Big plans for art gallery

THE Ron Belling Art Gallery in Park Drive has been renamed the GFI Art Gallery after owners and benefactors, the Gutsche family of Port Elizabeth.

“The gallery is commercial, but with a philanthropic heart,” said gallery board chair Dorothea Moors, the youngest daughter in the Gutsche family.

Starting out as an aviation gallery with the Ron Belling Military Aviation Collection – which the Gutsches say they are committed to retaining – the focus has gradually shifted with the changing times and the growing interest in visual arts.

Gallery director Robyn Sharwood said she was excited about youth-oriented arts development and programmes that would improve participation and appreciation.

Over the National Arts Festival, for example, the gallery has two exhibitions hanging: the Rhino Protection Initiative which is a range of work by youngsters in Port Elizabeth to support the Wilderness Foundation, and Animal/Advance.

The latter is a diverse range of works curated by Alison Shaw that relate to animals conceptually, or which use the animal form. Both are a far cry from planes and ships and are part of the gallery’s increasingly broad artistic mandate.

Sharwood said the gallery no longer charged an entry fee and showcased a far wider variety of art than ever before.

“We have facilitated good partnerships between business and arts and the GFI Art Gallery will continue to foster projects that benefit the community,” said Sharwood. “We belong to the Gutsche Family Investments, hence GFI, and business is supporting the arts.”

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