Did you know?
The GFI Art Gallery (formerly known as Ron Belling) is situated in an Art Deco house designed by South Africa's first women architect graduate, Gertruida Brinkman.
Like the province itself, art galleries in the Eastern Cape are full of undiscovered treasures. Spread among the towns and cities of the Eastern Cape, these South African art galleries are home to local and international art collections that give visitors a range of unique perspectives on our country.
Foremost among Eastern Cape galleries is the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port Elizabeth. It houses a large collection of South African art, with a special focus on art from the Eastern Cape. It also has notable collections of British art, international printmaking and Oriental art, including Indian miniatures and Chinese textiles.
The permanent collection, although mainly retrospective in nature, features works by contemporary artists like Berni Searle, Conrad Botes, Diane Victor and Nicholas Hlobo. The museum's temporary exhibitions feature art from across the historical spectrum.
Also in Port Elizabeth is the Gutsche Family Investments Art Gallery (formerly known as Ron Belling). Belling was one of South Africa's best aviation artists and his collection included more than 500 works with planes as their main subject matter.
The De Beers Centenary Art Gallery at the University of Fort Hare in Alice focuses on contemporary Black art, much of it from the apartheid era. It includes the works of icons such as George Pemba and Gerald Sekoto. Also look out for their collection of traditional African art including beadwork, utilitarian objects, costumes and a variety of other artefacts.
Also look out for The Owl House in Nieu Bethesda. It's is one of South Africa's finest examples of outsider art, an extraordinary, multi-coloured fantasy of concrete and ground glass sculptures that needs to be experienced rather than described.
The Albany Museum Art Galleries in Grahamstown, housed in the History Museum and curated by specialists in their fields, are also well worth a visit.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum
Tel: +27 (0)41 5062000
The Owl House
Tel: +27 (0)49 8411733
The Albany Museum
Tel: +27 (0)46 622-2312
The Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts (EPSAC)
Tel: +27 (0)41 585 3641
How to get here
Galleries in towns in the Eastern Cape are often within easy walking distance of the town centre or a short drive from larger cities.
Around the area
The Eastern Cape is an area of immense natural beauty characterised by rugged cliffs, dense green bush and the semi-arid Karoo. It is also home stretches of long white beach, interesting characters and, the ‘Big Five’.
What will it cost
Many Eastern Cape galleries are free, with some asking a minimal cover for advertised events.
Various Eastern Cape artists exhibit their work each year at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, which takes place in June/July.
In Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts (EPSAC) is a community-based gallery promoting artists from around the Eastern Cape where you can pick up beautiful works of art.