Tuesday, June 9, 2009


As a little girl, I remember driving up Harry Smith Street in the car with my parents and marveling at the beautiful white house, built on the side of the hill. It was always so grand, and my favourite part, was watching the guards stand so still beside the big, iron gates – no smiles, no waves, as serious as the Queen’s guards at Buckingham Palace! This beautiful old house was built in 1941 and was the residence of then Governor General of the Union of South Africa. Later is became the official residence for the State Presidents of South Africa and was used approximately once every four years for this purpose.

In 1972, the magnificent old house was named “Oliewenhuis” – due to the large number of olive trees which were growing in the surrounding hills (it means Olive House). Former State President PW Botha released the residence to the National Museum – it became the only art museum of its kind in the Free State and one of the youngest museums in the country.

Oliewenhuis is one of our favourite places to visit when we go to Bloemfontein and I would like to share some of it’s treasures with you!

The idea of a carousel came about when a decision was made to commission a sculpture that would involve more than one artist working in materials not normally used for outdoor public commissions. It was a nation wide project and it’s main theme are contents of African mythology which reflect the diversity of our beautiful country.

It introduces children to the concept of art in a fun, colourful way, and in so doing encourages an audience for the future! The carousel project started in 1994 and took three years to complete. One of the very generous donors who ensured completion of the project was Father Frans Claerhout!

I loved to stand and watch it go around and around, playing those old familar tunes reminding me of bygone days, visitis to the fair, cotton candy and sticky sugar sticks!


Avril said...

Yet another interesting post!!!

There is a Claerhout hanging in the little art gallery at Rust en Vrede (I took a photo of it to show Jeanette). Will add it when I do the post on that wine estate.

Haven't been to Muratie - looked it up straight away in Platters and Google - looks interesting!! Will put it on the list ... which keeps growing and growing ... and growing !!!

Riley Kai said...

I love the carousel! My mom was a history teacher, and in my "older" years I have come to love history. Blogging is so wonderful because I feel like I get to travel and learn about new things from my living room! Thanks for sharing!

Gaelyn said...

I love the carosel, so colorful and representative of the areas wildlife. Great outdoor art.

Just found your blog and enjoyed it much. Especially the sand art from Drakensberg. Hope to see that when I'm in SA in March.

I'll be back.

sarah said...

Looks like a fantastic place to visit!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a brilliant carousel! Wish I could have a ride on it!

Firefly said...

That is quite an interesting idea and concept. Combining art and fun to get everybody to enjoy and appreciate it is quite a clever idea.

pam said...

I love your carousel. I have never seen anything but ponies!

What a beautiful museum, how wonderful that you can visit.