While so many others are gearing down for the year end, the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award is gearing up for the third year of its watershed challenge to practitioners of the visual arts. Entries are now open and creatives, artists, and designers are invited to begin work on their submissions. The closing date for Award entries is 13 February 2017.
Semi-finalists will have their work exhibited at Lizamore & Associates gallery in the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award Exhibition and will be included in a catalogue produced to document the project.
The main Award is worth an impressive R 700 000-00 and includes a cash amount of R50 000, while the top 5 finalists will each receive an Award to the value of R 660 000-00 including a R 10 000 cash prize. The prizes include production of the artists’ designs as decals, each to be carried by 10 taxis on national routes for a period of 6 months – as well as an extensive publicity campaign aimed at creating national awareness of their work to kick-start their professional careers. The SA Taxi Foundation Art Award therefore adds significant momentum for emerging artists trying to build a sustainable career.
Won by Tshepo Mosopa in 2015 and Audrey Anderson in 2016, the Award has seen the work of altogether 12 finalists’ work grace 120 taxis that transport hundreds of thousands of South Africans to and from work daily. As a result, the work has been viewed by millions of South Africans, whether as taxi commuters or other road users, causing a buzz wherever it is spotted.
In 2016, the project garnered a Business and Art South Africa (BASA) award in the First Time Sponsor category. As the only long term marriage of art, design, and the taxi industry, it is cited as one of the most innovative projects to emerge from the art sector in some time.
“The SA Taxi Foundation Art Award, which is unique in its combination of fine and graphic art, will continue to be the Foundation’s single biggest individual project, looking to further important goals of diversity, multiculturalism, and the empowerment of small business.“ says Lishani Letchmiah, newly appointed director for the SA Taxi Foundation and Senior Manager Transformation for SA Taxi.
“Inherently, the SA Taxi Group’s day to day activities are transformative. Our business objective is to develop small businesses by providing vehicle finance and revenue-generating services to minibus taxi operators and metered taxi owner-drivers. Our operations therefore enrich the whole of South African society by enabling our customers, who are the transport lifeblood of society, to become sustainable. And then, through the SA Taxi Foundation, we extend our transformation vigor into specific projects designed to empower the communities within which our customers operate.As part of that community focus, the Art Award uniquely responds to the cross-disciplinary way in which the contemporary creative industry operates and reinforces our own guiding principle of innovation.”
Entering the Art Award is a two-step process. Firstly, artists are required to create an original artwork in any medium based on the brief given in the entry form. Secondly they are required to design a decal for a taxi interpreting the ideas and concepts of their original artwork.
These taxi decals should be an extension of the artwork and use either visual elements or interpret the concept of the original work to translate it into a successful taxi decal. Creatives should also consider all of the safety regulations, visual restraints, and cultural sensitivities that can come into play once an artwork moves around a city as a three dimensional object.
While the judges are looking for excellence in the artwork as well as the design work, they will emphasise the way an artist makes the transition from one format to the other.
Says Teresa Lizamore, Director of Lizamore & Associates Gallery, who are project managing Award: “Winners of the award have gone on to grow in recognition in their solo careers. We have just hosted a solo exhibition of 2015 winner, Tshepo Mosopa, and 2016 winner, Audrey Anderson, has successfully participated in a number of industry projects, exhibitions, and competitions. Many of the artists go on to be accepted and supported by the contemporary fine art industry which is a great pat on the back for the SA Taxi Foundation and shows the industry’s support for this unique art award.”
According to Taryn Cohn, fine art consultant and industry professional, “the art award provides a great stepping stone for artists as they are tested in a number of ways. For their art career, it means artists are challenged to create in various ways and translate their message to different audiences via different mediums.”