Bringing the Midlands back to its roots

The Platform Gallery is not shy. As soon as you step into the unique gallery’s space, you will notice the abundance of artists and mediums and meet a friendly and knowledgeable curator to help you truly see it. While the exterior of this must-see Midlands attraction maintains its humble roots (it was formerly used as a railway shed), it boasts the raw and undiluted talent that KZN, and the Midlands, have to offer. Drawing solely on artists that live within two hours of the gallery, it is a marvel they have procured one of the most captivating and attractive collections.

The Platform Gallery KZN
The Platform Gallery at night

While the plentitude of pieces on offer is clear, like the shed itself, the gallery also had humble beginnings. In the early days of the business, sculptor Michael Mawdsley worked on location, before the now-sparkling gallery had electricity or running water. His studio setup allowed visitors to the space to see an artist in action, a once-daily feature that harkened back to the history of the Midlands as an enclave for artists and crafters with open-door policies. This showcasing of artistry cracked open a door, revealing a world of possibility, a world seeking a bridge between the artist and the public. The Platform, and the team behind it, fill this role with an energy and enthusiasm that is hard to match.

Sculptures at The Platform
Enjoying art

The gallery has had the privilege of growing organically by building close relationships with its artists and clients alike. Check with any of the curators behind the space, and they’ll tell you which artist stopped in that week, and which has sold a piece. “The platform is a place to feel free and be inspired. It was always our dream to work with artists.” Glen shares with optimism.

It is a curator’s privilege to bring the attention of the public to both well-established and emerging artists alike. While works from seasoned sculptors like Llewellyn Davies and Sarah Richards regularly find new homes, the team behind the gallery is just as likely to talk excitedly about the latest piece to come in from one of their new artists. One such artist is Rory Cox, who recently sold his first bronze sculpture. It is easy to see that the mission of the gallery is to provide a place for artists to grow and flourish, and the friendly curators are passionate to share it with you.

Brendan Edwards' piece
Brendan Edwards’ piece

As well as providing a space for sculptors, painters, and sketch artists, they also have bespoke, hand-crafted jewelry that stretches across the spectrum from fine gold and gemstones to bronze. One of the jeweler residents, Chantal Meyer, shares her ability to draw from natural elements and textures in her pieces. With work crafted from both silver and pewter, she has an extensive collection of bold and delicate pieces.

The Platform exterior
The Platform exterior

A dynamic environment is essential when it comes to catapulting ideas into existence. The husband and wife team running the establishment, Glen and Molly du Preez, have managed to cultivate just that. The pair are involved with every ongoing project, seeing through their goals and visions with their hand-picked and driven team. As Molly said in a recent interview, “We encourage everyone on the team to feel like they can contribute ideas and problem solve throughout each day, and ultimately, we try to promote a passion for what we do.”

While on any given day you are likely to see the two on-site, you are just as likely to meet Justin Houston, their friendly and outgoing team manager, who has been with the two since the earliest days of the gallery. “There is magic here. A non pretentious space where we can have real conversations about art. It’s really cool that a stranger can walk through the door and I can help bridge the gap between them and the artist.” Justin speaks fondly.

Platform Art Gallery on a cold winter's day in the Midlands
Gallery on a cold winter’s day in the Midlands

Whether you are visiting during the week or on the weekend, there is always a tangible atmosphere of warmth. During the winter months, this is especially aided by another of the Mr. Du Preez businesses, the brand Smokeless Fires. These are the first wood-burning, but smoke free fires for sale anywhere in South Africa.

The Platform extends further to The Local Cafe and Eatery, which now celebrates local musicians with live music every Sunday. This weekly live music, known as the Smokeless Sunday Sessions, are sponsored by the Smokeless Fires brand, and hosted by The Local.

Smokeless Sunday Sessions at The Local
Smokeless Sunday Sessions at The Local

At the far end of the property is the unmissable and earliest business at this Lions River location, The Nguni Guy. The Nguni Guy is home to a wide range of hand-selected Nguni hides, game hides, leather bags, and other accessories. The collection of small businesses run by the young and zestful team makes for an unforgettable experience, one you won’t want to miss.

Vincent Reid wall of sketches
Vincent Reid wall of sketches

Browse artwork at The Platform Gallery

Visit The Platform Gallery