Natalie Knight Gallery founder tells of spark that ignited passion and how finding valuable works came naturally

Her mother was a lawyer. Zamie Liknaitzky, whom she married at the age of 19, was also a lawyer. She studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand and, after passing her board exams, was admitted as an attorney. It seemed inevitable that Natalie Knight was set for a legal career.

That was not to happen though, as another calling beckoned — the world of the arts. Her change in focus was sparked by her second date with her husband-to-be.

“Zamie cancelled a date with someone else and took me to see Margot Fonteyn at the Johannesburg Arts Festival. I was bowled over by the ballet and the opportunity to watch a great star like Fonteyn,” Knight recalls in her memoir, The Big Picture: an “Art-O-Biography” that she co-wrote with veteran journalist Lana Jacobson.

“Until meeting Zamie, I had never been to a live theatrical show or stepped into an art gallery. Zamie opened a new cultural world. He encouraged my creativity and independence and enabled me to find my own voice and opinions.

“I realised that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

The book, which also features photographs of leading magnates who did business with Knight at the height of her art-dealing career, does not only recall her personal life, but also the history of South African art. read more