Do you know any of these two art galleries? The Ron Belling Art Gallery and the GFI Art Gallery. Perhaps the former sounds familiar. Not sure about the latter? Well, they are one and the same thing.
The gallery is housed in a landmark Art Deco style building across from St Georges Park on Park Drive. The building, named "Ridgewood", was commissioned by Axel Stockelbach, then managing director of Ford South Africa, in 1936 and was designed by Gertruida Brinkman, the first woman Architect to qualify in South Africa. In 1988, Port Elizabeth businessman Philipp Rowland Gutsche bought the house and it was converted into an art gallery to house the Ron Belling Military Aviation Collection of paintings. Mr Gutsche passed away in 2000 and the Gallery Board is now chaired by his daughter Dorothea Moors.
The gallery was initially called the Ron Belling Art Gallery and the majority of what was on display was part of the Military Aviation Collection. Two or three years ago it was decided to change the direction of the gallery and not just focus on Ron Belling's art. The name of the gallery was also changed to GFI (Gutsche Family Investments) Art Gallery. I made a quick visit to the gallery the other day and had a look around a excellent exhibition that is on at the moment. My biggest disappointment though was that there wasn't one Ron Belling on display in the whole gallery except for a few prints behind the reception counter. I really hope that once the additions being made to the gallery is done that a permanent Ron Belling display area will be set aside.