Unique artwork graces 8.ta stores
Ronél de Jager's work displayed in public space
South Africa's fourth mobile operator, 8•ta has moved beyond mobile communication and has invested in art as an innovative way of communicating.
Three of its seven national flagship stores have been recently adorned with vibrant artworks by three young African artists.
Seeking a colourful, innovative way to communicate the brand, the 8ta team came up with the idea of tapping into the creative skills of promising young artists. Working closely with the Curator of the Telkom Art Collection and a Procurement team, they identified a pool of potential artists and eventually selected three, namely Geneve Eloff, Ronél de Jager and Maurice Mbikayi.
The three stores where the artwork is on display are Hemmingways Mall in East London, Canal Walk in Cape Town and Woodlands Mall in Pretoria.
According Senior Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, "apart from supporting young artists, 8•ta's investment in art is an innovative way of communicating which positions us positively among our customers. It has also added to the value of the Telkom Art Collection".
"Through the young artists unique artwork 8•ta is able to stand out in the mobile market as a vibrant, unique and fresh brand," says Maharaj.
'Fragments of a greater whole'
The work produced by the third young artist, Ronel de Jager, consists of various panels from an art exhibition entitled 123blokmyself! she held in 2009. There were 36 panels originally and Telkom chose a selection of these, which were then combined into the single piece hanging at the 8ta store in Woodlands Mall Pretoria.
“The images become fragments of a greater whole,” Ronél explains. “The fragments represent chance encounters that either resonate and remain with us or are seen and forgotten. For me, the images represent our fragmented, distorted lives; we move so quickly through life that we don’t see the fragments or realise we are part of a greater whole. In a split second when we don’t concentrate, our lives can change forever.”
What she enjoys about having her artwork displayed at an 8ta store is that ordinary South Africans can encounter it. “Corporate collections are sometimes inaccessible; the public can’t view them and most of the South African market doesn’t know what contemporary art is about. It is an honour to be able to introduce contemporary art to the general public.”
About the artists
Maurice Mbikayi was born in Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo and settled in Johannesburg about seven years ago. He has been a full-time artist for the past six years. Maurice has a diploma in graphic design and visual communication, and his work has strong cultural and technological connotations. “As cultural activist, I’m interested in identity, origin and space,” he writes on his website (MauriceMbikayi.com). “I also investigate the effects of technology on identity and history, while unpacking the ways in which technology has had an impact on diverse African populations.”
Geneve Eloff completed her degree in Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria in 2011 and is now doing her MA in Fine Arts at the same university. This Pretoria-based artist encountered Telkom in 2011 when presented an art workshop for Telkom and 8ta in 2011 when they approached fourth-year BA Fine Arts students at the University of Pretoria to come up with proposals for 8ta store artworks. Geneve has also presented an art workshop for the Telkom Art Collection.
Ronél de Jager works full time as the manager of the Artspace gallery in Johannesburg and pursue her career as an artist on a part-time basis from her studio in Parkwood. She studied towards a BA Fine Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology, with the intention of becoming an artist. “Then I realised I needed to step into the market but didn’t know how.” To familiarise herself with the art market, she decided to find a job at a gallery. “I fell in love with the art industry and it’s amazing how much I have learnt,” says Ronel. “I studied to be an artist and now I love the business side of the industry as well.”
Commenting on her approach to art-making, she says: “I don’t want to be too obvious with my work. I want people to think about it.”
- NOVEMBER 2011
Selected works from the 123..blokmyself series by Ronél de Jager. On display at the Telkom 8ta Store, Woodlands Mall, Pretoria.