To celebrate South Africa’s rich history of art and food during Heritage Month in September, Albany Bakeries printed a young South African artist’s winning design on the packaging of millions of loaves of its Albany Superior White and Albany Superior Brown bread.
The winning design by Jiyaad Greeff, a Grade 10 pupil at the National School of the Arts (NSA), was chosen from 28 entries for the 2019 Albany Packaging Award. Young artists were briefed to create a design based on the theme ‘New Generation Traditional Design’ inspired by the work of world-renowned artist Dr Esther Mahlangu.
As part of its efforts to help preserve South Africa’s culture by inspiring young artists to celebrate their country’s heritage through creativity, Albany Bakeries partnered with the NSA and Dr Mahlangu to hold a masterclass for NSA students last year. Inspired by Dr Mahlangu and drawing on their own knowledge of their cultural heritage, participating artists were encouraged to find new generation contemporary expression in traditional design, specifically with the use of symmetrical shapes and a range of colours.
The winning design incorporates inspiration from Mahlangu’s world-famous, contemporary painting technique and showcases South Africa’s diverse heritage, alongside its promising future. The design features figures in traditional dress and playing the vuvuzela, set against a brightly coloured background. A range of bold, bright colours are used to represent South Africa’s multicultural heritage.
‘With this design, I wanted to truly represent South African interests and identity,’ says Greeff.
Still painting at 83, Dr Mahlangu says it is uplifting to pass on her skills by working with young artists: ‘Just as I followed traditions passed down from my mother and grandmother, I am passionate about transferring this skill to the generations after me. I want young people to learn about and be proud of their heritage and, in turn, to teach others.’
As part of his prize, Greeff also got to spend time with Dr Mahlangu at her school in Mthambothini in Mpumalanga where she teaches the technique of painting her iconic geometric designs. Pupils learn how to mix pigments from natural substances and create new designs using their fingers and chicken feathers.
‘It was awesome to understand how this art originated, it opens your mind to see first-hand how South Africa’s different cultures add to our diversity,’ says Greeff.
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