Welcome to Week 27 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Anton Smit Sculpture Park in Bronkhorstspruit.
I drove slowly up the R25, careful not to miss the turn that would take us to the Anton Smit Sculpture Park. I crested a rise and realized I needn’t have worried. The turn is hard to miss.
Anton Smit is a well known South African sculptor. I’ve seen his work all over the country, most recently at the Delaire Graff Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. But Smit’s largest collection is at his home in Bronkhorstspruit, about 90 minutes northeast of Joburg, where he has a sculpture park and a quirky restaurant/café.
I’m struggling to find words to describe the Anton Smit Sculpture Park. Whimsical comes to mind, but I think surreal is better. There’s something about this mystical yet well-branded grassy hilltop, located inside a luxury housing development that doesn’t belong in the middle of South African nowhere, dotted with mammoth looming faces and muscular legs without torsos and heads missing bodies and clucking chickens and stalking cats, that feels disconnected with reality in a charming yet unsettling way.
Inside the Anton Smit Sculpture Park
There’s a lot to see at this crazy park/museum/gallery/restaurant.
The onsite Imagine Café is appropriately named: This whole place gets the imagination going. Marie-Lais and I sat down for a drink in the café with Anton, but I couldn’t sit still. I kept glimpsing things I had to get up and take pictures of. Anton is jolly and reminds me of an artsy Santa Claus.
The sculpture park is especially pretty around sunset. I recommend visiting on a weekend afternoon, have a leisurely lunch in the garden, then stroll the park as the sun goes down. Just remember you’ve got a relatively long drive home (depending on where you stay in the Joburg-Pretoria area).
The Anton Smit Sculpture Park is on Black Eagle Lane in the Aqua Vista Mountain Estate, Bronkhorstspruit. There is no admission fee. Call +27-82-653-7659.