It’s amazing what a good idea, combined with a passion for building community and a dream to celebrate local talent can result in. The pop-up art gallery at the recently opened The Studio at Lifestyle Centre Ballito is an example of exactly this.
Whispers of, “this can’t possibly be in Ballito,” and “who knew we had such talent right here,” could be heard from astounded visitors as they walked through the massive, wooden doors of the Gallery at The Studios on the opening night of the first exhibition in early December.
Situated opposite Weylandts at the Lifestyle Centre Ballito, The Studios is a large, contemporary, industrial-style space that was conceptualised and turned into a reality by Lifestyle Centre owner Bruce Rencken, designer Murray Loder and well-known Ballito artist Jane Digby.
“Bruce approached me with his idea in October last year and asked if I would run the pop-up art gallery. I thought it would be an amazing opportunity for local artists,” says Jane.
With 600m² downstairs and 200m² upstairs, the space was transformed into a highly professional, ultra modern gallery in just a few short weeks.
The first exhibition, which ran from early December until the end of January, was an artists collective formed by Jane, showcasing specifically Dolphin Coast artists using a variety of different genre, techniques and subjects. The exhibit also included some sculptors from further afield.
The response from the public has been phenomenal and the exhibition a massive success. There were more than 20 artists on display, including the likes of Leigh Bissett, Ali Cockburn, Bebhinn Spoors, Emily Smithers, Hanna and Nic Grobler, Sma Shabalala, Brett Roux, Lisa Twyman, Patrick Maphosa, Phumlani Ingwa and Jane Digby, to name just a few.
The upstairs mezzanine section of The Studios has been transformed into an interactive workshop space, perfect for art sessions and demos, poetry and book readings and an area where youngsters can let their creative juices flow freely.
“I feel like there are amazing things happening in the art world in Ballito and this space has provided a much-needed platform for our phenomenal local artists to showcase their talent,” said Jane. “It’s a win-win as well, because it also adds a wonderful vibe to the centre.”
Jane says the idea is not to only be centered around the fine arts, but also become an interactive space for videographers, performing arts, creative writers and even musicians.
With a wonderful, small in-house coffee shop, called Coffee Lab Cafe, the gallery provides the perfect meeting spot for people to meet and talk about and view art.
Worth a mention are the lifelike wax sculptures by internationally acclaimed Durban artist Dr Lungelo Gumede whose Mandela sculptors stood proudly at the entrance to the gallery and the incredible stone carving work by self-taught artist Patric Maphosa.
Ardmore Ceramics also opened a pop-up shop in the gallery, drawing an even greater interest.
The second exhibition, titled ‘Contagious Creativity’, opens on 5 February and until 9 March. A ‘call for artists’ was distributed and Jane says they have selected artworks that will create a visually exciting exhibition experience, with the intention that it will remain a lasting memory, create engagement in the arts and bring hope in this time of adversity. A wide range of arts, design, creative writing and music will be showcased, as well as a few installations made by our youth in the community, especially for this exhibition.
Text: Leah Shone