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Bell-Roberts Gallery closes

By Michael Smith on 16 August

ArtThrob learned this month that Bell-Roberts Gallery in Woodstock, Cape Town, is closing. The gallery, which has been operating since 1998, is closing to minimize Bell-Roberts’s exposure to adverse economic conditions induced by the global recession. Galleries in all segments of the market are feeling the pinch, as was demonstrated by the shrinking revenues generated by sales at this year’s Joburg Art Fair.

Earlier this year, ArtThrob reported that the Joburg Art Fair grossed about half of last year’s taking, which were reported at ‘between R25 and R30 million’. Since 2009’s Fair the most high-profile gallery closure has been that of Warren Siebrits, a stalwart on the Johannesburg contemporary art scene for a number of years. Bell-Roberts Gallery, also represented at the Joburg Art Fair, is the second major gallery to shut up shop as the recession diminishes the expendable income buyers are willing to devote to art.

Bell-Roberts Gallery has been instrumental of establishing and furthering the careers of a number of key South African artists, such as Dan Halter, Peet Pienaar, Greg Streak, Sanell Aggenbach, Ed Young, Christian Nerf and Julia Clark, to name but a few.

Director Suzette Bell-Roberts stated in a press release that the other two major components of the Bell-Roberts business, the separate Art South Africa Magazine and Bell-Roberts Publishing, will continue to operate as usual. Art South Africa Magazine turns 7 this September, and will celebrate the event at a closed function at the prestigious Glen Carlou wine estate.

Also busy, Bell-Roberts Publishing continues its productive year releasing titles such as: 10+ Years 100+ Buildings- Architecture in a democratic South Africa, Africa Now! Emerging talents from a continent on the move (designed and produced for the World Bank in Washington); The Standard Bank Collection and The Creative Cape Town Annual.

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