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by Julie Purdon

At the age of twenty one, with high hopes and big dreams, Alana Reid set off from her beloved home in Africa to spend a year exploring the world!

Alana quickly became captivated by the multifaceted wonders of Europe and, it was during this exciting time that she met her Australian born husband. So, one year of travelling became three and when she arrived in Melbourne in 1997, three years became a very long time!

Melbourne was an obvious place for the couple to settle, since Ashton had lived there his whole life. With a strong emphasis on art, fashion and culture, her new home reminded Alana of Cape town. Alana was drawn to the myriad of art galleries in Melbourne, specifically those specialising in African art. However, knowing what exquisite work was available to the public “back home”, Alana found herself somewhat disappointed with the limited representation and average standard of African art available in the city (at that time).

It seemed that every time Alana returned to visit South Africa, the art, craft and design industries were bursting with new and exciting talent. She remembers, “from the gallery to the street corner, from refined classical art to raw natural talent, the variety of work was endless”.
So, following a year of research and a few more trips back to South Africa, it was time for Alana to introduce her labour of love to Melbourne.
Today, around 85% of the work showcased at the Afrikana Gallery comes from South Africa. The remaining 15% comes from all over Africa. With two buying trips to South Africa per year, Alana has been able to source an excellent variety of work from artists based in Africa. The types of artworks featured at the gallery include paintings, ceramics, glass, tableware and jewellery. Most of the artists are based in Africa however, Alana does exhibit work from two ex-pat South African artists living in Melbourne.

Afrikana Gallery receives a great mix of clients, some of whom are based overseas. However, the majority of them are based in Australia and there is now a growing number of South Africans supporting the gallery. Alana says that her favourite part of having the gallery is the interaction with her clients. She says “people are genuinely interested in Africa, and want to have an understanding of its people and its culture. Each piece in the gallery has its own beautiful story, and sharing this with my clients is what it is all about.

Alana on Melbourne and South Africa:

What do you love about Melbourne?

The entertainment, gardens and beaches, restaurants and café culture, fashion and old Victorian homes.

What do you miss about Africa?

I miss the vibrancy and the pulse of the country, its colours and smells, but most of all the extreme cultural diversity, which is what gives the country its rhythm and its soul.
Posted in feature |
Posted by Julie Purdon
15 Aug 2008

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