WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Mario Todeschini (after)
Built in the early 20th century as a family home, with evidence in the original plans of a cow shed tucked alongside the building, Greg Gamble and Philippe van der Merwe of Tonic have worked to preserve and contribute to the building’s history. According to the award-winning design duo, “Our intention with the renovation is to retain the historical integrity and charm of the original building, at the same time gently transforming the interior to create a minimal environment conducive to viewing art.”
The decision to move follows years of consultation between gallery directors, artists and supporters. In particular, artists with a long relationship to the city such as Robin Rhode, Nandipha Mntambo and Moshekwa Langa have highlighted the need to broaden the gallery’s audience and accessibility.
“My art is always in dialogue with the architecture that surrounds it, and it is a wonderful prospect to show in a building that offers such a sense of Joburg history, not to mention the possibilities that the garden offers for new ways of working and thinking,” says Nandipha. “[I look] forward to seeing how Tonic’s modern touch will merge with the heritage of the house.”
As well as offering creative possibilities, Stevenson Joburg joins other galleries in the area to form a consolidated network for art goers. Plus the new building has practical advantages such as dedicated parking and wheelchair access.
“One of the things I have always enjoyed about how we function as a gallery in Joburg is our flexibility and interest in experiencing different parts of the city,” says director David Brodie. “From our early days in Craighall Park as a young upstart space, to Braamfontein, where our audience has largely comprised students and university-associated visitors, bringing a vitality and critical engagement to our programming – it has been almost a decade since we were last in the north, and I am excited to reintroduce the gallery and our artists to audiences there.”
The new gallery, located at 46 7th Avenue, opened to the public on 18 May 2019 with a solo exhibition by Portia Zvavahera.
Other artists set to exhibit here over the next year include Meleko Mokgosi, Dada Khanyisa, Zanele Muholi, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi and Meschac Gaba.
For more information about what’s coming up, visit stevenson.info.