le quartier français

Catching up with Ilse Schermers

Ilse Schermers, of is art at Le Quartier Français supplied and curated the art work for Vergelegen’s restaurants, Stables and Camphor’s— and now the wine estate has been recognised as the South African winner of the Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Best of Wine Tourism Awards!

We caught up with Ilse to chat about her unique approach.

Ilse and her two children enjoying a relaxed moment

Ilse and her two children enjoying a relaxed moment

Can you tell me a bit about each space?
The Stables is set in the old stables of the farm and is designed as an up-market family restaurant. The interior is bright and light yet tasteful. A number of things came to mind when I selected the art for both restaurants, such as the heritage of the farm, the magnificent gardens and the activity currently on the estate. For example, because of the famous gardens we wanted to show botanicals and for this reason I chose alternative botanical tapestries by the Keiskamma group.


Additionally, as the space was formerly the estate’s stables I chose ceramic horse heads for the walls by Nicolene Swanepoel and a large driftwood horse as a focal point by Francois Marais.

Vergelegen is also known for its Nguni stud, so for this we chose ox heads by Nicolene Swanepoel and a large painting by Gregory Kerr. Works by Jacqueline Crewe-Brown, Strijdom van den Merwe and various ceramic works by Helen Vaughan, Clementina van der Walt and Ralph Johnson are also on display.

Camphors restaurant at Vergelegen - Long room

The palette at Camphor’s is much more formal and rich.  I selected works by some of our more important contemporary artist like William Kentridge, Willem Strydom, Henry Symonds, Marlene von Durkheim, Shany van den Berg and Lyndi Sales. Helen Vaughan made wall plates based on the blue and white Kraakporcelain seen in the Manor House next to Camphor’s.  Michael Chandler made mirrors and spittoons also reflective of the VOC.  In both restaurants, we selected works by South African living artists.

When approaching a space to populate with art – what are the things that you consider, how do you decide on your final selections?
My opinion is that one should always be able to read a project as a complete story. The art should reflect the integrity of the space, the mood, the history, the menu, and so on. I want to be well informed of everything relevant to the space.  However it is the person in charge of the project, in this case the MD of Vergelegen, Don Tooth, who has the final say.

Who is your favourite SA artist, or artists and why?
Sjoe, difficult to say. I have many favourites, but I am constantly inspired by what our artists produce and how much new talent emerges every year.

Do you have advice for people who want to start collecting art – how do you begin, and what do you need to know?
Make informed decisions.  Buy what you love. Buy the best you can afford.

The most exciting piece at is art at the moment is….
A bronze snake by Sarel Petrus on his exhibition with Rina Stuzer titled ‘Pegged Down/Vaspen’.

What exhibitions do we have to look forward to next year?
We have a full year planned for 2014 with exhibitions by Bruce Attwood (furniture), Fiona Rowett and Ralph Johnson, sculpture by Kobus la Grange and Guy du Toit, and one of our favourite artists of Franschhoek:  Jacqueline Crewe Brown.  We also take part in the Art of Clay Festival as well as the Literary Festival each year.

Your favourite cocktail at the LQF bar is
The mojito!

In 2010 Ilse opened her latest gallery at Le Quartier Français   The exhibitions of contemporary South Africa artists change every six to eight weeks . The gallery spills out into the sculpture and herb garden, designed by Guy du Toit and Angus Taylor and filled with herbs for  Margot Janse’s  kitchens at Le Quartier Français.  The sculptures have become an integral part of the restaurant and hotel gardens.

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Franschhoek, Is Art, Is Art @ Le Quartier Français,
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