WORDS Juanita Køtzé PHOTOS Merwelene Van Der Merwe
An antiquarian collection was the catalyst for a collaborative art installation that involves rare books, storytelling, beautiful photographs and a stunning bookcase.
This is the story of a rare collection comprising thousands of documents, prints, artworks, and books, books and more books. And intertwined with it is a story of love, heartache and a bunch of creative people, among them a one-of-a-kind photographer and a brilliant cabinetmaker.
Once upon a time, around 1904, a man who sold Singer sewing machines, Frank R Thorold, established Thorolds Bookshop in Johannesburg. After his death, Robin Fryde, an authority on Africana, took over the collection and grew it into an antiquarian treasure trove. And after his passing, a collector named Neillen van Kraayenburg bought it and moved everything to his farm in Kya Sands.
T Neillen, the partner of well-known photographer Merwelene van der Merwe, died unexpectedly in 2015, so she became the custodian of this precious collection on Thorolds Book Farm. Together with her sisters, Hannalie Bruwer en Vanya Matania, Merwelene has been handling, opening, exploring, assessing and considering these treasures. And so, with input from Juanita Køtzé, aka The Rare Librarian, the books have led to new expressions in an artistic collaboration involving Thorolds, The Rare Library and various artists.
One of these artists is furniture designer David Krynauw, who designed and built a bookcase out of solid walnut for exhibiting 31 books dating from 1590 to 1740 on the topics of the law and jurisprudence. It is the first piece in his new Heritage range.
His affinity for Cape Dutch furniture is reflected in this modern interpretation of an armoire, an amazing artwork to complete the installation Vertoonkas, which was performed at the Woordfees in Stellenbosch in March.
The rare-book installation is for sale for R450 000 – call 082 414 9829. Visit the klyntji.com to see a series of photo and video narratives that formed part of Vertoonkas.