It’s a warm day, so Mark Read suggests we sit on the deck outside his home on top of the Everard Read Gallery for our chat. The views from up here are spectacular, and Read’s two passions are immediately evident: art and conservation. He eagerly points out the baobab tree he is busy growing – just one of the many well-tended plants that fill the rooftop space.
He points out a striking bronze by Deborah Bell; a custodian of the skyline, visible from his bedroom window. Read’s love of sculpture is the reason for our meeting. Everard Read Gallery represents most of the sculptors in South Africa – sculpture gardens like Norval Foundation or Nirox are dotted with large-scale three-dimensional works by some of the country’s most respected artists, most of whom are Everard Read artists.
Mark Read is deputy chairperson of the WWF South Africa Board, has previously held positions at Christie’s Fine Art Auctioneers, London, and was a founding trustee of The Rhino and Elephant Foundation, a co-founder of the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) and a founding partner of the Great Plains Conservation Tourism Company. He took over as director of Everard Read Gallery from his father in 1990 and has been a part of the business for 40 years. When he took the reigns, the gallery, which is now 105 years old, ‘sold about 20% bronzes and 80% paintings, and now it is absolutely the other way around for this business, and I find it absolutely remarkable,’ says Read.
‘I’m privileged to lead the team whilst I’m around here, in growing it as much as we can, and doing what we can for artists from all over the continent. People are really deeply interested in what is happening, and not a day goes by without some extraordinary person from somewhere in the world reaching out and trying to find out how they interface with us and the artists we show.’
That the gallery now specialises in large pieces, says Read, is ‘half conscious, half chance.’ One thing he does credit for making this possible is the excellent foundries that we have in South Africa. ‘About 20 years ago, for various reasons, the foundries upped their game. South Africa has brilliant foundries, quite a number, and the bronzes that they produce are really, I generally hate the term “world-class”, but they are. They’re up there with anything, anywhere.’
Everard Read’s artists are achieving enormous successes internationally and under the guidance of Mark Read, Everard Read is now the go-to gallery in South Africa for sculpture collectors across the globe. With galleries in Rosebank, Cape Town, Franschhoek and London, Everard Read is, as Read puts it, a rising star.
To read more about what Mark has to say about sculpture in South African and artists like Dylan Lewis, Deborah Bell, Brett Murray, and Angus Taylor, purchase your copy of our December 2018 / January 2019 issue from only R18! Or continue supporting the arts and culture sector by subscribing to our monthly Creative Feel magazine from R180 per year.