The art of living
‘I don’t like to live with clutter, although I find it interesting in other people’s houses,’ says Galia Gluckman. It’s a reasonable comment from a woman who is a wife, the mother of two children and ‘mother’ to two dogs, and who works from home and runs her household like an MD.
But Galia isn’t your average housewife. She’s also an acclaimed mixed-media artist whose work is as untamed as it is controlled and intricate, an intriguing paradox that appeals to collectors, corporate and private, around the world.
Her observation about other people’s clutter might seem flippant but it provides insight into her work, which is informed by the everyday tensions between chaos and order. Her large-scale textured artworks are mesmerising – you can spend time getting lost in her detailed use of vibrant colour, crafted shapes, and textures achieved through tiny strips of multi-pigmented cotton paper.
‘I’ve always been drawn to collage to create abstract landscapes and cityscapes,’ she says. ‘This culminated in my most recent solo exhibition, “Scapes”, at Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town. It was an exploration of the fine line between order and disorder in our modern lives.’
How she and her husband, Gary, came to live in their beautifully curated family home provides further insight. ‘We moved from Long Island, New York, to Cape Town in 2010 to be closer to family. There was a definite adjustment period of letting go of the fast-paced life over there, and while I still miss the expansive arts and culture scene in New York and living in an incubator of innovation, what I received in return was coming home, not being treated as a foreigner with an accent, the nature walks that are practically outside our front door, and having more elbow room to move,’ she says.
Located in a cul-de-sac in Constantia, the Gluckmans’ home offers plenty of elbow room, while the views onto the abundant wildness of the Constantia forests, interspersed with neat, patterned vineyards, befit Galia’s themes of order versus chaos. Inside, the home shows angular open-plan spaces that hold the couple’s neatly and eclectically curated collectables, all framed by her impressive body of work (there’s a piece on almost every wall).
Although it had good bones, the home still underwent a necessary renovation before every centimetre of the 350m2 interior could house the Gluckmans, their artwork and the selected pieces they’ve consciously gathered over the years. The refurb included the removal of interior walls to reflect the open surrounds of Constantia, the installation of wide-planked oak floors and the inclusion of a guest bathroom.
Galia admits that her curation process is ongoing (a notion to which anyone with an appreciation for aesthetics can relate), but the common thread is a sophisticated, modernist look that accommodates the bold artworks with ease. ‘I love restored mid-century furniture and try to save pieces by refurbishing them. My general rule of thumb is “less is more”, and I stay clear of cheap homeware thrills – they become expensive and hard to get rid of,’ she says.
Her favourite space in the home is her children Ella and Levi’s playroom, an expansive, elevated area where pre-teen chaos abounds on one side, while an effortless retro lounge area flanked by a beautifully composed tableau sits in contrast on the other. Here, a chest of drawers, a bright-yellow artwork and an organically shaped vessel that was designed as part of a collaborative series with ceramic artist Martine Jackson provide a sophisticated foil to the cheerful children’s paraphernalia.
The large windows of the playroom let in beautiful natural light, offset by the panoramic mountain views. ‘Gary and I love to sneak in here and have our first cup of coffee in the morning before the kids are awake.
It’s become a bit of a ritual,’ Galia says. It’s the perfect spot from which to appreciate nature’s ever-present paradox. ‘There’s tranquillity in Constantia’s natural beauty, specifically the unruly mountains and endless fynbos, as well as the vineyards,’ comments Galia.
It’s a fitting metaphor for her home, where the perfect balance between chaos and order reveals exceptional beauty.
Galia’s favourite hangouts in Constantia include:
La Belle for brunch and the Rose Bar for a glass of wine – find both at The Alphen Boutique Hotel; Acrobranch on Constantia Nek with the kids; Art in the Forest for its beautiful handmade ceramics; and The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort for ‘occasion’ dinners.
- Galia Gluckman: galiagluckman.com
- Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town: everard-read-capetown.co.za
- Martine Jackson: martinejackson.com
- The Alphen Boutique Hotel: alphen.co.za
- Acrobranch: acrobranch.co.za
- Art in the Forest: artintheforest.com
- The Cellars-Hohenort: collectionmcgrath.com
Text: Genevieve Putter
Photographs: Karl Rogers