It’s the low key openings, without fanfare, that are often the most exciting. Luvey ‘n Rose on Rose Street in Bo Kaap opened earlier this week as a coffee shop, art gallery, antique shop, adding wines once the liquor licence has been approved, and soon to be a permanent artist’s residence too.
Owned by Ignatius Claassen, an erstwhile actuary who decided to go it alone and start a completely different business, the business is located in a historic pink painted three storey building on Rose Street. Ignatius cannot find the date of the completion of the building, but it is sturdily built, and he does know that there was a workshop downstairs, a button factory in the middle, and that it had an apartment on the top floor. In the early days, when Cape Town’s cobble stone streets were tarred, the building was owned by a shoe and trouser tar-protection clog manufacturer.
Ignatius grew up in Despatch in the Eastern Cape, and took art as a school subject until Std 7, and says that he can draw and paint. In the army (he was part of the last intake) he made money from his army friends by drawing them, which portraits they sent to their girlfriends and parents, as they could not send photographs in those days. When some starting receiving what he called ‘Dear Johnny’ relationship-ending letters, they felt that the drawings were jinxed, and so a promising art career came to an end. However, Ignatius’ interest in art never waned, and he bought works at auctions, from art galleries, and from artist friends directly in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, and in Johannesburg where he lived for part of his career. A short-lived guest house career followed, until he sold two properties, moved to Cape Town, found the property, and put his money into art and antiques. It was meeting up with his school friend Paul Noppe Adams that was a sign to change direction, and his children living in the Cape that made him settle in Cape Town. He and Noppe live in the building, and Ignatius’ neat bedroom (reflecting his army training, he laughs) is open to view, as is the bathroom, as they contain art works that are for sale too.
Ignatius is quite philosophical about art, saying that one buys a work because of an emotional bond that it creates with the purchaser. He buys works that appeal to him personally, that he would want to hang in his own home. He will sometimes buy a piece for the concept, and not for its beauty, he said.
The first two floors are filled with art works from artists such as JH Pierneef, Walter Battiss (left), Shaney van den Bergh (photograph right, unusual in being painted on woven paper strips), Penny Siopis, Peter Clarke, Paul Emsley (once an art lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch and now lives in the UK, whose recent portrait of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was controversial), Wayne Barker, Stanley Pinker, and Alexandra Ross. A table is dedicated ‘as a shrine’ to the late David Botha, with prints and drawings available for sale. The third floor will be dedicated to the use of a studio apartment for a promising artist, and the first resident will be Johannes Phokela, a Soweto-born Masters in Painting graduate from the Royal College of Art and one of the artists chosen to represent our country at the International Venice Biennale later this year. The view from his apartment is onto Table Bay harbour, and onto the colourful Bo Kaap, a stimulating inspiration for the artist.
The two floors are filled with an array of furniture, none matching, but forming clusters of seating, firstly available to buy, but also to invite one to sit down, to meet with friends or with clients and colleagues, over a good cup of Deluxe coffee (made in a mean-looking Sevruga coffee machine) and a Cuban cigar, with Buena Vista Social Club or Cesaria Evoria as background music. The windows are big and let in light, uplifting in the winter months to come. The latest newspapers are available, as are art books for one to peruse.
They are not offering a restaurant service, but have partnered with Jason’s on Bree Street, in carrying his menu. At a R15 surcharge paid by the customer, the order is collected from them by scooter and delivered back, it taking 16 minutes from placing the order to the BAB (Bacon, Avo, and Brie) sandwich (R55) being delivered. On the coffee table where we sat was a book called ‘No, It Is’, in which William Kentridge sketches have been printed inside over the book copy.
Luvey ‘n Rose is sure to become cult. It is laid back, friendly, and a most unusual environment in which to meet others, or just to have a quiet moment away from others!
Luvey ‘n Rose, 21 Rose Street. Bo Kaap, Cape Town. Cell 0835577156 Facebook page. Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 18h00 (opening times variable, to be adjusted once the liquor licence has been received). Wifi to come.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www,whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage