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Knysna gallerist Trent Read celebrates 50 years in art

Posted on Tue September 26, 2023.

Knysna’s Trent Read has been involved in the business of art for 50 years.

Knysna Fine Art owner, Trent Read, will celebrate a career of half a century as an art dealer when his gallery celebrates its 25th anniversary in November this year. 

“I grew up with artists,” he said. “My dad was a dealer, so they were part and parcel of my life. If they were staying with us, they were there at the breakfast table – so I always knew them, and some of them were major names.”

This instilled in him a “good knowledge and deep interest in art across the spectrum and in the various disciplines.” 

But, he said, his particular interest encompasses contemporary art and contemporary artists.

“Finding artists at the early stages of their career, recognising their quality, and then giving them the opportunities they need – that’s what excites me.”


Mr Read began his working life as a prospector in Northern Namibia, and used the money he earned there to take himself to London, where he joined the auction house Christie’s. 

“I started as a porter, knowing very little or nothing about anything – but my goodness I learned. Standing in the sale rooms, holding those beautiful objects up as they were being sold, and listening to the world’s top dealers, clients, and collectors. It was wonderful.

“After some years there, I came back and worked in the family business” (the Everard Read Gallery). 

In the mid-80s, at the height of the cultural boycott, the company sent Mr Read to open a gallery in San Antonio, Texas, to serve its numerous American clients.

“I loved America: I was becoming an American – it is a melting pot – and I was doing fairly well. But 1991, when I heard that Mandela had been released, I decided to come home.” 

Back in Johannesburg, Mr. Read opened the Everard Read Contemporary – a revolutionary space in its day, which showed exclusively works by living South African artists: this had never been done before.

“Shortly afterwards we had the ‘94 elections and my son was born, and I thought this was the time to move to Knysna – and the rest is history: I opened Knysna Fine Art in ‘98, and we’ve been in Knysna for twenty five years now.”


Outside of the gallery, Mr Read’s interests stretch books, cooking, science, and current affairs, and he relishes walking in the veld in the Klein Karoo.

“I’ve had a wonderful time of it,” he says, “and I’ll be celebrating my 50-year-long career on the 25th and 26th of November this year, when Knysna Fine Art will celebrate its 25th anniversary with an exciting, major exhibition.”

More information: www.finearts.co.za