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Activism arts in the country

Wired Communications
02/15/2013 14:07:22

Artslink.co.za News
When Mary-Anne Border was teaching art in Cape Town, she had no idea that she’d be consumed by a new creative urge when she moved to Napier.

She’d always been creative, of course, and had always held some strong views on everything from politics to religion. She’d just never combined her skills in quite the same way before - and it seems that Napier is to blame for this strange new influence.

“I think it’s because you can be the person you really want to be here”, explains Mary-Anne. “I’ve met some wonderfully inspiring people and that gives me added impetus to express things in a new way.”

Mary-Anne moved to Napier a year ago and took up residence at the Napier Retirement Village – her house overlooks rolling countryside and gives her the vision she seeks. She loves the nature around her even though she has done battle with some visiting swallows who took up residence on her stoep. She also loves the quiet. So her new found activism contrasts somewhat with the serenity of her living surroundings but she’s lively in her freedom and happily saying what she wants to say through her painting. This societal commentary – all given from the comfort of her new home – has given Mary-Anne a new lease of life too. “I swim every afternoon with a friend in the solar heated pool ... and in all weathers ... so I’m being active in every way and, as the saying goes: ‘I’m retired but I’m not tired’. How can you be tired when there’s so much to do and see?

“I think people who retire to Napier end up coming here to ‘live’. In my case, I’m really living it up in terms of my art. I love the new found sense of freedom I have here – it allows me to give vent and to do so in a focused way! I also just love the lifestyle – it’s easy with an edge and, as an artist, this suits me very well.”

Mary-Anne first considered moving to Napier because her architect son, Nic Border, was involved with the Napier Retirement Village. Nic was responsible for transforming the old school in Napier into the main building for the retirement village.

Situated on the top of a hill in Napier, the “Ou skool” (Old School) is an impressive building with wooden floors, high ceilings and a rich history. It’s been lovingly restored and is now the nucleus of the Napier Retirement Village. By blending old and new, the ‘Old School’ complex at Napier Retirement Village shows clever and sensitive use of original features and structures so that its integrity is retained and merged with the functionality of a new build.

Residents of Napier Retirement Village have a choice of independent or assisted living. Independent living is either in detached Cape cottages or terraced houses in the Ou Skool’s converted woodwork building. Assisted living and frail care services are offered in the main Ou Skool building, where the nursing and healthcare services are as convenient as the library, dining and living rooms.

As in Mary-Anne’s case, it seems retirees discover they are able to live a life less ordinary and one that’s an infinite improvement on what they had envisaged. While it may seem like a sleepy hollow, there’s a lot more on offer in Napier than first meets the eye.

Yes, it’s basically a quiet, small town in the Overberg in the Western Cape but it’s also bustling away quietly in the background too. People who pass through Napier en route to the coast invariably think “that’s a pretty village”, and leave it at that, but if you stop and take a closer look, Napier’s tangible vibrancy, creative spirit and overt friendliness begin to seep into your consciousness. The little town offers its 4 000 residents loads of things to do - fourteen restaurants, numerous galleries, local wineries and churches, its own butcher, baker, a dairy, brewery (the most southern in Africa) and a burgeoning community of artistic and creative residents. Lying at the foot of the Soetmuisberg, Napier appeals to a wide range of people who find a commonality in being ever so slightly quirky, offbeat and always interesting.

Napier was founded in 1838 and named after the British Governor of the Cape at the time, Sir George Napier. Some of the main historical features of the village include the Feeshuis, one of the oldest buildings in the town, which was used as slave quarters between 1810 and 1820; the Dutch Reformed church, built in the form of a Greek cross, which features a teak interior and a beautiful solid copper pipe organ; and the ox-wagon monument, which was erected in 1988 to commemorate the trek in 1838.

Century-old cottages blend with modern houses in a rural village surrounded by the rolling farmland typical of the Overberg region. Napier is in the Cape Agulhas Region with easy access to the seaside villages of Arniston (Waenhuiskrans), Struisbaai and L´Agulhas. Bredasdorp, a busy Overberg town and the nearest big supermarket, is 25 minutes’ drive and Hermanus with its medi-clinic and shops is 45 minutes away. For the 4 000 Napier residents, there’s plenty to do; various clubs offer anything from bowling to reading and bridge to craft-making. The Grootberg Hiking Trail is a new eight kilometre long trail around the Grootberg summit and, as you’d expect, there are large numbers of fynbos and bird species to see in the area.

Another character who’s finding a new lease of life in Napier is Eksteen Odendal. Eksteen actually grew up in Napier and he’s been away for quite a few years but he’s returned and is now the manager at the Napier Retirement Village, the main building of which occupies the very school where Eksteen was head boy in 1975. He loves being back on familiar turf and takes enormous pride in Napier and how attractive it has become. Together with his wife, Helena, a fully qualified nursing sister, Eksteen is popular around town and with the residents of the Napier Retirement Village and this is because he always has time for them.

“Napier has changed a lot since I was at school here”, Eksteen explains. “I think it is better now though because people are restoring the buildings, and all the different types of people living here make it a very dynamic community.

“I also think that, even though I’m involved in the retirement side of things here, Napier is a place for all ages because it has so much going on – and if you are retired in Napier, people want to come and visit you here.”

This is an important and often vital determinant for choosing where you’ll enjoy your retirement because it’s nice to be in a place that both family and friends will enjoy visiting regularly. When considering your retirement options, Napier Retirement Village offers not only freedom, choice and peace of mind but also, in case you need it, the medical support you might want too.

So, if you’d like to explore and let fly your creative spirit while enjoying peace of mind, quiet surroundings, good company when you want it, medical support when you need it, a thoroughly pleasant lifestyle and a life less ordinary you’d be hard pressed to beat Napier.

For more information contact Will on 081 271 0543 or visit www.napiervillage.co.za

Artslink.co.za Account:
Lana Martens
Wired Communications
021 464 1144
082 458 9916
Napier Retirement Village


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