About the Foundation
Norval Foundation is dedicated to the research, understanding and care of twentieth and twenty-first century visual art from Africa and its diasporas. We realise this commitment through our exhibition, education, publication, and public programming as well as our stewardship of the Homestead Collection. We aim to be a catalyst for contemporary practice through our commissioning of major works by living artists. The Sculpture Garden and outdoor amphitheatre are situated within an indigenous garden and protected wetland. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, Norval Foundation’s unique setting is intrinsic to its character. The Gerard Sekoto Foundation is based at Norval Foundation, as are the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection and the Alexis Preller Archive.
The Norval family founded Norval Foundation, a registered not-for-profit organisation, in 2018. Their ongoing aim is to make art widely available to the public through the creation a self-sustaining centre for art. The proceeds from capital donations are used to secure the Foundation for future generations.
The Homestead Collection
Assembled by the Norval family over the past two decades, the Homestead Collection is one of the leading 20th-century South African art collections. It is committed to an expanded narrative of South African art that includes both African voices and archival materials of established South African modernists.
The Homestead Collection has acquired the Alexis Preller Archive, the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection and the Bruce Campbell Smith Revisions Collection, among others, and also includes in-depth holdings of artists such as Dumile Feni, Peter Clarke, Sydney Kumalo, Maggie Laubser, Ezrom Legae, Trevor Makhoba, John Muafangejo, George Pemba, Gerard Sekoto, Cecil Skotnes, Anton van Wouw, Deborah Bell, Irma Stern, Alexis Preller and Edoardo Villa. It also has a significant collection of books on South African art.
The Norval Foundation was envisioned by DHK Architects as a modern pavilion for art. Set against a mountain and vineyard landscape, it is a pure expression of form.
The building is constrained by its linear site, between a busy road and an existing wetland. The linear shape of the building is a direct response to this, with the galleries and public spaces facing the natural landscape, capturing framed views of the wetland, vineyards and mountains beyond.
The building therefore shields the wetland, creating a private space for the sculpture park, forming a threshold between public and private zones. A triple-volume atrium establishes a deliberate visual connection between these zones, one urban, the other natural, and provides a physical transition between contrasting environments.
The Norval Foundation is experienced in a linear sequence: visitors are greeted by a triple-volume restaurant with a gift shop beyond, flanked by a generous reception area which calmly directs guests to the central atrium that introduces the main galleries.
The gallery spaces comprise a large exhibition venue and a series of six small galleries, culminating in a dramatic triple-volume sculpture gallery. The upper level accommodates offices, library, bar and artist’s residence. Externally there is a large sculpture garden, with an amphitheatre, picnic area and timber deck serving the restaurant.
The Norval Foundation is a celebration of art, architecture and landscape.
The Foundation and Nature
Uniquely situated on the edges of a natural wetland, the Norval Foundation has become the custodian and protector of its indigenous plants and animals.
Specifically, the Foundation has recognised its duty to the western leopard toad, an indigenous species that has come under threat from rapid urbanisation. The toads travel great distances to find safe areas to breed, and in so doing take on the perilous task of crossing major roadways.
The survival of the endangered western leopard toad has been safeguarded through the construction of concrete culverts underneath the Steenberg road to allow the toads safe access to the Norval Foundation wetland for mating.
The building has been specifically designed so as to minimise its environmental impact. A large solar plant on its roof provides the Foundation’s power and feeds excess energy into the local power grid. There is also a grey-water purification system that allows a high degree of independence from municipal water supplies.
Board and Governance
Board of Trustees
Louis Norval – Chair
Karel Nel (Ex Officio)
Owen Martin (Ex Officio)
28 April 2018 – ongoing
The Sculpture Garden at the Norval Foundation features three-dimensional installations by artists from South Africa and the rest of Africa. The unique site, bisected by a protected Cape lowland freshwater wetland and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Western Cape, features flora indigenous to the area. The placement of artwork takes the site into consideration, using the contours of the garden to hide and reveal work, creating an experience of discovery for the viewer. The building has been designed so that the western side gives way onto the Sculpture Garden at multiple points, allowing visitors access from the galleries to the Sculpture Garden and creating connections between exhibitions taking place both inside and outside. The exhibition programme in the Sculpture Garden aims to represent a plurality of practices currently taking place in the region, including artists working with the figure, narrative and mythology, abstraction and post-minimalism, and craft. Artworks will be a mixture of long term loans and work from the Homestead Collection, which are installed permanently.
155 x 250 x 125 cm
Mild steel and stainless steel
351 x 171 x 217.5 cm
Yinka Shonibare CBE
Wind Sculpture SG (III), 2018
Steel armature with hand painted fibreglass resin cast
700 x 254 x 200 cm
375 x 95 x 162 cm
Collection of the artist
Bird Form, 2004
290 x 275 x 140 cm
World on its Hind Legs, 2010
Steel and paint
432 x 312 x 495 cm
345 x 265 x 285 cm
Bronze and mild steel
303 x 121 x 25 cm
Collection of the artist
Belfast Gabbro granite and steel
645 x 605 x 423 cm
Kin, 2015 - 2016
82 x 90 x 110 cm
Collection of the artist
Again Again, 2015
250 x 180 x 260 cm
Riding the Bull I, 2004
182 x 143 x 72 cm
Jake Michael Singer
And All Birds Flew With A Harsh Scream (Marmara), 2020
358 x 206 x 189 cm
Courtesy of the artist and THK Gallery, Cape Town
The Norval Foundation research library is a quiet place of study and academic research. It houses a comprehensive collection of publications, documents and catalogues related to 20th-century South African artists, including primary and secondary sources.
Researchers are welcome to make an appointment to view material in the library.