Direct Booking

Book directly with us.

Guest Enquiry

Not ready to book just yet? Submit an enquiry and our team will be in touch within 24 hours.

16 February, 2023

Introducing Guests to the Riches of African Art

The Silo Hotel

Irene Boaventura was seven years old, and her brother Phillip just four, when they arrived in South Africa from Angola in 1998. Civil war in their home country had driven many families to leave in search of structure, stability, and safety elsewhere.

Fleeing conflict, finding purpose

“South Africa at the time provided that safe haven,” says Irene, pronounced Ee-reh-nee. “The education my brother and I received early on through schooling was hugely valuable as a means to further opportunity, growth, and freedom.”

After school, Irene worked two jobs to pay for her brother’s degree in Accounting, and support them both while she simultaneously completed an internship with the International Hotel School, signifying the determination that ultimately set her up to climb Cape Town’s premium hospitality ladder. When The Silo Hotel opened in 2017, six months before Zeitz MOCAA opened below it, Irene’s impressive CV landed on the desk of General Manager, Luis Penheiro, and she was swiftly hired onto The Silo’s inaugural team.

A life in art

Today, six years later, Irene manages The Silo’s private art collection and inventory, museum loans, guest VIP art tours and purchases, and has a personal relationship with The Royal Portfolio owner, Liz Biden, whose unique understanding and interpretation of art is a language all of its own.

Irene’s is an inspiring story of determination and courage, following one’s path, and discovering the golden thread that connects people from all walks of life. For Irene, that thread is art. In this interview, we hear from Irene herself about the formation of her career, her views on art in the context of Cape Town, Africa, and abroad. It’s a read that will leave you itching to seek out galleries in your hometown, and yearning to visit the cultural hub of Cape Town, South Africa’s Mother City.

What was your early exposure to art and when was your interest really triggered?

My first introduction to art was at primary school in South Africa. I was part of the art club programme and simply loved it. Over the years I guess I kept it up!

What role does Zeitz MOCAA play in the international art scene?
Zeitz MOCAA is one of the most important new museums in the global art scene. It’s the first-ever major institution dedicated exclusively to artists from across the African continent and its diaspora. The development includes 6,000 square metres of exhibition space in 80 gallery spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, state-of-the-art storage and conservation areas, a bookshop, a restaurant, bar, and reading rooms. The museum also looks to house centres for a Costume Institute, Photography, Curatorial Excellence, the Moving Image, Performative Practice and Art Education.

Who is an emerging African artist/s to watch?

The Silo Hotel has an exciting project with the Stevenson Gallery that will refocus how we support and give rise to emerging artists from Africa. I won’t give too much away as we are yet to launch the exhibition, but for our first exhibition in The Vault – The Silo’s private art gallery – in collaboration with Stevenson, we are pleased to present the work of four artists from STAGE, an exhibition series focusing on young, unrepresented artists.

Stevenson has hosted a number of projects aimed at giving the next generation of artists a platform within the gallery system. Some notable alumni are Athi-Patra Ruga, Lerato Shadi, Serge Alain Nitegeka, Lady Skollie, Simon Gush, and Igshaan Adams.

An artist I am excited to watch is Johannesburg-based artist and writer Khanyisile Mawhayi, who presented a series of drawings and photographic works that examine various influences on identity formation and explore perceptions of cultural and societal belonging.

What is the art event of the year in Cape Town?

Cape Town has had a vibrant art scene for a while now, driven by its top galleries, diverse cultural heritage, and geographic beauty. The Cape Town Art Fair brings the best art coming from Africa and abroad into one space.

Investec Cape Town Art Fair is proud to host its 10th anniversary edition from 17-19 February 2023. The event offers an intimate experience of the largest contemporary art fair in Africa, in one of the world’s most vibrant art cities. With 106 exhibitors, 23,000 visitors, 6,000 VIPs, and a supportive local art community, the fair provides a platform for collectors, galleries, curators, artists, and art journalists from around the globe to engage and create connections.

The 10th anniversary will explore the notion of time – a theme appropriately wide-ranging and which encompasses ideas related to the past, present, and future, including the ever-important concept of change that comes with the passing of time both for humans and the world around us.

