Nestled between Table Mountain, the Cape Town CBD and the Atlantic Seaboard, De Waterkant is home to a number of cafes, retail stores and a wide range of accommodation options, ranging to suit every taste and budget, making it one of the trendiest areas in Cape Town.
This month, we spoke to Deon, owner of Deepest Darkest Art Gallery, a contemporary fine art gallery that has shared a curated collection of local and international art with De Waterkant locals since 2019. Here’s what Deon shares about the world of local art and navigating the pandemic in a location-based business.
- When was the business established?
- Can you give us a bit of a background on Deepest Darkest? What do you do? What makes the business unique?
Deepest Darkest is a boutique contemporary fine art gallery curating work by a range of emerging and mid-level artists from South Africa and abroad. Our focus is on a range of disciplines with quality work that innovates a point of view while remaining accessible to a wide range of art collectors.
- What do you enjoy about running a business in De Waterkant?
The unique nature of the De Waterkant Village makes it a great setting. The Village is noted for its preserved historical architecture, narrow tree-lined streets and sidewalk cafes, lending itself to visitors exploring the various lifestyle offerings. We are also lucky to have some great guest-houses in the area, so, generally, we are fortunate to attract a wide range of visitors from around the world.
- Do you feel that the area is safe and clean, thanks to the GPCID?
The GPCID are crucial to the safety and upkeep of the village. The area’s 24-hour patrols are certainly a welcome relief and daily cleaning means that our streets are always clean. Ongoing GPCID involvement and support on community projects, like the recent upgrade of the De Smit Park, are also greatly appreciated.
- How was Deepest Darkest affected by the pandemic?
Like many across the world, the pandemic had a devastating effect on business. As a gallery, direct and personal engagement with the artwork is a crucial interaction. While we did of course explore digital avenues, and continue to do so, these prove to be limited; lacking a real sense of presence. Additionally, with the travel restrictions, a key portion of our target market is unable to visit. So, like everyone, we certainly hope that all will steadily return to open travel eventually. In the interim, we limit our exhibition openings and also offer private viewings where you can book a slot and have the gallery open exclusively while you view the exhibition in private.
- To what do you attribute your success? (Either over the years or in overcoming the pandemic).
We have tried to position the gallery as an open and inclusive space. Because the space is fairly intimate, it allows a more personal experience, as opposed to a cold incubator-like space. Similarly, the range of artists we show is diverse and interesting. We’re constantly looking into new ways to not only engage with our key audience but also to attract the next generation of art collectors and appreciators. I’d like to encourage anyone living in De Waterkant to start collecting original art and to support local artists who have struggled significantly through the pandemic. Buy something you identify with, love, and can see yourself living with.
- Where do you hope to see Deepest Darkest in the next 5 years?
We’re hoping to expand both our programme and our offering. Certainly, increasing access to great contemporary art from not just South African, but from the rest of the continent and across the diaspora. The pandemic has halted certain plans for art fairs, both locally and internationally, but this too is something we are hoping to pick up in the foreseeable future.
In a home, empty-looking rooms with bare walls can make for a depressing living environment and art pieces can act as a powerful decorating tool. Artwork is great for adding an extra dimension to any room and is a sign of a well finished, personalised interior. So, pay Deepest Darkest a visit and see if any pieces tug at your heartstrings – you’ll be surprised how beautiful artwork can make all the difference to your home.