Family friendly

Conductors of the Karoo Art

Fri Mar 8, 15:00 - Sun Mar 10, 15:00

Karoo Art Hotel


8-10 March 2024

Rian Malan, Guy Tillim, Hannah Loewenthal and
Lloyd Ross take the baton


Friday Evening
Die Geheim van Slangfontien 
"The best film ever made in South Africa”
Andrew Kenny - The Citizen
With Lloyd Ross & Rian Malan in conversation 

Saturday Morning
With international dance, movement and Yoga instructor

Walk about with 

Saturday Afternoon 
 from the collaboration of 

Shifty Records 

Saturday Evening 
Formerly known as Vermaaklikheid Bakkery Orkes 

Sunday Morning
Movie Screening: The Voice Behind The Wall - A history of South African Music


Did you hear the one about the author, the dancer and the photographer who crossed the desert in dusty bakkies before stumbling into the bar at the end of the universe, where they fell in love and decided to form a band?
Okay, just kidding. But aspects of this yarn are true.  Guy Tillim’s photographs are found in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.  Hannah Lowenthal is a grand master of the 5Rhythms school of dance and movement, a teacher whose classes are over-subscribed in locations as diverse as Oslo, New York and Vermaaklikheid.
Vermaaklikheid? Well exactly.  It’s a remote village where Guy and Hannah once baked and sold sourdough bread, hence the band’s original name, Vermaaklikheid Bakery Orchestra or VBO. Sadly, the bakery was killed by Covid lockdowns, whereupon the band became known as Was Daar, which is also the title of a faux swing tune by Rian Malan, the third business in this opera. Rian was once indeed an author of note, best known for his My Traitor’s Heart
Malan lives in the lonely settlement of Van Wyksdorp, where the streets have no names and tarred roads are unknown. Van Wyksdorp has one restaurant only; in Vermaakliheid, there’s no nightlife at all. So when the sun sets our subjects drive enormous distances on bad roads for the pleasure of drinking, eating and playing obscure folk musics together – American country western, Argentinian tango, local vastrap and JewGypsy tunes from long ago and far away. 
Was Daar recently completed a pre world tour of the likes of Barrydale, Stilbaai and even Merweville. They feel they are now ready for even greater things, including weddings, barmitzvahs and diplomatic cocktail parties.

Guy Tillim made his bones as a conflict photographer during The Struggle, in which he featured as a founder member of the activistic Afrapix collective. After 1994 he moved on to wars elsewhere, where he strung for the likes of Reuters and the New York Times. Somewhere along the line, gallerist Michael Stevenson decided that Tillim was an artist, rather than a news photographer. This came as a pleasant surprise to a man accustomed to risking his life for almost nothing. Next thing he’d become a star in the international art firmament. Freed at last from penury, Guy bought some good guitars and formed an alliance with the legendary Roger Bashew, who produced Wrongman, his critically acclaimed debut as a singer-songwriter. 

Hannah Lowenthal took ballet classes as a child and found dance again while studying design in her early 20's in London. She has collaborated on dance theatre works shown in festivals and theatres such as Dans' l afrique Dans, Dance Umbrella UK, National Sawdust NYC, The Centre for the Less Good Idea, SA. In 2008 she apprenticed herself to Gabrielle Roth, creator of the 5Rhythms® dance practice.  Hannah continues to teach and make performance work in SA & abroad.
She took violin lessons in primary school but the instrument lay forgotten atop a cupboard for decades until she met Tillim and Malan, who urged her to have a go during one of their jams. She retrieved the dusty fiddle from its hiding place and dumbfounded the boys by perfectly playing the melody from an italian tango after hearing it once. The rest is history.

Rian Malan is possibly the only South African who has featured in not one but two Emmy Award--winning documentaries, both dealing with his quest for justice on behalf of Solomon Linda, the Zulu who dreamed up the melody that eventually became Lion Sleeps Tonight, a pop evergreen that earned millions for its American copyright owners but almost nothing for Linda, who died a pauper. 

But Malan says he would rather be remembered for Geheim van Slangfontein, hailed by The Citizen as “the best South African film ever made.” Knocked together in four or five days for almost nothing by Lloyd Ross, Geheim van Slangfontein spuriously documents Malan’s search for Radio Kalahari, a mysterious radio station that keeps broadcasting Malan’s Afrikaans songs from a secret location in the Kalahari desert  Geheim, along with many other amazing cultural creations by the legendary Mr. Ross. 


Conductors of the Karoo Art
Karoo Art Hotel
30 Van Riebeeck St, Barrydale, 6750
Get Directions