joan Brokensha.  

 

Images

Seeliger family archive.

St Stephens – Mervyn Hector

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

J.C.E. Seeliger – architect

The second in a series of two

Seeliger, having been trained by modernists in Berlin, was creative and daring in his designs.  One of his buildings was the Baumanns Biscuit Factory in New Market St in Woodstock, which features a concrete span, revolutionary at the time.  His own home in Camp St, Gardens, featured a sliding door, probably the first of its kind in the country and which has become standard fixture.

       Corporation Chambers, Grand Parade

Other buildings include the Corporation Chambers on the Grand Parade, the Heritage Building on Green Market Square and the Hohenort in Constantia, where Seeliger is honoured by having the conference room named after him. There is benefit in discovering that your Victorian home in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, was designed by Seeliger.

     Heritage House, Green Market Square

There are buildings dotted around the Cape Colony and Namibia each which bears testimony to his prolific energy.

Paul Weiss-Haus, Luderitz

A dour man, he shunned public life, quietly leaving his monumental mark on the Cape Town cityscape.  He died in 1938.

     Seeliger in his later years

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

November, 2017

 

Sources 

W.J.v.d.Walt:  Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger – noted architect –  article in Lantern, 1994.

Acknowledgement and thanks to the late Miss Anna Seeliger for information and photographs.

Special thanks to Joan Brokensha.  

 

Images

Seeliger family archive.

 

 

 

 

Will will travel

I am a part of all that I have met

Ek is deel van alles wat ek ontmoet het

Je fais partie de tout ce que j’ai rencontré

Είμαι μέρος όλων αυτών που έχω γνωρίσει

Soy parte de todo lo que he contrado

Ich bin ein Teil von allem, was ich getroffen habe

나는 내가 만난 모든 것의 일부이다.

Sono parte di tullo quello che ho incontrato

Ik ben onderdeel van alles wat ik heb ontmoet

Namibia from space

 

I am a part of all that I have met; 

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ 

Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades 

For ever and forever when I move. 

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! 

From Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1833

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

October, 2017

 

Sources

The earth

me

 

Images

Space Panorama NASA 1969

 

 

 

 

FRIEDA OLLEMANS  – sculptor supreme

I don’t remember her that well.  But I remember the whisky-and-cigars voice, and the eyes that saw everything through the lens of irony.  Her dress … well, she didn’t pander to fashion.  Yes, you couldn’t escape it — there was a bohemian rising out of the late years of modernism.  Her husband Helmut was, in the words of someone who considered Helmut an enemy, “the most professional wine farmer in the Western Cape.”  And Helmut supported every hammer, every chisel, every chip of cedar wood or ebony, everything that Frieda did, because Frieda was an artist.  That’s what you did with artists.

Odysseus

Odysseus

Born in 1915, Frieda studied sculpture under H.V. Meyerovitz in Cape Town in the early-1930s.  She went on to an award-winning career at the Slade School in London for three years.  On her return to Cape Town in 1940, she made marionettes for puppet theatre as well as pioneering childrens art centres in  the Western Cape.  The Frank Joubert Centre in Stellenbosch is an example.

Wood nymph

She had exhibitions in South Africa and abroad.  Some of her work was displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as in Chicago.

                The Dancer

Her first one-person exhibition was held in Stellenbosch in 1972.  She presented pieces in ebony, teak, cedar wood, olive wood and lead.  Unlike any artist I’ve known she had notices up amongst the works:  Please Touch the Sculptures.  For me, there are few instances in the history of art more sacred than that.

       Woman – Bearer of life

              A figure for Mutti

It was a huge price to pay, but I clenched my teeth and did it.  And I have it yet — a figure by Frieda.  Her work for me is harmonious as well as being braced against an obvious realism.  The lines flow.  I once heard her say, The wood tells me what it must become.  And it’s in the organic design, never unsettling, never stark and hard-edged, always leading the eye easily, sensuously to surprising detail.  The finish is immensely satisfying.  You ponder these pieces.  I have pondered mine for more than forty-five years.   Those who inherit what I have will ponder it too, as will their grandchildren and those beyond.

                Figure by Frieda

                Figure by Frieda

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Bridgewater, Somerset West

August, 2017

 

Source

With special thanks to Süsse Bakker who provided the biographical information.

With thanks to Miki Flockemann.

Images

Odysseus, Wood nymph – Süsse Bakker

Remaining images – my photographs

 

 

 

 

Portrait of a kiss as a windscreen wiper

From my puppyhood I learnt you kiss Daddy.  In that second decade, the use remained and yet not.  I began to see that there were different practices in different families and then different regions, cultures, other countries.  I think about this here in France where people kiss one another like windscreen wipers, and yet not everyone.  The social codes seem to dart around – understand me if you can!   I notice that the President of America (Obama) applied this windscreen wiper to diplomats and politicians in the Middle East.  I wonder if it is catching.

                  Windscreen Wiper Left

                  Windscreen Wiper Right

I’m adapting.  (That’s me with the white hair.  The man is Stéph, Claudie’s son.)  After some years, I wonder how long it takes.  These customs have been scrutinized in academic circles for quite some time.  The Anglo-Saxon cultures find the Latin encroachment on their proxemic space difficult to accept.  In my years teaching township children I was force fed.  There, the concept of “space between people” is entirely different.

