Wonderful news for the preservation of our rich Karoo Heartland culture and heritage is the newly formed Walter Battiss Foundation in Somerset East.
Walter Battiss was a South African artist, who called Somerset East and Karoo his home, and is generally considered the foremost South African abstract painter, known as the creator of the quirky “Fook Island” concept.
Born in 1906 in Somerset East, Battiss travelled extensively and his open-minded approach perhaps shocked more conservative viewers in his lifetime. He has been described as the “gentle anarchist” with a joy of life, appreciation of beauty and sensual treatment of the human form.
The Foundation wants to ensure the Walter Battiss legacy in perpetuity, and become a self-sustainable entity. The foundation is inspired by what Battiss stood for, and wants to create an awareness within an individual to be able to express themselves through art. The Walter Battiss Art Museum boasts the largest permanent exhibition of his artworks.
The Karoo Heartland has a very rich food heritage and one way visitors experience the Eastern Cape Karoo is through meals shared with friends and family, generations-old recipes and the short distance our food travels from field to fork. The Karoo Heartland is thrilled to be hosting a group of Dutch food writers this week as they eat and drink their way through our beautiful region, accompanied by representatives from East Cape Parks & Tourism and the Karoo Heartland, and photographer & blogger My Karoo Life.
Our guests are from “De Telegraaf”, the largest daily newspaper in the Netherlands, “Oog voor Afrika“, a seasonal glossy travel magazine and “Foodies Magazine Netherlands“, a monthly glossy magazine for foodies. We cannot wait to show them our beautiful region, as they do the “Karoo Crawl” road trip visiting towns in the Karoo Heartland, Eastern Cape.
Tney will be visiting the towns of Somerset East, Bedford, Cradock, Nieu-Bethesda and Graaff Reinet as they sip and savour their way through our Karoo food culture. Follow their foodie journey with us on the hashtag #KarooHeartland
Three exciting new e-books have been launched by the Karoo Space publishing team.
Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit of Karoo Space in Cradock have been hard at work all winter, compiling and publishing their brand-new series of e-books, Karoo Life I to III.
The authors, well-known for their Karoo Keepsakes series of glossy printed books, have ventured into the e-book sphere with a large selection of priceless stories and photographs on all aspects of interest in the Karoo.
“We as publishers now have the freedom to create more and more books on this great region,” says Chris Marais.
“We are not bound by the tyranny of expensive print prices and the costs of hard copy distribution. It’s all about content now, and communicating directly with the reader-traveller.”
He adds that being able to update and re-edit e-book content is a great advantage.
The new books are packed with characters and places, creatures and cultures.
“Everything and everyone tells a story,” says Marais.
From tigers in the Free State canyons to magnificent Victorian hotels in the desert, from a windmill safari to a mission deep into the Richtersveld and all points in-between, Karoo Life I is the beginning of your journey back to the heart of South Africa.
Karoo Life II is a merry mix of spotted cows, wandering Zen masters, Goths in black coats rootling about their local dumpsite, the elegance of a Mother Church, the exuberance of waking up on a faraway guest farm and the pure adventure of following the raging Orange River as it rampages through the Heartland on a summer flooding.
Karoo Life III takes on the issues of water and the great question of how one moves from the city to the platteland.
The authors take you to a Karoo wedding, following that up with a drive along the heart-stopping little mountain back-roads of the Little Karoo.
You camp out with them at the extraordinary AfrikaBurn Festival in the Tankwa Desert and then they walk you through a seven-year relationship with a magical Northern Cape village called Williston.
“If you love the back roads and little dorpies of the dry South African heartland that is the Karoo, you have two choices,” says Roxanne Reid, a writer and traveller from Cape Town.
“You can fill up with high-priced fuel and go exploring on four wheels, or you can put yourself in the hands of authors Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit and let them be your virtual guides.”