It has been the dream of Isabel Roos, Imbizo’s owner, living in Westbrook – KZN, to establish a top end quality gallery on north coast.
Imbizo is the Zulu word for “gathering and coming together” and that is what I wanted the Imbizo gallery to be – a place for people to meet and be part of a community, where they can come and enjoy South African art, a place where they can feed their soul.
Isabel, who holds a PhD in Phytobacteriology, spent her early years working in science but her heart has always belonged to the arts. “One of my earliest desires was to curate my own gallery, a space which I could fill with inspiring and innovative designs.” She did just that. After honing her knowledge in the industry at her first gallery in Stellenbosch, Isabel then moved and opened up Imbizo Gallery in Ballito Bay. Two sister braches followed, Imbizo Gallery Hoedspruit in the Kamogelo Tourism Centre and Imbizo Gallery in The Pearls of Mhlanga, 6 Lagoon Drive.
“I was born for this! ” She laughs, “I revel in the position of being able to provide quality, original artworks to private and corporate clients. I adore helping to place pieces which reflect the personal style, taste and ethos of the specific company or individual. I truly believe that art is an expression of ourselves.”
How did you get into the Art Business?
I studied to be a plant pathologist and was head of the department of Plant Pathology and Biotechnology at Infruitec in Stellenbosch University, but, I always had a passion for art and made a promise to myself that at the age of 40 I would open an art gallery like this (Imbizo Ballito).
My first Art and Coffee Shop, Träumerei (the German word for daydreaming) was in Stellenbosch. I enjoyed having the gallery, but wanted to get more involved in the upliftment of South African art which made me look for an opportunity to move into the wholesale art business. In 2008, the Kizo Art Gallery, the gallery where we find ourselves now, invited me to run the gallery here. After a couple of years, getting to understand this world, I decided to make the gallery my own and bought it. It has grown into three galleries since then, Ballito, Mhlanga and Hoedspruit, near the Kruger National Park.
Imbizo is my passion and I am by nature an enthusiastic person.
I think what sets Imbizo apart from other galleries is the client friendly ambiance. We are fine art consultants providing a one-stop service to private and corporate clients – a complete experience from rental, sourcing, commissioning, framing , hanging and shipping to all destinations. We place the art in the client’s environment so that they can experience it as their own. Our clients become friends of the gallery and make it their first stop when visiting, Ballito, Mhlanga or Hoedspruit.
We also work closely with a few selected interior decorators, who acknowledge and understand the importance and influence of art in the daily lives of their clients. It can be a painting, a beautiful sculpture or functional art like a glass or ceramic pieces.
The greatest challenges I face is in calculated risks through the economic downturns, e.g. in 2008 and 2017. Art is a harsh mistress, and it is an absolute labour of love, and total adoration.
My day starts at 5h00 in the morning on my “stoep” with a home brew coffee, overlooking the beautiful beach of Westbrook on the North Coast, meditating, planning my day and get lots of inspiration and positive energy from the ocean and the pod of dolphins frolicking in the waves.
After a long day at work, I relax on my “stoep” with a glass of wine!
My motto in life is …..Rather be stimulated to death than bored to death. I have been blessed to have wonderful people in my life to emulate – my promoter, Prof Martin Hattingh at Stellenbosch University was one of them – He was a living example of a civilised human being. My Mother – who taught us – what you do not own does not matter, but what you do own matters – Dr Anton Rupert, who used to be regular visitor to my Träumerei Art & Gift shop in Stellenbosch once said to me… Time spent on dreaming and money spent on art is never wasted… I always remember that.
Imbizo displays a large selection of works from top S.A. painters and sculptors and will also showcase selected glass art, ceramics and individually handmade jewellery. The Galleries host solo and group exhibitions regularly displaying both well-known and emerging artists.
I was always fortunate to have strong women around me (from the days as a little girl with my sisters under my mother’s wing) to my days in Stellenbosch. It is great being a woman, we get to be powerful, resilient and compassionate, all the while looking beautiful doing it.
I do, however believe, that positive change should originate from all. We should drive this from a place of integrity, passion, and most important of all, the action that converts these dreams to significance.