Sunday Times: 'No glass ceiling as Turbine Art Fair goes through the roof'

Published 01 August 2023 in Press

Sunday Times

'IN PICS I No glass ceiling as Turbine Art Fair goes through the roof'

By Craig Jacobs

Sunday Times - Lifestyle - A-listers

Published 30 July 2023

Formerly in a basement, the TAF has moved up in the world and settled on the rooftop of the swanky Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Joburg’s money belt.

Nolwazi Gcaba and Connie Motshumi at the Turbine Art Fair opening night at Hyde Park Corner shopping centre, Johannesburg. 'Image: MASI LOSI'

It was a case of art going through the roof at the opening of a four-day fest held atop the shopping haunt of Joburg’s well-heeled set on Thursday evening.

The Turbine Art Fair (TAF) has gone from an underground basement in a Newtown landmark (which inspired its name), to a disused office block, to a parking garage.

And, as it enters its second decade of shining the spotlight on new and emerging artists selling their wares for prices that won’t break the bank, the art fair has settled on the rooftop of the swanky Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Joburg’s money belt.

To get there, guests headed inside the mall and up a plush blue staircase (read: nicely carpeted scaffolding) through the ceiling of the mall’s upper level.

Entering the venue and events space run by the Forum Company (which is owned by TAF founder Glynis Hyslop), I come across artist Luke Rudman (turned out in an ensemble deserving of 'RuPaul’s Drag Race'), who is painting away on a giant canvas.

I find liquid refreshment in the form of a Paloma cocktail while catching up outside with renowned stylist Felipe Mazibuko in the Don Julio X The Forum eatery.

Heading into another hall, I am drawn to a giant sculpture comprising hundreds of arum lilies fashioned from domestic irons, by Usha Seejarim, which welcomes art lovers.

“This is an installation, but you can buy an individual piece and in that way the art pollinates,” explains Usha about the work inspired by the Greek mythology tale of Hera and Zeus.

I spot society grand dame Peta Eggierth-Symes and her dutiful husband, Peter, as they take in the works at Raynier de Klerk-Matthee’s Escap3 Gallery booth.

Peta, who accidentally knocks over her glass of red as she heads over to greet me, is particularly taken by the art of Botshabelo-born Neo Theku at the stand.

The fresh-faced artist, whose photographic work exploring themes of mental health among young black men, is already drawing acclaim and I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows in the footsteps of the internationally feted visual activist Zanele Muholi.

Judi Nwokedi at the TAF opening night. 'Image: MASI LOSI'

Picking up tasty morsels such as shredded chicken and pineapple slaw mini tacos, arancini balls with saffron and prawn filling, and goat’s cheese-stuffed dates from passing waiters, I greet Glynis, draped in a Thebe Magugu shift.

Hello also to crafting queen Eugenie Drakes before giving a huge hug to someone I haven’t seen in yonks.

That’s veteran broadcaster and all-round gorgeous being Shado Twala who, the day before, had compèred the artist lineup announcement for the upcoming Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

To my surprise, Shado tells me she’s been living in Joburg for the past year.

While in our neck of the woods, the chair of the Cape Town-based Craft + Design Institute has also been involved in setting up a satellite office for the non-profit in Parktown.

Shado introduces me to another well-known radio voice (who I hadn’t met before), Brenda Sisane, and the two gladly pose for a pic in front of one of my fav pieces at this year’s fair, an impressive acrylic on canvas of vintage documents including old newspapers by Andrew Ntshabele, titled 'Multilayered Memories 1'.

Everywhere I turn there are more familiar faces, such as Laurence Brick and Cathy O’Clery of creative agency Platform, art-loving lawyer Nolwazi Gcaba, communications guru Connie Motshumi, and Thebe Magugu, who draped the mall’s centre court with 8m-long dresses inspired by his Mother and Child heritage capsule collection.

Then there are the not-so-familiar, partly because their faces are covered — one in a white and blue mask and a hoodie who I don’t get a chance to chat to, and another who, with his adidas takkies and check threads, looks like any other arty type — except for the medieval-looking face covering with ears, which he has rocked up in.

Turns out, Kaelik Dullaart is not a knight in search of a damsel in distress, but one of the young artists participating in the fair’s mentorship programme, TAF Unearthed.

Artist Kaelik Dullaart. 'Image: MASI LOSI'

Brenda Sisane and Shado Twala at the TAF opening night at Hyde Park Corner shopping centre. 'Image: MASI LOSI'

“This is my protection. It’s such a harsh world where people are so judgmental, so I wanted to hide myself a bit,” explains the Gen Zer.

Meanwhile, one might have assumed that Judi Nwokedi had come straight from a bikers’ rally resplendent in her black leather jacket and gloves.

The reason for her arriving late is a lot less thrilling.

“It was an audit and risk subcommittee meeting,” says the business leader.

And the most glam?

Didi Mogashoa in a dramatic design by Viviers.

However, having recently discovered that the life coach and mindfulness practitioner is on the board of the Manzi Mashatile Foundation, which our deputy prez founded in honour of his late wife a couple of years ago, I am more interested in finding out if Didi has been to that Waterfall City mansion.

“No,” smiles the statuesque philanthropist. “And I haven’t been to any of the weddings. I was working.”

Didi Mogashoa and Thebe Magugu at the TAF opening night. Image: MASI LOSI

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