Finalists in three categories in the 2020/21 BASA (Business and Arts South Africa) Awards, the breakthrough art initiative, The Lockdown Collection, was awarded the SMME and First Time Sponsor awards at this year’s virtual ceremony.
Mrs Woolf, with arts partner, Artist Proof Studio (APS) won the SMME award, and Sirdar with arts partner APS, won the First Time Sponsor Award. The trio of Sirdar, Mrs Woolf and APS were also runners up in the Innovation category.
The art-inspired initiative was conceived and developed by Carl Bates (Founding Partner of Sirdar), Lauren Woolf (Founder, Mrs Woolf) and Kim Berman (Founding Director, Artist Proof Studio. Professor, Visual Arts, UJ).
The origins of TLC
The Lockdown Collection (TLC) is a charitable initiative conceived and launched within 48 hours on the eve of South Africa’s historic first Covid-19 Lockdown in March 2020. The founding enterprises – Sirdar and Mrs Woolf – partnered with APS to develop and accelerate an idea aimed at capturing the historic time in SA and globally through art in order to raise desperately needed funds for artists and the broader community as a result of the instant fallout of the pandemic.
The TLC concept was to curate 21 art pieces, one for each day of the initial lockdown, each created by a different South African artist that reflected the thoughts, feelings, vision or captured moments of their Covid-19 experience. Each piece would be part of a historic ‘Lockdown Collection’ that would be hosted online and sold at the end of the 21 days.
The founding work to kickstart the project was a work donated by William Kentridge. Participating artists included a broad spectrum of talent – including Penny Siopis, Gerhard Marx, Colbert Mashile, Lindo Zwane, Ardmore Ceramic Art, Walter Oltmann, Diane Victor, Thenjiwe Nkosi, and others.
On 19 April, less than a month later, an innovative online ‘Unlocking event’ saw over R2 million raised in just a few hours. The auction was a ‘white glove sale’ – every artwork in the auction sold, including additional artworks by Kentridge sold in an innovative Zoom live bidding format.
Proceeds from the auction went to a newly created Vulnerable Artist Fund (VAF) to support as many vulnerable individuals in the visual arts as possible and a portion went to the President’s Solidarity Fund to help all vulnerable people of SA in their time of need.
Taking TLC into the future
Due to the interest and momentum that TLC received, the initiative has continued until today, with multiple Collections and fundraising art sales. Close to R4 Million has now been raised to date, with over 500 grants awarded as well as 50 art student bursaries.
‘Art and artists have always been a critical part of society and culture. Many have or will lose their livelihoods and have little means to survive. But they absolutely must – they are humanity’s lens and the visual authors of our time,’ says Berman of the importance of supporting artists.
‘The furthest thought from our minds when this idea surfaced was any accolade beyond the initial sales of artwork so that we could raise money to keep artists sustained. This is now a formidable legacy and we’re planning to keep building the initiative,’ says Carl Bates. ‘We hope it helps keep inspiring all businesses – no matter how big or small – to support the arts.’
‘TLC is a model where artists support other artists by donating a portion of the sales of their work to the fund and buyers and collectors are rewarded by curated works of this time – and that the proceeds help others. It’s a virtuous circle where everyone is a recipient of positive exchange,’ says Lauren Woolf. ‘This project demonstrates how, even in these trying times, even online, you can take something from an idea to execution with the right team onboard,’ adds Woolf.
TLC also received positive feedback locally and abroad. The historic significance of The Lockdown Collection was internationally recognised. Professor Mark Auslander from Central Washington University in the USA stated just prior to the auction that ‘this is the most significant initiative in the art world on planet earth right now.’
For more information visit TLC’s website.