The husband and wife artist-team of Leon Holzapfel and Agatha Ross, display their works in all the guest rooms and in the reception areas, and with a few exceptions they are all for sale. Some of them are displayed along with this narrative, and will be replaced from time to time.
Leon started very young, but a career in architecture did not allow time for painting often.
Agatha started late (in 2007) but her talent was dormant and used in other spheres with great effect and enthusiasm. She is prolific and makes time for painting in spite of many other demands on her skills.
I could draw well (left handed) at a very early age. In my 12th year I started art classes with the Belgium master, Maurice von Esche.
After a considerable time of drawing only, I was introduced to oil painting. He allowed me 8 colours on the palette - no more! Those were white, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, vermillion, burnt sienna, Indian red, cerulean blue and ultramarine. No black - in spite of the fact that he himself used black extensively! And no green - it had to be mixed. One could mix any colour on earth with these 8 colours - so he said. To this day, with the exception of naples yellow which I added, these are still the only colours on my palette! I painted lots of pots, bottles and fruit in those early years. On my own, at home, I would also try flowers.
Von Esche sold his art school to Eric Laubsher, fresh from his art studies in Europe, and much taken by abstract art. My father died in my matric year and I had to abandon my art classes because of a lack of funds, so that I spent only a short time with Eric Laubsher, which was a pity as he could have given me another direction at a very impressionable time of my career. I was to meet Maurice von Esche again during my studies in Architecture, for it was part of the curriculum to follow life drawings in my first year. Von Esche was then head of the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of art.
I can still see him at his easel with the students gathered around him and the Chinese model lying like a Titian "Birth of Venus" in front of him. He, with great concentration, charcoal in hand, wielding it with a flourish while outlining the shapes in flowing lines and saying: "It's like a machine!" Shall I ever forget it? Much later I would learn that Leonardo da Vinci also referred to the human body as "a marvellous mechanism".
At the school of architecture at UCT much emphasis was placed on rendering of designs, usually in water colours, so my talent for painting came in good stead.
At the end of 1959 I had saved enough from the sale of my paintings to afford a trip to Europe to do research on Church architecture which was the theme of my thesis. I also used every opportunity to visit numerous art galleries. I did a lot of sketching so that on the mail boat back to South Africa I started many paintings and was fully occupied in preparing for an exhibition.
My thesis on a Dutch Reformed Church for Welgemoed, gave me great joy in the design and renderings, but it was much criticized for the abundance of symbols and coloured glass that I introduced, which was regarded too avant-garde for a DRC at that time. Two decades later these elements became quite acceptable in reformed churches.
My first (and only, so I thought) exhibition took place in October 1960. It was a one man show and probably too soon, but I got fair comments in the media, and showed "much promise". My great ambition then was to be launched in the field of architecture, I was however to be frustrated beyond words by 3 years in Government service as part of my bursary commitment. I was transferred to Pretoria, where I met Brian Sandrock, architect and an enigma, who would become my mentor for the next 5 and a half years. These were wonderful years and would become the stepping stone to many and varied projects in my career. I can claim that I have done everything from a tree house to a Nuclear Power Station!
Although all the work for which I was commissioned was challenging, I enjoyed interior designs most; of these the best were the Entrance foyer, Senate Hall and Z K Mathews auditorium at Unisa, built 40 years ago (and still in use unaltered) and recently the Miriam Makeeba concert hall. I also did the refurbishing of several buildings at University of Pretoria. Most notable are the Board Room, Reception to the principal's office; the foyer and gallery to the Senate Hall; the Aula auditorium and the Entrance foyers of 8 women's residences.
My biggest project was for the Atomic Energy Board, where our team was involved with The Manufacturing Plant for Nuclear Fuel Elements and later the first indigenous Nuclear Power Plant at Gouriqwa. These were 10 golden years of my life which ended in 1989. Needless to say that for a period of 30 years I had all the fulfilment that a designer could wish for and consequently I rarely felt the urge to paint. I cannot recall that I ever put up paintings for sale for more than 40 years!
When I did start painting again in the early 2000's, I started drawing, and later painting "machines"! The model was good and I worked with pent up enthusiasm once more. Although much had been lost through lack of continuous practice in painting, my mind was stimulated and much more mature, also, I was not out of practice sketching and rendering, for I remained "hands on" in my practice. I have since done several nude studies.
I agree with one of Rembrandt's critics that "the naked body of a woman is the most marvellous subject which a brush can depict". The subjects appear, on canvas, to be unconscious of their surroundings, comfortable in the knowledge that they are alone. It is a pity that so many persons are too embarrassed with paintings of nudes, hardly stealing a glimpse at them, dismissing them as erotic expression, instead of appreciating the intrigue of natural beauty.
The artist has wider perception than normal persons and may discover a moment or a fascination in a situation and portray it in an individual, creative way that goes far beyond a photographic presentation. Sometimes he stumbles onto a complete happening, where everything falls into place in a few moments. The art lies in the discovery & recognition of that moment and to leave the work untouched hence!
