Artsy park along with delicious grub

Mzansi's hip moms were treated to more than just wine and sunshine at the annual Nirox Park Mother's Day affair last weekend.

The seventh annual American Express Winter Sculpture Fair saw the 15ha park dotted with a variety of larger-than-life art pieces.

And the food on offer also captured the artistic flair.

On the line-up was award-winning chef Christiaan Campbell who offered farm-style organic food in the form of miniature beef burgers and other easy-to-eat meals. In a demonstration of his artistry, we got to taste roasted atlas carrots and citrus alongside steamed dumplings made of organic pecan nuts with wild sage and toasted spice seeds.

He says organic food is ideal to get us through the chilly season. It's not surprising that Campbell, 51, The Werf restaurant executive chef, was the American Express dining awards winner for 2018/2019.

Campbell shines the light on farm-to-table eating as well as ethically sourced produce.

Originally from the Western Cape, he says: "Our responsibility as chefs is to showcase the natural beauty that comes out of home-grown produce in a more creative form."

He says as a food activist bringing awareness in the way food is produced and the ethics behind the broken food chain is important in this fast-paced world.

"Be aware of what you eat."

Campbell says his beef tastes so good because the best time to slaughter is when the cattle are three-and-a-half to four years old. "Our meat has got amazing full body flavours, slightly nutty with great depth."

As a professional chef for more than 31 years, he learnt the art of cooking from his parents. He also spent two years in the navy. He says being a chef has taught him to persevere in tough conditions. It's a great foundation to put his passion into "sensitive cooking".

Strolling through the park, a thought-provoking flower series by Zimbabwean-born artist Gerald Machona, 33, catches your attention.

Machona says his work stems from his experience in sculpturing, new media, photography and film.

His most notable work is his innovative use of currency, particularly the decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars, as an aesthetic material.

His series of floral sculptures is derived from various national flowers and the pieces are constructed out of demonetised currency as a representation of national identity.

"The glass display dome is meant to evoke a time capsule. I imagine the objects I embed in them as a catalogue for the future generation to unravel and interrogate. To scrutinise the way migration, nationalism and the flow of capital operated in our period," he says.

He says he was inspired by Jean Comaroff and John L Comaroff's journal article Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse and the Postcolonial State.

"In this paper they were drawing parallels between the king protea and the bout of xenophobic violence that was happening in the country in 2008. What they were trying [to show is that] when you look at the parallels, African foreign nationals coming into SA, the same could be said about how the flower was natural and rooted in the land, colonial borders were drawn as a result African immigrants to SA are perceived in some way in a negative light.

"The complexity of the material itself ... it's a political material. The biggest struggle for me is the symbolism, in trying to put together something that can be read in so many different ways because people relate to it differently," he says.

He says he had to be quite delicate with how he used the material and try to speak in a way that is not necessarily polarised. His work, and the other interesting pieces dotted around the park, can be viewed until July 31.

It's the perfect place for a family day out in the countryside.

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