Dearest Valued Collectors, Artists & Friends of Salon Ninety One
Nearly fourteen years ago, in October 2008, Salon Ninety One opened its first exhibition to the public. I can still vividly remember this opening; ‘Under These Skies’, a two-person show by Wesley van Eeden and Paul Senyol. Despite the pre-show jitters and behind-the-scenes exhibition set-up issues (we had some problems with the electricity and it looked as though we would be opening the show by candlelight!) everything came together, as I’ve come to learn it always does in the art world, as if by magic. I was secretly hoping that no-one would attend the opening, just so that I could have a moment to catch my breath and figure out how exactly one runs a successful art gallery and what I had gotten myself into, but the universe had other plans and we opened to a jam-packed exhibition. Something inexplicable happened that night; the space had somehow taken on a life of its own, something completely beyond my expectations, and much bigger than me and the vision I had. Ever since then I have felt the responsibility to serve the space, the artists and clients, and to protect and nurture the gallery with everything I have. What started out purely as a passion project for me has, over the years, grown into a multi-faceted, dynamic establishment, which has provided our wonderful Clients and Artists with great opportunities, and given me a strong sense of purpose. While its space has remained small and intimate, the gallery’s reach has extended far beyond its physical location. We have evolved careers, introduced emerging South African Artists to an international market, cultivated a dedicated and supportive client base, and established ourselves as an institution within our local art community.
Despite the gallery’s continued success for both myself and our Artists, the birth of my son in September last year, as well as a number of other contributing factors, have forced me to finally acknowledge what I have felt for some time; that change is necessary and inevitable. The gallery has always demanded my full and undivided devotion which has been incredibly rewarding yet cannot be sustained indefinitely. There is no easy way for me to say this, but sadly the time has come to say goodbye to Salon Ninety One in its current form. This has been a really difficult decision for me as I've invested so much love, time, and work into Salon Ninety One over the years, alongside some incredible staff members, family, artists, and clients. Together, we've taken the Artists, and the space, as far as we can, for now. I hope to find myself involved in the art industry once more at some point in the near future; but naturally it will be in a very different context that will present new opportunities, ways of working, and purpose.
I am immensely proud of what myself, the gallery team, and Artists have achieved. Despite opening during a global recession, surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, being a female-run business in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and overcoming the challenges all young galleries face, we have flourished. We’ve represented our Artists at fairs in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Sydney and have hosted over 170 exhibitions at our space on Kloof Street in Cape Town. Throughout, we have aimed to stay true to our mission of recognising and fostering new talent, providing a platform for young artists, and helping those already exhibiting with the space to achieve further success. For our clients, we have worked tirelessly to offer the best service possible through the hard work of our dedicated team. We have found countless special artworks for our collectors to love, installed a truly unimaginable amount and variety of artworks over the years, and shared our love of contemporary art with a diverse and expanding audience. The gallery has been about so much more than the business of displaying, and selling artworks. Never could I have anticipated the true value and nature of the experience I've had as founder, curator, and director; the relationships which have developed, the lessons learned, and the endless beauty I’ve experienced.
Thank you for trusting us, for your support and encouragement, and for growing alongside the gallery. To the artists, thank you for sharing your creativity and ideas with our team and viewers, for all the inspired works you've made for us, and for your contribution to the success of our gallery. As the exhibitions change over, I have found that I even see the world outside the gallery through your eyes and recognise your brush wherever I go. It has been a true privilege to have helped shape some of your careers and seeing you define and evolve your practice. I have every confidence that you will continue to thrive and will be watching and supporting you always. I’d like to thank the incredible Kirsten Beets for gracing our walls with her beautiful paintings one last time, and for providing the perfect conclusion to the story of our gallery with Wherever You Go, There You Are. While I cannot list every artist by name, I would like to make special mention of some of the artists who have formed an integral part of the Salon Ninety One family since the beginning; Paul Senyol, Andrew Sutherland, Kirsten Sims, Kirsten Beets, Sarah Pratt, Natasha Norman, Lara Feldman, Maria van Rooyen, Jade Klara, Cathy Layzell, Gabrielle Raaff, Linsey Levendall, Katrin Coetzer, Heidi Fourie, Chloe Townsend, Jeanne Hoffman, Amber Moir, Zarah Cassim, to name just a few.
For the collectors, I hope we’ve added to your collection in a meaningful and unique way and furthered your appreciation of contemporary South African art. Thank you for your continued engagement and enthusiasm for the gallery and artists. Finally, I would like to thank the dynamite team of Salon Ninety One for their unwavering passion and dedication and my loving family for their unending support.
I will never forget this amazing journey and how it all began. May we all remain curious and inspired.
Director & Curator
Salon Ninety One Contemporary Art Collection,
Cape Town, South Africa