The Art of Individuality.
When you know you’re like no one else, you need a place like nowhere else. Ellerman House is a true original: a place where art and inspiration open the door to character.
Only a few rare places on earth not only exemplify their own individuality, but through their unique character and spirit of place open up a world to the discerning visitor. “Our vision at Ellerman House is to share with our guests the very best that the Cape and South Africa can offer,” says proprietor Paul Harris.
Home for South African artists
Ellerman House in Cape Town achieves this in two remarkable ways. “We have a large collection of South African art that gives the viewer a walk through our history and appreciation of the old masters, while the Contemporary Art Gallery showcases the talent of some of our dynamic young artists,” says Harris.
The extraordinary Ellerman House art collection includes almost 1,000 curated works to provide an immersive artistic experience of the social and cultural shifts of South African life spanning the mid-1800s to the present moment.
The collection takes in early pictorial historians of the mid-19th century, such as Thomas Bowler and Thomas Baines, representing the early colonial encounter and its attempts to engage with South Africa’s unique landscape and people. It extends through the early 20th century with generations of artists, such as Maggie Laubser and Irma Stern, the doyens of the local art movement that grappled with not just local subject matter but introduced global artistic movements such as expressionism to the culturally isolated local art scene.
The tour de force progresses through the 20th century to the work of South Africa’s uniquely modernist aesthetic explorations in the early mid-20th century. The work of the likes of artistic giants such as Walter Battiss and Alexis Preller explored stylistic aspects of ancient and traditional African art to pioneer a local brand of modernism. At the same time, the art collection introduces pioneering black artists like Gerard Sekoto and George Pemba, whose work contains a strain of social and political commentary in its representations of the “hidden” township life and a uniquely African aesthetic.
The collection also represents a range of South Africa’s most exciting contemporary artists such as Wayne Barker, Phillemon Hlungwani, William Kentridge and Diane Victor, whose explorations of post-modern South African society extend our understanding of the complex contemporary moment. But perhaps the way in which art and bespoke design is built into the very fabric of the architecture at Ellerman House is even more immersive.
The art of wine
In celebration of winemaking and the remarkable story of South Africa’s 350-year old tradition, Harris collaborated with some of South Africa’s leading winemakers, soil scientists, artists and designers to create the Ellerman House Wine Gallery.
“The brief to the creative team was to build a wine gallery that in itself was a work of art and not merely a cellar,” says Harris. “I told them that if they brought me something I had seen before I would reject it!”
The 3.2m-high, 6m-long Corkscrew wine rack by Brian Steinhobel can hold up to 1,500 wine bottles.
The Ellerman House Terroir Wall by Angus Taylor features soil samples taken from 100 local wine farms.
Built in 1906, this Cape Edwardian Style House was purchased in 1988 from Sir John Ellerman of the shipping company Ellerman Bucknall.
The Contemporary Art Gallery, built in 2009, sets Ellerman House apart from other boutique hotels.
The Wine Gallery’s flagship work is a six-metre-long, 3.2m-high, carbon-fibre helix shape, inspired by a corkscrew. Designed by celebrated industrial designer Brian Steinhobel, it juxtaposes technology and tradition – the key themes of the story of South African wine, while serving the function of storing and displaying Ellerman House’s celebrated wine collection. “Although it is a corkscrew in form, when you walk through the storage area it has a powerful impact on the senses,” says Steinhobel. “It is like ambulating through the vines. It is experiential and allows you to feel with the eyes.”
“Like the time-honoured craft of winemaking, the Wine Gallery is an expression of our belief that artisanal skills and cutting-edge technology in art, as in winemaking, are not mutually exclusive,” says Harris.
A commitment to contemporary
Like Ellerman House, BMW Group South Africa has a long-term commitment to contemporary and modern art, with a focus on innovative luxury and individual expression. In a conscious effort to create tomorrow’s luxury today, Ellerman House and BMW Group South Africa will be collaborating on a bespoke BMW 7 Series with BMW Individual Manufaktur. Stay tuned for more.