Activities / Events and Festivals / Western Cape

Kamers vol Geskenke – where gifts are flying off the shelves

Updated Friday, 26 May 2017

I’m just back from three hours of soaking up the ambiance of a market that gives new meaning to the word ‘craft’. The recent term for this type of craft is ‘high-end craft’ (there’s that word again, but obviously it is irreplaceable). So, don’t expect to see hand-knitted jerseys and wooden toys as you might at your average local craft market.

If there is one event you attend for all your Christmas gift shopping, then make it Kamers vol Geskenke at Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West, happening now: until 29 October, 9am to 6pm daily.

‘High-end craft’ describes originally designed, timeless ‘craft’ that could easily, and does, grace the shelves of local boutiques as they open all over the country to cater for this burgeoning community of artists who combine contemporary creativity with inspired talent to arrive at a level of flair and ingenuity that inspires all who pass through the rooms of this event …

Behind the event is the philosophy if share, support, believe, and the group of eight women who pull this amazing annual feat off want those who visit to feel as passionate as they do about the idea of a gathering of people who come together to share and collaborate on ideas and creativity.

There’s also a lovely play on the idea of feminine energy, which subtly permeates the stalls (most of the crafters are women, although not all). But for all the good will, honesty, elegance and freshness of the ethos of the market, there is also an adept selection team with an eye for what their market will respond to.

Kamers vol Geskenke

Every stall here has gone through a rather rigorous selection process, having to literally ‘audition’ for their place at Kamers, before being hand picked. The team emphasise individual style and original products and have established themselves so solidly over the last nine years, that to exhibit at Kamers now places you very firmly in the market. It’s the Debutante’s ball of the craft world.

The team is already taking in photos of ranges for next year’s Kamers.

Around me were, mostly women, of all ages and sizes, all of them exclaiming over some item of clothing, or inspired gift, piece of jewellery or unique idea. Alternative music styles washed over me as I moved from marquee to marquee, none of it clashing, but yet providing a constant happy background noise.

The event lies just beyond the polo fields of Lourensford, panoramic mountain views providing a superb backdrop, whilst the marquees, supplied by Downings, are given names like ‘carousel of creativity’, Kamers fantasie and Kamers kombuis.

A friend who exhibited last year comments on the annual theme. Last year’s was enchanted forest, this year’s – carousel of creativity. It’s a cute idea, but not really necessary, as the stallholders wares speak for themselves.

But nothing prepares me for the way in which the stalls are set up, decorated and presented. Stalls look more like shops than stalls. There is no evidence of having simply grabbed the nearest table cloth as decoration to offset their wares. Exhibitors have brought in furniture, carpets, floor décor, chests of drawers, hat stands and racks to offset their products at their best. I’m impressed.

Claris at the Potters Gallery tells me how the first day of this year’s event, yesterday, was a little chaotic for her. “There was something of a frenzy to the day,” she says, and we muze that perhaps it was because it was the first day and buyers were intent on getting to the best buys first.

There is also the ‘opening night’ that sounds well worth attending. You might pay over double on the usual entrance fee (to get into the event one pays R45) but you get to browse, unharried by crowds, a glass of wine in your hand. And, of course, you’re one of the first there, so you get your pick of the merchandise.

Kamers vol Geskenke

Not that I felt I had lost anything by arriving on day two. Leslie, an artist friend also exhibiting and into whom I unwittingly bump, is on her way to do present wrapping duty. “They’re very nice about it,” she laughingly says, referring to the event’s organisers, “they’re just rather insistent as to your enthusiasm for volunteering to wrap gifts.” Leslie is referring to the stall where one can gift wrap presents for R15 a present.

She also comments on how the prices remain do-able. And I must agree. One obviously pays for quality – these are clearly not items brought in from China – but the prices are good and I easily find affordable gifts for my family and friends.

Halfway through I stumble upon an old school colleague (does one have colleagues at school??) and recognise her immediately. She doesn’t know me, but it’s one of those embarassing moments where, being ahead of me at school, I most certainly remember her, and I have to make peace with my overzealous memory for faces and the ability to embarrass myself by admitting to a school girl ‘crush’ at my age.

Be that as it may, Lovell is a volunteer with Woza Moya, one of the initiatives at Kamers this year. It’s an income generating project of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust and helps the families of men and women affected by providing them with craft work that sustains them.

In the same marquee, I pounce on a few beautiful mugs and teapots by another income generating project, this one run by a mother-daughter team and called Nellie (I obviously have a soft spot for projects), but these are not all that I buy.

I leave laden with hats by Gypsey Lin (who have some incredible locally made sandals worth hunting down), t-shirts by the design team, ebony and ivory and lucky friday, mugs by Nellie, ceramics, and an ingenious series of vinyl wall art words by plak it.

Kamers vol Geskenke

I’ve not even had time to sample any of the food, before we’re in the car and heading back to Cape Town at a sedate pace, the car filled with happy talk whilst we compare notes on the various stalls. Money and time well spent.

As one of the event’s visitors was heard to say: “I can’t describe it better than as a ‘reservoir of creativity’.

Lourensford Wine Estate lies 45 kms from Cape Town in Lourensford Road just past the Erinvale Golf Estate.

Event Dates:


Venue: Lourensford Estate
Times: Monday – 17h00 to 20h00, Tuesday to Saturday – 09h00 to 18h00


Venue: The Open Window School of Visual Communication, Irene, Pretoria Accommodation
Times: Monday – 17h00 to 20h00, Tuesday to Saturday – 09h00 to 18h00

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