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Elana Brundyn: The art connoisseur

Updated: Jul 8, 2019



Elana Brundyn @brundynelana is the Chief Executive of @norvalfoundation , the stylish art museum which brings nature conservation and fine art together in its design and houses one of the largest private art collections in South Africa. Elana, who has a background in law and African studies, says her love for art started years ago whilst living on a family farm in Durbanville, where she used her incredible eye for choosing new artists to start building a collection in the farm’s milk shed. While viewing the work of a local artist who had not been able to sell a single one of the 29 paintings in her collection, Elana offered to help find buyers and successfully sold the entire collection to a London restaurateur. This turned out to be Elana’s “aha” moment where she realised that perhaps she had a talent as an art agent and ultimately lead to her establishing and running her own gallery, Brundyn gallery for 12 years. She still remembers getting her first bad review 6 months into her new art gallery – it however prompted her to work very hard to disprove the naysayers.


It was while running this gallery in Cape Town that she was approached by @zeitzmocaa , the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world; to be part of the inaugural team as the director of Institutional Advancement & External Affairs. For her, acceptance of the role was a no-brainer as this was an opportunity to contribute to the institutionalisation of art in SA and to make art available and accessible to everybody. SA has world-class commercial galleries but still has a bit of a road ahead of it (although it is getting better!), in terms of the creation of accessible art institutions. Her massive success at the Zeitz MOCAA, lead to her being headhunted to head up the Norval Foundation whilst on sabbatical, and the rest is South African art history in the making!

We are inspired by how Elana’s innate passion and eye for art and design has driven her success in a space that can be extremely hard to crack as an outsider who is not formally art trained. Elana has a weakness for the British Royals and is a huge fan of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate.

Featured artist: @janine_duplessis

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