How does art connect visitors/tourists to a destination?

When Cape Town was selected as a World Design Capital in 2014, it reinvented itself from being just a beautiful tourist destination to an art and cultural destination as well. What we are witnessing in Cape Town is the birth of a new art capital in Africa, and guests travelling to the city want to learn, discover, and connect with the creative makers. Art has a way of bringing even the most diverse people together because how each one perceives is different, and this difference allows for open dialogues on our beliefs, cultural identity and notions of beauty in a non-confrontational way.

The Silo has its own Vault gallery, but do the majority of guests want to visit Zeitz MOCAA next door?

The main attraction of our grain silo building is Zeitz MOCAA and almost every guest at the hotel visits the museum. The Vault acts as the hotel’s dedication to support local artists in Cape Town and showcases a small selection of art available to buy.

Are guests at The Silo Hotel mostly art collectors or art lovers?

I would say we get a good international mix of art collectors, architects, interior designers, creative tech entrepreneurs who all share the same passion for the arts. Honestly, I believe that if you love art, you will eventually become a collector as well. Being an art collector or lover gives you the privilege to surround yourself with something that is both meaningful to you and beautifies your space.

Is there an interest in contemporary African art?

Contemporary Art From Africa Is Seizing Global Attention. A good signal of this is the number of international auction houses and galleries which are introducing contemporary African art to new buyers/collectors in Europe, Asia and America. The seeds are there: strong art schools, powerful intuitions such as Norval Foundation and Zeitz MOCAA, a growing number of high-net-worth individuals, and rapid urbanisation. Meanwhile, museums in Europe and North America have hosted an unprecedented number of shows of African art in recent years, while art fairs dedicated to the field have sprung up worldwide, including 1-54 in New York, Marrakech, and London. The most dynamic emerging art capitals include Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dakar, Lagos, and Marrakech.

Do guests ever want to buy the art in their rooms or the hotel?

All the time – they even want to take the art in the bathroom with them! Luckily Cape Town has some of the best commercial art galleries with works available to buy. I normally take guests on an art tour of the city and we can buy from private studios, auction houses, and galleries.

Do you find guests want to see art at wine farms or other museum venues like Norval, National Gallery, Irma Sterne Museum?

The art tour offering at The Silo is curated based on guest interests. If they love sculpture then the Norval Foundation is definitely on the list. Our Winelands Art Tour is perfect for guests wanting to discover collections in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek as well as enjoy a wine tasting experience at some of the best wine farms.

Your journey is an inspiration. Why do you do what you do?

It’s not everyday that one can create the flow of their work to include their passion, but when you find it, it’s the drive to everything you do. I work for the most amazing hotelier and art collector, Liz Biden, and the knowledge I have gained from her over the years has led me to where I am. My tool to inspire others is art. I love it when I can show someone something different and see how that inspires them to want to discover or rediscover what Africa has to offer.

To find out more about Art Tours at The Silo Hotel with Irene Boaventura, visit: Art Tours – The Silo Hotel.
For more information, please contact: info@thesilohotel.com 

Watch Art at The Silo Hotel video here:

Share this blog:

    Telegram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Art & Culture

The experience at The Silo Hotel is focused on the art, food and culture of Cape Town while celebrating the exquisite natural beauty of South Africa’s Mother City.

The Silo Spa

An oasis of peace and relaxation offering a regenerative journey towards healing your physical and spiritual well-being.

Cape Town

Surrounded by dramatic mountains and sandy beaches, Cape Town is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Art & Culture

The experience at The Silo Hotel is focused on the art, food and culture of Cape Town while celebrating the exquisite natural beauty of South Africa’s Mother City.

The Silo Spa

An oasis of peace and relaxation offering a regenerative journey towards healing your physical and spiritual well-being.

Cape Town

Surrounded by dramatic mountains and sandy beaches, Cape Town is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Art & Culture

The experience at The Silo Hotel is focused on the art, food and culture of Cape Town while celebrating the exquisite natural beauty of South Africa’s Mother City.