The annual three-day Turbine Art Fair (TAF) begins on 16 July and contains a programme tailor-made for first-time art buyers and emerging artists. Creative Feel spoke to Glynis Hyslop, the driving force and founder of TAF.
Art has the ability to make one ecstatic. This is the sentiment of Glynis Hyslop, the MD of The Forum Company and coordinator of Turbine Art Fair. The Bacchanalia knew this thrill in ancient Greece. The otherwise stoic art connoisseurs of the Golden Age would engage in revelries during a week-long festival of the arts. Today, it is difficult to imagine an art-collector jumping for joy when they see an image that moves them. They may quietly poise a hand across their chest or carefully place a finger on the chin to gingerly show their appreciation. Ask a collector to tell you the story about why they bought the piece that hangs in their home when they are entertaining, and it is an entirely different kind of response. A woman let tears simply roll down her face when she beamingly relayed the tale of how she purchased a Nhlanhla Xaba print because she had seen in it what she had been praying for; and returned to an exhibition in his honour to thank him for the two daughters from his artwork, who were now her daughters. Glynis Hyslop grew up among her father’s art collection as her father – not exactly an art-lover – had an investment in an art gallery. But it was not until she spent a day at a gallery, excitedly learning about art on paper, that she fell head-over-heels in love. The only problem with art, as she says, is that ‘it can be addictive’.
TAF is ‘Africa’s most exciting contemporary art fair,’ in the words of Hyslop. It is certainly intoxicating to know that, during the weekend of 16 to 19 July at the expansive
Turbine Hall in the Newtown cultural precinct, a person can wander through the collectables of more than 50 galleries and exhibitions. The burgeoning art collector
can attend talks to enable them to make their purchases wisely, they can talk to gallery owners and artists to get the full story behind the pieces that make them joyful,
and can even find literature to whet their appetites whilst actually sampling some of the Turbine Art Fair’s artisan food. They can do all this while tapping their feet to the smooth melodies of a band. And, if they have children, they can share their exhilaration with Johannesburg culture by giving them the chance to create their own prodigious artworks at the STAEDTLER Kids’ Café. As art can be addictive, parents should know what they are in for if their children also find themselves falling in love with art, like little Glynis Hyslop did years ago. The MD, who still gets excited about TAF as it grows more successful each year, says of art: ‘It’s a representation of how we see the world around us and it speaks to your own personal journey throughout this life.’
Not only has Hyslop made art part of the way she paints her journey through life but she has also put structures into TAF that help young artists carve a significant career in the arts as well. The unofficial slogan for the Turbine Art Fair is that it is the most exciting contemporary art fair in Africa, because that is how Hyslop has created it and why serious gallery managers send their best emerging artists to exhibit at TAF. Hyslop says, ‘The Turbine Art Fair is exciting as new artists are revealed, exciting because of the special projects, because it’s a great space and experience for all ages, exciting because it gives visitors access to top galleries.’ At the heart of the matter is that art really matters to Hyslop and she cares about ensuring the continued success of South Africa’s young talent. The special projects, that are a significant section of the fun, showcase emerging creators from across the country and provide them with support and mentorship as well as necessary recognition. ‘We want to showcase the diversity of art production, and we believe we can achieve this by creating sustained training and conversation platforms for artists and artist collectives within the art fair environment,’ Hyslop states.
The Turbine Art Fair is a tremendous space for engaging with like-minded, ambitious, art-lovers and those looking to learn more about the art world. Named for its location in the mammoth Turbine Hall, TAF employed an architect to ensure visitors glimpse ‘every brick [that] speaks of its colourful history within Newtown Johannesburg.’ While TAF may not be Bacchic, it is epic. And, in Hyslop’s words, addictive because, ‘the more you learn the more one wants to learn!’