Kalk Bay’s Artvark Gallery

artvark gallery
Fish brooch in brass, copper and silver.

INTERVIEWED BY Tracy Greenwood PORTRAIT Jac de Villiers for Craft Art in South Africa

Artvark Gallery has been making a quirky statement on Kalk Bay’s Main Road for 20 years. We chatted to the owner and curator Theresa Jo Wessels.

Before you opened the gallery, you were known for a cutlery range. Tell us more.

Artvark Cutlery, which was our business when my husband CP and I still lived in Johannesburg, was inspired by an implement from West Africa used to measure gold. The initial basic sugar spoon developed into a complete dinner set. We had outlets all over, including the MoMA gallery shop in New York. Paloma Picasso owns an olive spoon and Donna Karan has a complete set.


Paintings by MJ Lourens, Karin Daymond, Hennie Niemann and Joshua Miles, and a wire sculpture by Simon Wojciechowski.

How did you decide on the name?

When CP and I were looking for a name for our cutlery brand in 1991, we didn’t think much of all the pseudo-French names in South Africa, so we coined the name Artvark.

Sugar jam spoons.

Theresa was inspired by her children’s drawings to make this silver leopard brooch.

What prompted your move to Cape Town and opening a gallery?

It was at an exhibition of our cutlery range in Nantes, France, in 1998 when I first heard of an old house and gallery in Kalk Bay for sale. Buying the property gave us the opportunity to relocate to this beautiful village on the Cape Peninsula from the centre of Joburg with our two young daughters.

Theresa and CP in front of their creations.

How has the gallery changed over the years?

In the beginning, Artvark’s emphasis was on craft. We have always worked with street artists, and still do. Today, Artvark is a fine-art gallery with paintings, ceramics, steelwork, jewellery and textiles, as well as crafts. I now focus on printmaking and CP manufactures larger-than-life steel art.

For more information, visit artvark.org.