CONTEMPORARY ART MAY seem an unexpected memento from Africa, but native Capetonian Catherine Christie's paintings reflect a continent in flux. "Africa is the heart and soul of the world. The energy is wild and exciting," says Christie. "At the same time, Cape Town is cosmopolitan and majestic." The 38-year-old artist, who has built a glass-and-steel gallery in Hout Bay, creates paintings that are as complex as the political and social tapestry of South Africa. "I am an alchemist, not an artist," says Christie. "Alchemists take their inspiration from magic, and Africa is a magical place." www.catherinechristie.co.za
OTHER FINE SOUTH AFRICAN FINDS:
/ A mask might be tempting , but most come from elsewhere on the continent. For something indigenous to South Africa, pick up a Zulu walking stick at African Image (www.african-image.co.za), in Cape Town.
/ Some of the country's finest wines are produced by two coastal vineyards east of Cape Town in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Try the Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay (011-27-28-312-3595) or the Bouchard Finlayson Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir (www.bouchardfinlayson.co.za).
/ Wine isn't South Africa's only tipple. Take a distillery tour (including tastings) on the South African Brandy Route, northeast of Cape Town, and pick up a bottle at the Van Ryn's Distillery and Brandy Cellar (www.vanryn.co.za), distilling for more than 160 years.