Thanks to Kate Crane-Briggs Culture Connect for organising another great outing to Parliament with speakers Lila Komnick and Peter Soal.
It was hard to imagine that we were standing in front of Parliament in what used to public space until the public works department, purchased the land, closed it off and made it part of the parliament grounds.
This building was formerly the British Consulate and remained so until 2002. Interesting story is that the South African government wanted to them to relocate once they closed off the area to the public, but the British dug in their heels and refused to move in the 1980s.
There is so much art in parliament, either in prime position or in their archives that it is hard to decide which ones to photograph. I studied the Royal Visit of 1947 so found the painting about the opening of Parliament fascinating. The young Smuts, painted by William Orpen (1878-1931), Orpen was an Irish artist based in London known for this portraits. He was one of the artists sent to the Western Front in World War I and painted scenes, soldiers, prisoners from the war. His 138 paintings can be seen at the Imperial War museum, London.
It was the first time I have been inside the Parliament dining room, probably because Parliament is not in session at the moment. This room was the original Senate, pre the 1910, Union of South Africa, I was sitting imagining Rhodes in this room over a hundred years ago
Peter Soal (former MP), explained how this was originally built for the Tricameral parliament with 280 seats (160 for white, 80 for coloured and 40 for Indian representatives). Colours for the seats were originally selected similar to Westminster, London). With the new democracy and over 400 seats now available, the long benches at the back were added.