Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our recent outing to Simon's Town.

We haven't been on an outing in a while-winter weather, winter illnesses and a need to stay indoors has kept us at home. So I thought that it would be good to get the kids out to continue our exploration of Simon's Town.

My plan was to visit the Heritage Museum but when we arrived at 10:00 we discovered that it only opened at 11:00. Not wanting to waste the opportunity of being out I decided to take my chances on visiting the Bronze Art Gallery just across the road. When we looked through the doors it looked like they had closed down as everything was grouped together in one corner and not displayed neatly on shelves. But, luckily for us, there was a lady working inside who opened the doors to let us in explaining that they no longer function as a gallery but they still create the bronze works there. And that's where our fun began!
I asked if we could do a behind the scenes tour and was surprisingly allowed to enter the workshop unassisted. We entered through large glass doors to the smell of melting wax and bunsen burner gas. As there was nobody to guide us I started asking questions of the ladies working at the workbenches. They seemed to be working with wax! Wasn't this a bronze sculpture house? After a few questions and photographs a very enthusiastic man decided he would give us our own special tour.

So here goes. I'm going to try to remember the whole tour for you:

The whole process starts with a sculpture. But not one of bronze. It can be wood, clay or any other medium which is easier to mould or carve. If the sculpture is a large one they "break" it into smaller parts.

This is a large sculpture (of a very thin Madiba) which they were supposed to use for the World Cup Soccer, but it hasn't made it to the bronzing stage.

After dismantling the original sculpture they make a rubber mould of it. These are moulds of smaller soccer sculptures.

The rubber mould is then filled with hot wax. When the hot wax is removed from the rubber it looks like the original art work, well mostly. If it doesn't this is where the bunsen burners and blades come into the process. Using a heated tool, workers neaten the wax works.

The wax statue is then taken to be dipped into another formula-which we were told is another type of wax.....

and is then covered in sand. This whole process is repeated around three times with different types of sands each time.

In between each dipping it is left to be dried by fans.

Once the sand is dry the "sand" statue is placed in a large sand pit. Now you have a hollow sand statue, lined with wax. Or so I understood?! The bronze is then heated in this large pot and poured into the hollow statue, melting the wax.

Our tour guide shortened the tour here. But basically there's a sandblasting procedure next, followed by a burning/colouring procedure. And the end result....

Something like this! Fascinating for me, think we lost the kids at the sand covering stage-but they still enjoyed all the business and interesting new apparatus to look at.

By this time it was close to 11:00 so we walked on over to the Heritage Museum. This museum was created in the memory of the Muslim community which had been forcibly removed in the early 70's. I never knew that the original Simon's Town community had consisted of mainly Muslims and I'd never learnt about the fact that this community had also been forcibly removed. We had always only heard about the District Six community being removed. This is why I love visiting museums-I hated learning History at school-but learning South African history right here on my doorstep makes History so much more interesting!

The museum is small but it is filled with memorabilia from bygone days. Photographs of the Muslim community cover the walls. There's a traditional eats table filled with examples of typical Malay foods.

And lots of old kitchen utensils to look at and learn how people from the past lived.

Jenna enjoyed looking at the Bridal gowns in both Bridal rooms where there are examples of wedding attire for children too.

Michael was sure that granny had one of these-no she doesn't use it still, it's just on display in her hallway.

The owner of the house is very keen to share his memories with you as he guides you through the rooms. He enjoyed showing the kids the old games he played.

Can you believe that this old newspaper kite would survive the Simon's Town winds?

Jen's highlight was seeing this doll all dressed up in it's finery-this is how Muslim babies are dressed for their dedication ceremony.

We enjoyed this museum, although it was small, it was interesting to get a peek into the history of another culture. A lovely morning spent covering History and Art in one outing!