While artists will never proclaim that they have perfected their craft, Marelize Coetzee can say with certainty that she is producing some of her best work in Barrydale.
“What you see here today is some of the best work I’ve produced and this setting, this town, definitely has been a source of inspiration for me,” Marelize claims.
She described her house and studio as sanctuaries, adding that the simplicity of small town living provides the perfect setting where many complex societal issues can be explored – either through art or music.
“It is a small town, but there are so many talented, interesting people here and all of that just creates such a perfect environment to explore your own creativity.”
Big hearted small town living
A quick glance through her living room window provides the best explanation as to why Barrydale is home to so many gifted artists.
From her front porch you can see most of the towns key focal points. The view illustrates the contrast between agricultural developments of years gone by while also highlighting modern architectural features that allows visitors to experience country-side living while still having access to modern day amenities.
Having spent most of her adult life in big busy cities, Marelize simply loves how easy it is in Barrydale to just switch off and allow time drift away.
“During the evenings you can hear the liveliness of people having dinner at Mez (Karoo Kitchen) or the Karoo Art Hotel, or when there is a band in town the sound envelops the village. You can feel that you are really close to the action, yet not be involved at all.”
She added that while the natural beauty of the area at large has contributed to the newfound pride she has for her own creations, the feeling of freedom of expression could be another significant driving factor.
“In a small town you often have to make do with what you have. So I’ll have a certain canvas and that is what I’ll work with. I don’t always have a set plan and I like to paint anything from abstract art, to photo realistic paintings – anything that works for me at that time really.”
A closet romantic by heart Marelize has the ability to merge the fantasy world with realist images that, according to her, must be functional in homes.
Reflecting on her style she quipped: “My style has become so diverse that you can hang four of my paintings in your house and not know it is the same artist.
“It is important that my work fits in at someone’s house and continues to live on through time. I’m not trying to make an impact or become famous, I just understand that people need beautiful things in their homes and that is what I take into consideration when I create something new.”
Marelize’s home in Steyn Street used to be the Old Mill. She lives there with her son Reuben and they moved in during 2020 after her mother passed away.
A few years ago her UK based parents, both exceptionally gifted artists, fell in love with the property and they had planned to eventually retire in Barrydale.
It was a classic case of newcomers providing local real-estate agent Ruth Goodman with a list of their dreams and requirements and vwala!
“Marelize’s parents were in town all of two days before deciding that this is the perfect place for artists to express themselves,” Ruth said, adding that people all her clients first fall in love with Barrydale and then the beautiful homes that are on the market.
A new lease on life
The decision to move into the old dame of Steyn Street took some time as Marelize and her family had other ideas.
“Initially when my mom passed away the plan was to rent the house out, but after completing the renovation and decoration work I thought, why not live here.”
*She did an exceptionally good job and can easily become an interior decorator as well.
When Marelize made the decision to stay, she knew all to well that maintaining such a big property – it also has a must see permaculture garden which was laid out by her wunderkind bother Marcelle – would not be an easy task for a single mom.
Fortunately her other life long passion for fashion design came in handy so when she is not busy painting her next masterpiece Marelize assists the Barrydale Hand Weavers with their product development.
“I also love working with textiles and yes, I totally love living in Barrydale and being part of the hand weavers team.”
Asked what she loves doing when she is not producing some of her best work n Barrydale, her response was swift.
“Milkshakes at Diesel ‘n Crème or a late afternoon stroll with my son.”
Also Read: Barrydale’s Nigel Hewett reinvents himself
*This article is sponsored by Ruth Goodman of Dormehl Properties