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Monday, August 10, 2020


Although Imbizo Gallery Ballito has closed its doors, owner Dr Isabel Roos affirms that Imbizo will still be selling its beautiful, locally-made products on its online store. You can still find art by the Duarte family, Sarah Danes Jarrett en Nicolaas Roos at Olala Interiors at Ballito Junction.

Roos is on standby for any art-related queries and is still available for consultations. “You can also expect to see Imbizo pop-up exhibitions, so keep an eye out! One chapter might be complete, but we are not done with our book just yet. We are excited for this new beginning and look forward to having you on this journey with us. Stay in touch!,” she says.

Roos, owner and curator of Imbizo Art Gallery, has always had a dream. She made a promise to herself that by the age of 40, she would open a high-end art gallery on the North Coast.

Holding a PhD in Phytobacteriology and heading up the department of Plant Pathology and Biotechnology at Infruitec in Stellenbosch, she always held a passion for art. She revelled in the idea of being able to provide quality, original artwork to private and corporate clients. Roos has a seemingly effortless talent for being able to reflect the personal style, taste and ethos of a specific company or individual’s home-space. With her motto being, “rather be stimulated to death than bored to death”, this strong, compassionate and stylish entrepreneur truly believes that art is an expression of ourselves.

Imbizo is the Zulu word for “gathering and coming together" and that is what Roos wanted her galleries to embrace. Beautiful spaces for people to meet and be part of a vibrant community. A place where art lovers from all walks of life could enjoy South African art. This was how Imbizo Gallery was born. Not one gallery but three!

After honing her knowledge in the art and gallery industry at her first gallery in Stellenbosch called Träumerei (the German word for daydreaming), she made good on her dream and moved to KwaZulu-Natal. Here she opened up Imbizo Gallery in Ballito Bay. Two sister branches followed, one in Hoedspruit and the other at the Pearls Mall in Umhlanga.

The Galleries have hosted world-class solo and group exhibitions as well as encouraged and supported local emerging artists. Her artist stable includes a large selection of top South African sculptors, painters, glass blowers, ceramics and her personal favourite, traditional African art and handmade jewellery.

Roos has worked closely with a few selected interior decorators. “I have formed a close working relationship with various designers who share my love of the arts and acknowledge and understand the importance and influence of it in the daily lives of their clients. Art of course, can be anything you say it is! …a painting, a suspended sculpture, a beautiful piece of wood or functional art like glass and ceramic vessels.”

She believes that what set Imbizo apart from other galleries has simply been the hands-on, client-friendly ambiance. “Our clients become friends of the gallery and make it their first stop when visiting Ballito, Umhlanga or Hoedspruit.”

Roos explains that owing to the challenges through the economic downturns, particularly in 2008 and 2017 and now with the Covid-19 lockdown, she has been forced to make tough decisions:

“Since Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on 15 March, the Imbizo Galleries have had no walk-in business at all. This has been dealt a double blow with many cancellations of pending sales from international and national clients being made. This of course, is all understandable, we realize the entire world face the same challenges.

“Us, as an art gallery are extremely dependent on tourism. Our Galleries, all being situated in usually vibrant and buzzing centres have come to a complete standstill. This, together with the struggling economy of the past three years, has forced us to close up our physical gallery and go forward as an online Gallery.

“We will continue to consult and provide a one-stop service to private and corporate clients – a complete experience from rental, sourcing, commissioning, framing, hanging and shipping to all destinations.

“Our beautiful collection of artworks will be exhibited online and will be used in ‘pop’-up’ physical spaces somewhere else…watch this space!”

Roos believes that a positive challenge will rise from these times and is passionate when she chats about the role-models in her life. She makes note of Prof Martin Hattingh at Stellenbosch University, her mother who taught her that “what you do not own does not matter, but what you do own matters”. Dr Anton Rupert, who was a regular visitor to her gallery in Stellenbosch, told her that “Time spent on dreaming and money spent on art is never wasted.”

“I have had some of my best moments in my life in our Ballito Gallery and the Ballito LifeStyle Centre is simply an incredible place! I would like to thank Bruce Renken in person as well as all management and staff for a wonderful relationship and friendship during these amazing years. I also thank all the incredible tenants, our loyal regular clients who have become friends, our talented and passionate artists, suppliers and of course my own amazing staff: Sandra Keil, Pauline Oor, Salome Moodley and Sindisiwe Sibiya who in most part have been with me for more than eight years. All of you and all at the Centre will be missed dearly.”

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