We are saddened to announce that after 9 amazing years, Assemblage will be closing. This goodbye is bittersweet as we are proud to remember the many contributions that the organisation has made to the Johannesburg visual arts community since its inception in 2010. We are joyous about filling a much-needed gap in the industry for these years and are honoured to have collaborated with, grown with and guided hundreds of emerging artists to the next stages of their careers.
Over the years, Assemblage grew from a small gathering of artists seeking mentorship, skills exchange and exhibition opportunities to a formal organisation working with hundreds of artists. In 2010, we began with a resource website, peer mentoring and workshop programme. In 2011, we started curating experimental and collaborative group exhibitions in alternative spaces. In 2012, we opened our first studio space at 41 Gwi Gwi Mrwebi St, Newtown. This space was pivotal for the development of so many young and emerging artists and was a physical manifestation of our values and vision - to connect, share and create. It was an artists’ hub, a meeting place for collaboration and community, and a sanctuary for creativity and creation. Besides from studio spaces, it housed a printmaking workshop and a communal space where workshops and mentorship sessions occurred. In 2016, we moved to 1 Marshall St, Ferreirasdorp (1 Fox precinct) and created an exhibition space alongside artist studios and the printmaking workshop. We closed this space in 2018 and moved to a project space in Braamfontein for 6 months where we held a series of exhibitions and projects.
Throughout all our activities - studio spaces, workshops, peer mentoring and exhibitions - we worked with hundreds of South African artists and art professionals. The organisation evolved dramatically over the years, constantly evaluating the needs of the community and adapting its offering accordingly. No matter its form, it continued to fulfil its promise to Make Art Happen! We believe that we fulfilled our aim of enabling artists to be their best and of having a positive impact on the visual arts community of Johannesburg.
We could not have achieved this without the participation and support of artists, curators, funders, sponsors, and partners. We have been supported by organisations such as The African Arts Trust (studio bursaries and projects, 2013-2018), Rand Merchant Bank (Talent Unlocked/Fresh Produce at Turbine Art Fair, 2014-2019), Absa Gallery (exhibition, 2014), Goethe Institute (<dis/play> exhibition at GoetheonMain, 2012), Primi Piatti (pizzas for open studios, 2012-2015), Business and Arts South Africa (mentorship and supporting grants) and have collaborated with many other organisations such as VANSA, Bag Factory, Artist Proof Studio, and Wits Art Museum.
We are confident that we have achieved much of what we had originally set out to do and there are many people in the South African visual arts community who will continue to grow and thrive because of their participation in our programmes. We hope that the visual arts community of South Africa will continue to nurture emerging artists and that artists themselves will continue to share, collaborate and to Make Art Happen!
Thank you to everyone who supported Assemblage in any way, shape or form. We are happy to have shared this journey with you.
From the Trustees: Anthea Pokroy, Louise van der Bijl and Lakin Morgan-Baatjies
Closing information that you should know:
Interview with Assemblage founders Louise van der Bijl and Anthea Pokroy on Unframed podcast, reflecting on the closure of Assemblage and all its accomplishments and challenges over the years. Take a listen for more insight into this decision:
We have developed amazing friendships and partnerships over the years and would like to get together to commemorate what Assemablge has meant to each of us over the years. If Assemblage has made a positive impact on you recently or in the early years, we would love to celebrate with you. Please join us for a casual picnic on Sat 9 Nov, see event here:
Our website has hosted a lot of information and resources for artists. The website will go offline in September 2020. You can see an archive of the website here:
Or else we have moved all useful information to a group on Facebook, “Assemblage Resource Group”:
And you can visit our Facebook page to view photo albums of all our events over the years: