Inherited Space

This vibrant mosaic piece by Tamlin Blake, Inherited Space, is installed outside the Conference Centre at Spier, and aims to reconnect the architectural spaces with the surrounding gardens, and with the environmental ethics of the estate.

“One of the most striking features at Spier is the dramatic landscape complimented by magnificent gardens. The strong focus on indigenous flora shows respect to the immediate environment and creates a setting which is intrinsically South African. To compliment this the Cheetah Outreach and Eagle Encounters programmes show a further sympathy for the fauna of our country. With these aspects in mind and with the aid of masterly crafted mosaics, I envisage the outside seating area of the conference centre becoming an extension of this landscape and ideology. Imagery of trees and plants will flow across the walls visually reconnecting the different areas of the patio and courtyard with the surrounding gardens. Birds of prey, referenced directly from the birds at Spier, will fly through the designs and in some cases catch prey, symbolizing the use of the building as a conference center and the power play that happens within.

The mosaics will have an organic feel and colours will be kept simple and calm. In this particular part of the design there are two Erithrina trees. They are commonly called coast coral trees and many have recently been planted at Spier. They have thick stems which are covered with numerous prickles and compound leaves which comprise of three pointed leaflets. Attractive orange-red flowers are produced in August and September and are represented here by the bright red triangles which float among the branches of the trees. The two birds represented are barn owls photographed at the bird sanctuary.”

- Tamlin Blake, 2009

Tamlin Blake is a practicing artist based in Riebeek West near Cape Town. She is interested in concepts of belonging and alienation, from indigenous versus alien vegetation, to cultural identity and acceptance on a human level. Her focus is on marginalised art mediums and techniques in an ongoing pursuit to annul the accepted boundaries that exist between illustration, craft and art. Blake majored in sculpture during her undergraduate studies, and then specialised in botanical art and received both her Honours (1999) and Masters Degree (2001) from the University of Stellenbosch. She has exhibited extensively and received many grants and awards, among them a Brett Kebble Merit award in 2003. Her work can be found in the Spier Collection, Nando’s (UK), the South African Breweries Collection, Absolut Vodka and the Bead Merchants of Africa.


Artist: Tamlin Blake

Date: 2009

Location: Spier Conference Centre, Stellenbosch


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