The Lockdown Collection was established as a response to the initial announcement of a 21-day lockdown, made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 21 March, 2020. Conceived of as an arts project that would run for the extent of the shelter-in-place measures, the aim is to use the visual arts to document this jarring and confusing time, but also to provide financial support to vulnerable artists.
"The day after our President announced that South Africa would go into lockdown, I received a WhatsApp voice note from Carl Bates," Lauren Woolf is a founding partner of The Lockdown Collection, and the owner of MRS WOOLF, a strategic marketing consultancy.
She explains how a WhatsApp voice note from friend and colleague, Carl Bates of the Sidar Group culminated in this idea, which has since seen itself take on a new life. "He had a kernel of an idea – a 21-day arts project, in which the artists of South Africa would capture this extraordinary time, through their art. These artworks could then be sold or auctioned, and the funds could be used to support artists. My reply was immediate:'I love this!'"
Robyn Penn's Warped Time (Photo: Supplied)
"I reached out to my friend, artist, Professor and the founder of Artist Proof Studio, Kim Berman. We discussed how the project could capture this historic moment in history, for future generations, while also creating a fund that would provide artists with sustainable support. Kim’s excitement matched my own." Kim Berman would in turn, reach out to renowned artist William Kentridge, who provided advice on the mechanics and inner workings of running an art auction.
"The artworks arrived, as word spread and we extended our networks. And soon, we had 21 artworks, from 21 incredible artists. Each day, we revealed one artwork on our social media platforms. Buyers had the opportunity to bid on each piece and we had sponsored reserves in place from corporates and private individuals. At the end of the 21-day campaign, (on 19 April) we held an amazing virtual auction (via live webinar, no less)."
The auction was a success. Every piece in the collection sold, bringing in over R2 million in sales and donations. The proceeds were allocated to The Solidarity Fund, the new Vulnerable Artist fund, as well as a contribution to the artists, with some donating this back into the Funds.
Sam Nhlengethwa's BEE Caucus (Image: Supplied)
"When the President announced the extension of the lockdown, we saw an opportunity to extend the TLC campaign further. We reached out to artists across the country (including those who had approached us during the first campaign, wanting to get involved) and prompted them to create an artwork for the project – a reflection on the Covid-19 pandemic."
The Lockdown Collection now boasts 21 new artworks, from some of the most talented names in the South African art world such as Marco Cianfinelli, Vusi Beauchamp, Robyn Penn and Roger Ballen. These works will not be sold on auction. Instead, they will be made available for purchase through the Artist Proof Studio, from 25 May, 2020. They are also in the process of curating two other collections – an Open Call (for emerging artists) and a Student Collection.
Penny Siopis BEE The Giant Soul (Photo: Supplied)
To date, the Vulnerable Artist Fund has been able to provide over 100 artists with grants from the proceeds of the auction. It is open to all eligible South African visual artists, as well as artists from other African countries currently residing in the country.
To qualify, artists must be over the age of 18, and are required to complete a new application every time they apply to the fund. Successful applicants are requested to contribute an artwork to the fund.
Visit The Lockdown Collection website.