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Established in 1968, the Friends of the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG) was created to support the work of the National Gallery – where membership fees have contributed to the acquisition and conservation of artworks, as well as to art-education in the Mother City.
In 2018, in celebration of the Friends 50th anniversary, the Friends hosted Friends50 – an exhibition showcasing a curated selection of artworks taken from the more than 300 Friends-supported acquisitions, purchased during the past fifty years by the Friends on behalf of the National Gallery – at the ISANG. And around the same time, the Friends also made the decision to have the full Cecil Skotnes portfolio – not exhibited before then – archivally framed in museum glass, ensuring the possibility to exhibit it as part of Friends50.
Significant acquisitions by the Friends to the National Gallery Permanent Collection include an important triptych by Cecil Skotnes, acquired on the fifth anniversary of the Friends existence, and, more recently, Mary Sibande’s The Reign – acquired on the advent of the Friends’ 40th, and rivalling Jane Alexander’s The Butcher Boys in its status as an iconic work of South African art. In 1981, the Friends made the rather astute purchase of two etchings by the then relatively unknown William Kentridge. Originally part of the Friends Choice Collection, there etchings were the first Kentridge’s to enter the National Gallery Permanent Collection when they were accessioned by the ISANG in 1986.
The Friends also facilitate the maintenance and conservation of the artworks acquired, acknowledging the importance of collection care. And – over their 50+ years – the Friends have also supported educational programmes, specifically by sponsoring the transport of learners who otherwise would not have the opportunity to visit the ISANG, and by funding workshops and materials used – enabling learners to take away a tangible memory of their time spent at the Gallery.
As an important contributor to the ISANG, the Friends rely on the continued support of members who can, through their memberships, enjoy free entry to the ISANG, attend curated events, and, most recently, receive 10% off full-price items from the Deckle Edge. To become a member of the Friends, or to encourage friends and family to do so, visit https://friendsofsang.co.za/.