The windscreen wiper in France between men will probably be judged as taboo in South Africa.  When my friend fetches me at Cape Town airport, he can relax after the barrier of a handshake has been set up!  Interesting how cultures can diverge on such basic things.  For the Frenchman and the Spaniard (to a lesser extent) the windscreen wiper greeting is part of the day, part of the centuries.  The Anglo-Saxon has dark associations with it  −  it is simply not a manly thing to do.  It will be interesting for me if Norwegians, Swedes or Danes could prove me wrong.

The world is a big place.

 

©  Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2017

 

Source

My curiosity.

 

Images 

Photographs taken by Claudie Mader  and used with her permission.

 

 

 

CAPE TOWN ANTIBES a homage plait

                  Les Remparts Antibes

“Everything here radiates, all blossoms, all sings. The sun, the woman, the love are there at home. I still have the resplendence in the eyes and in the soul. ” – Victor Hugo (1802-1885), poet, novelist, playwright.  Written 30 years after his stay in Antibes.

                Cape Town by Hoffnung, 1750

This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth. From the journal of Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), explorer, on seeing the Cape for the first time, 1580.

    Belle Epoque poster Antibes

“Astronomy teaches us that the earth is a star of heaven. The voyages show us that the Cap d’Antibes is the heaven found on earth.” – Camille Flammarion (1842-1925), scientist, mystic.

      Belle Epoque poster Cape Town

“This is a pretty and singular town; it lies at the foot of an enormous wall, which reaches into the clouds, and makes a most imposing barrier. Cape Town is a great inn, on the great highway to the east.”  −  Charles Darwin (1809-1882), naturalist, biologist, in a letter to his sister, Catherine, 1836.

                             Cap d’Antibes

“I was struck by the sort of stupor into which the grandeur of things throws us, as we go through a garden beautifully situated at the point of Antibes. One is in an Eden that seems to swim within the immensity. ” – George Sand (1804-1876), writer, dramatist, poet.

                Antibes and the Maritime Alps

“I recall that I was once seized by a stroke of lightning before the city of Antibes, and I shouted it is too much, it is too beautiful.” –  Jacques Audiberti (1899-1965), writer, poet, dramatist.

                Cape Town by Bourset, 1770

“… Antibes, a gallant little city loved by the sun … and that the Eternal Father reserves for himself one day to retire, later, when He feels old.” – Paul Arène (1843-1896), poet, writer.

“Perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores.”  – Former President Nelson Mandela (1919 – 2013), during his inauguration speech on May 9, 1994.

                                  Cape Point

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2017

 

Sources

Pierre Cosson: Antibes Juan Les Pins Biot Vallauris.  Guide Historique et Touristique.  Editions Gismondi. Cypris. 1980.

South African quotations

 

Images

Antibes – Pierre Cosson : Antibes …

Hoerikwagga – Hoffnung 1750

Belle Epoque poster Antibes – source lost

Belle Epoque poster Cape Town – Hoerikwagga

Cap d’Antibes – Pierre Cosson : Antibes …

Antibes – Claude Dronsart, Renaud Dumenil : Antibes Juan Les Pins. Editions A.R.T. 1991

Cape Point – Backpackers.com 

 

 

 

LEGENDS – the mistiness; the hard facts

My grandmother Lenie, born in the 19th-century, told me that we had an ancestor who throttled a young attacking lion with his own hands.  Is there a pinch of Hercules here?  My grandmother Miemie, born in the 19th-century, related how, at Vegkop, where the Trekkers were put to the spear of impis, a black woman servant fled with a white baby.  That baby was our forebear.

Legends are the mist around their heroes who stride over struggling facts of history.  Such a figure is St Honorat.

If we look at the year of his birth, 350 years after Christ, we see the changing Gallic-Roman world of Belgium.  He and his brother converted to the new, strange belief of the Christians.  Twenty years before Constantine had converted and a mere century before that Christians had still been torn apart by lions for the entertainment of spectators.

After adventures and travels over Europe, Honorat and his followers landed on the islands near modern-day Cannes, Iles de Lerins.  Here he established one of the first cloister-monasteries in Europe, which had great influence.  I was privileged to stay at this cloister for three days, a place of rich history and legends.  I came across one of these legends in the Dictionnaire d’Antibes:

 “The devil had gone, but serpents were still there.  Honorat fell down, begging God to destroy them.  Immediately they were dead, to the last.  But they were so numerous that the remains began to stink, but the holy one did not choke.

“He ascended a palm tree and prayed passionately.  Then the sea whelmed, flooding the surface of the island and washing away the repulsive carcasses of the serpents.”

Legends persist.  For us moderns there is something – the throttling of the lion; Vegkop; the serpents.  Do we always take the serpents literally? Were the people of the dark ages, finding the words for the history of a well-loved figure, not attempting to picture an inner struggle that Honorat was having?  Certainly Greek myths are a rich field for psychologists.

And what value there is for all South Africans in our family legend from Vegkop.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

June, 2017

 

Sources

Dictionnaire D’Antibes Juan-Les-Pins. Pierre Tosan (ed.)  HEPT – Antibes. 1998

Miemie van der Walt (1881 – 1973)

Lenie Rousseau (1883 – 1963)

 

My drawings

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: