Free exhibition space for artists

2019-05-14 06:00
Locals stand outside The Pop Up Place in Observatory ahead of an opening of one of the exhibitions.

Locals stand outside The Pop Up Place in Observatory ahead of an opening of one of the exhibitions.

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With Observatory attracting a variety of cultured people and artists being part of them, a business property owner in the area is offering artists space to exhibit their artworks in the community at no cost.

This is a way of attracting more people to the neighbourhood.

Werner Steyn, owns The Pop Up Place on Trill Street, an intimate building that was built in the 1800s.

“I bought the building as an office for Werner Property Agents, but when local artist, Hayley Ellis, walked past and asked if she could use the empty building as a pop-up gallery I was inspired. Instead of having a beautiful old building like this with property signs in the windows, the idea of artworks on show appealed to me much more,” Steyn explained the space’s origin story.

“After her successful exhibition, more artists approached me to exhibit their work. One of them, another local artist, Ian Mackee, thought that the building needed a name, and so he proposed Pop Up Place and made the signage.”

Artists get to rent the place for a week by paying a deposit of R1 000, which is fully refunded to them when they leave the place in the same condition they had found it.

“This is a wonderful opportunity, especially for artists who are holding their first exhibitions.”

The space is not only limited to artists, but to entrepreneurs and other creatives as well.

He said the only way the artists pay him for using his double-storey building is by advertising his business on their posters.

“That is the best way I could think of being compensated,” he says.

Steyn started this good deed in October last year and to date, about 10 exhibitions have been held at the building. “The reception has been wonderful, especially from locals. They know that on an opening night, which is normally held on a Thursday, they can come and enjoy a free glass of wine while seeing the wonderful art pieces,” he said.

The building costs over R5000 a week and the only way he can afford to keep it open is by charging the exhibitors who want to continue exhibiting after the one week, to rent the space at the amount it costs to keep it open.

The building is a landmark in Observatory, known before as Carte Blanche, A Touch of Madness and Tagores.

Local and international musicians and artists performed in the intimate space which attracted crowds from all over.V For more information email


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