Marlize Meyer: “It’s a beautiful, versatile creative space that I like to fill with challenging exhibits.”
Like so many White River stories, this one begins with an idea distilled over a bottle of wine. Louis van der Merwe, owner of Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre and architect Gavin Smitsdorp decided that the beautiful lifestyle experience of Casterbridge needed a place to capture the artistic soul of the Lowveld, somewhere that visitors could linger and take their fill of the talented output that nestles in this corner of the world. A gallery was born, the clean exterior lines of the metal sheeted building act as a perfect foil for the oft times colourful, sometimes enormous always interesting display of creative art that fills the lofty, open space within.
White River Gallery opened in 2008 but it was only in 2014 that Marlize Meyer, owner of adjacent shop Africa Joy, stepped in to take the management reins and ensure the lovely space was constantly filled with an eclectic assortment of exhibitions, reposing in well-lit splendour for three weeks before being replaced. Marlize strives to open a new exhibition every six weeks but it’s not an easy task to source work she considers interesting or good enough to draw and hold the attention of visitors.
Her first presentation was on the 16th June 2014, an exhibition by young artists from Uplands and Penryn Colleges celebrating Youth Day. Marlize is selective and driven by her gut feel, honed after years of interaction with the people who come to Casterbridge specifically to see what’s showing at the Gallery.
Brickbats arrived, of course. Marjan Bredel’s full sized nudes, the Witches exhibition and even popular Tony Fredericksson drew ire with his life size driftwood nude. But the visitors’ book is filled with bouquets, and a substantial database of Gallery fans are kept up to date with events via email and The White River Gallery Facebook page.
Small, boutique weddings, car launches and events sometimes share the space with a current exhibition. Carefully selected, of course, to enhance the art. The Gallery has customers from as far afield as Mozambique, Europe, the US, Johannesburg as well as the loyal White River and Nelspruit following.
Opening hours 10h00 – 16h00 Monday – Sunday, including Public Holidays except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If the gallery is unattended and you need some help, call in at Africa Joy across the way and they’ll be glad to assist.
So for a touch of soul refreshment before hitting the coffee shops, pop into the Gallery and spend a while admiring the skill and talent laid out before you.