The Missions House Gallery, which has been a historical landmark in Onrus for over three decades, has sadly closed its doors. But the good news is that owner Glenda Pope’s framing business runs on and she will be in attendance at the studio to assist and guide clients as before.

Glenda Pope and Leroy Henn in the framing studio of The Mission’s House in Onrus.

Remaining at Glenda’s side is the highly-skilled Leroy Henn, who has been responsible for
the framing side of business for 15 years. Glenda says their skills are complementary, and with her art background and his resourceful frame-making experience they make a formidable team.

The framing
What is so special about Glenda’s framing? Well, her input is always tentative as she listens to the client–consultative, cooperative and honest without being brutal. Unlike selling artworks, framing skills  cannot be short-circuited by a search on the internet and a visit to the artist after a leisurely look at their work on display in a gallery.

Some who do this are quite unconscious of the inevitable result for a business. If this is indeed the way it is going, galleries will simply be increasingly wary of showing living artists – a vital function in the art world.

With a fine arts degree and a background in lecturing and teaching art, Glenda worked with Johans Borman at the Onrus Gallery for 13 years before turning her home into a gallery and framing studio with the blessing of Johans, who was moving to Cape Town. She thrived because she had the know-how and the eye, and was fair to her clients and her artists.

Now, she says, it is time to step back from active gallery work and focus on her framing business.

The house
What will happen to The Mission’s House itself? Onrus was but a sleepy village back in 1980 when Glenda and her husband purchased what was then a dilapidated old house.

But Glenda was charmed by the modest sandstone cottage built by Moravian missionaries
from Genadendal in 1820 and used by the missionaries as a holiday home.

The house had retained all its original features and character, and over the years Glenda
lavished it with love and care while raising her children, Bevan and Braelea, and later
establishing the gallery and framing workshop.

The heritage building does not lend itself to being chi-chied up as a restaurant or retail space. At present Glenda has dipped her toe in the Airbnb market with a delightful apartment upstairs at the rear, looking on to the leafy courtyard and far enough away from the Caravan Park to be peaceful. This has proved so successful that the rest of the house is being stylishly revamped and will soon be available for holiday lets too. Glenda’s daughter Braelea is managing this side of the business with the same flair that she brings to Mission’s House’s internet presence on Instagram, Facebook and website, missionshousegallery.co.za

Artists’ colony
Hermanus will be sad to say farewell to The Mission’s House. (The extra “s” came on advice from a numerologist who found the original name inauspicious.) Glenda has  been a link between the original artists’ colony and its position today as a characterful extension of Greater Hermanus.

During the era of Jan Rabie and Marjorie Wallace, of Gregoire Boonzaaier andAudrey Fourie, of sculptor Bill Davis, of Tertia Knaap and Maxie Steytler with their art school and the quaint Greek chapel among the milkwoods, Glenda has interacted with them all in addition to her current stable of artists who will be snapped up by other galleries.

The Studio
Framing will continue under Glenda’s expert eye. Call 072 828 4705 if you want to ensure her presence. The landline is 028 316 2269. The best framing will still be available, archival paper, conservation standard, handfinished spacers. Art lovers are aware how framing can enhance a work significantly. Sometimes all that is needed is a new mount or a replacement of cracked glass; a fresh look at minimal cost.

“I shall miss the friends, the festive season regulars and swallows, the families whose collections I have helped build up,” Glenda muses with misty eyes. And indeed clients and their young often feel they have had an educational experience in the nicest way so they always planned a visit to the gallery while on holiday.

Don’t stay away, says Braelea, come by and continue to enjoy the framing or pop in to see the fresh bright décor of the accommodation, part farm house, part beach house. The old order may be changing but The Mission’s House remains to welcome you.

The Mission’s House in Onrus, then.
The Mission’s House in Onrus, now.

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