A painting may tell a story, or it may attract attention through the arrangement and design of the colour patterns; the allusion of rhythm and movement or the mystery of light and shade. Some times it may be soothing; sometimes surprising and provocative! I have lately observed that many common things, such as bird droppings, fallen leaves and rock surfaces, called breccias, may convey a thrilling experience to an imaginative mind, no less than would a beautiful sunset, occurring once, and only once, never to be repeated again! Some paintings will share those moments with you. It may make you more observant in future to enjoy the full spectrum of Creation, of which we often feel to be at the centre!
Haar volle name is Cornelia Agatha Wilhelmina Rossouw.
Sy is in Graskop gebore en het 'n ewige hunkering na die berge en ook die Bosveld. Sy lief die aardbodem en is self ook aards, sy raak lieries oor die wit stamme van bloekombome.
In die hiernamaals, waar daar sprake is van 'n nuwe hemel en 'n nuwe aarde, sal sy die nuwe aarde kies as blyplek!
Agatha Ross het kunsklasse op skool gevolg. Sy was altyd lief vir teken. Dit sou egter hoogstens as tydverdryf beoefen word, want mens kon tog nie 'n lewe maak uit kuns nie. Sy het haar nie daaroor verknies nie, want sy is veelsydig en het hope energie!
Sy is van nature lief vir mense, lief vir kos maak, en lief vir mooi goed in en rondom die huis en wou sy leer om al hierdie dinge self te doen.
Sy het verskeie kursusse in die maak van klere gevolg. Sy, wat in 'n Dalene van den Bergh skepping getrou het ('n rok wat haar persoonlikheid pragtig na vore gebring het) kon verskeie bruide heerlik fraai laat voel in 'n uitrusting wat saam met haar uitroep: "Dis net ekke daai!"
Op 'n stadium het Agatha ook modeontwerp gedoen en vertoon onder haar modenaam: Agatha Ross. Sy het nog al die kledingstukke self gemaak, selfs gebreide rokke.
Met binneshuisversiering het sy geleer om stoffering te doen en het die fisiese werk self uitgevoer. Gordyne was makliker om te maak, want hier het sy die voorbeeld van Brunhilde Müller gehad. 'n Vrou uit Duitsland wat met haar uitstekende opleiding die fynste kunsies in materiaalverwerking kon oordra.
Agatha kon my help as argitek met binneshuisversiering soos met die restourasie van die Royal Hotel te Pilgrim's Rest.
Kookkuns was altyd hoog op in haar voorkeure, komende van 'n plaas waar elke soort vrug en groente, en selfs vleis, ingemaak is. Sy het by ander geleer soos die Cordon Bleu kursus by Letitia Prinsloo, toe nog in Pretoria, en soos elke goeie kok, idees "gesteel" net waar sy ook al gaan. Sy het keurige spyseniering aangebied vir 8 tot 200 mense en doen dit nog steeds.
Sy het groot genot gevind in die samestelling van 'n koffietafelboek: "Die apfels val nie vêr van die boom nie" met die 100-jarige fees van die Holzapfel-familie in 2003. Die boek is nie net 'n foto-album nie, maar bevat 50 resepte wat met die aanwas van die familie saamgekom het. Al hierdie resepte is voorberei en gefotografeer vir vertoning in hierdie praguitgawe.
Sy is lief vir stories en kan ook kinderstories vertel, haar verbeelding het ook uitgeloop op 'n storieboek: "Die Maankinders" wat sy self geíllustreer het.
In 2000 het sy geïnteresseerd geraak in materiaalskilder vir tafeldoeke en muurbehangsels. Sy het klas geloop by Jaco Schoeman en pragstukke vir haar eie huis en die familie gelewer.
Al hierdie gawes en energie het natuurlik tot hul reg gekom in die gastehuis wat sy bedryf, reeds vanaf 1995. Die naam Rosslie vir die gastehuis kom ook uit haar nooiensvan en is my bynaam vir haar!
En toe het die olieverf-gogga haar gebyt! In 2007 het sy begin skilderklasse neem by Susan Pretorius en het met rasse skrede ontwikkel. Sy wil enige iets teken wat haar verbeelding prikkel, en is daarom ook baie produktief.
Dit is nie verbasend dat in die jaar van die boom haar hooftema bome was nie, of meer spesifiek, boomstamme. Sy het einde 2011 'n draai in Australia gemaak en daar het hulle woude vol van haar geliefde bloekombome! Die tema kom dus kort-kort na vore.
Sy is lief vir diere en die plaasmeisie in haar laat haar oï maklik na beeste en perde draai. Sy het ook die moeilike terrein van portrette aangedurf en daarvan kan jy aflei dat sy vreesloos is! Sy het weereens haar gewend tot 'n mentor op hierdie gebied en kry sy klas by die bekende Willie Jacobs.
Sy is passievol in wat sy skilder, die genieting wat sy daaruit put, straal uit haar werk, sy wil nog baie lank lewe, want daar is nog so veel wat sy wil skilder!
Ross beteken perd in Duits en Rosslie is 'n klein perdjie - maar vir my spel dit GENOT, groot of klein!
Autumn on the Rocks: R1,700
Oil/canvas; 600x500; unframed
Boat Reflections; R1,550
Oil/canvas; 400x400; unframed
Tel: 012 348 3047
Cell: 083 679 2327
133 Camellia Avenue,
Co-ordinates: lon 2817.6390; lat 2545.4553