Despite an impossibly demanding schedule, there isn’t a day that goes by that Frank Kilbourn, Executive Chairman of fine art auction house Strauss & Co, doesn’t step inside his study. Of all the rooms in the historical Tamboerskloof home he shares with his wife, Lizelle, and their three children, it is this one that most ignites his imagination. ‘It’s a stimulating space,’ he says. ‘Everything in here is a reflection of my passions.’
Unsurprisingly, one such passion is art. Frank has amassed over 1 200 works by prominent South African names in the 30 years since he began collecting as a student, and his study houses some of his favourites. ‘These are the works I’ll never sell, the ones I want to be part of my inner sanctum for life,’ he notes. This most cherished cluster includes several Robert Hodgins paintings, two Stanley Pinkers, a Pierneef and a dramatic Penny Siopis triptych, all chosen for their ability to evolve as you inspect them, to provoke, challenge and comfort. To ground the room, he’s used the deep browns and blacks of African sculptures, a Persian rug and ebonised wood.
The storehouse for his reading material, an antique bookcase, is one of numerous centuries-old collector’s items in the study – others include an intricately decorated Japanese cabinet, two Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ‘Barcelona’ chairs and an original ‘Eames’ lounge chair. Considering his work with pieces of great historical value, Frank treasures items that have stories to tell. ‘These intransient works inspire me to leave a legacy that will outlast me.’
Photographs Greg Cox