Car wash, art gallery

11 November 2003

In Johannesburg’s Alexandra township there’s a car wash business called the Eksclusive Boyz Kar Wash. On the wall of the car wash is a mural of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, created by MSE (Mzantsi Street Effects), a group of young graffiti specialists from Alex.

The Eksclusive Boyz Kar Wash doubles as an exhibition space for Alex artists, exhibiting local artwork on its premises in an effort to develop skills in the community and, at the same time, to attract customers.

Last year, Chris Maseneke and Mphane Tlhoaele of Eksclusive partnered with law firm Webber Wentzel Bowens to sponsor a young artists’ competition with the objective of uncovering local talent – and received over 100 entries from artists of 21 years or younger.

This year, additional support from public-private initiative Business and Arts South Africa (Basa) enabled the competition to be promoted more widely in Alex, and following an extensive campaign on Alexandra community radio station ALEX FM, 110 entrants submitted work on the theme “Christmas Wish”.

Work by 35 finalists, selected by a panel of judges, will be exhibited at the Upstairs@Bamboo gallery, Rustenburg Road, Melville, from November 11 to 17, and at the Webber Wentzel Bowens offices in Illovo from 21 November to 24 December. The art works will all be on sale, with proceeds going to the artists.

The winners will be announced at a special event on November 21, and five winners will receive prizes totalling R17 000.

Last year’s competition winner, 18-year-old Mandla Mavundla, said he “wanted to prove a point to those people who think that Alex doesn’t have talent. I believe that people in Alexandra suffer a lot and need a saviour. I believe that the person who will help our people in Alex will be born in Alex and understand the standard of living in Alex.”

Basa CEO Nicola Danby said the partnership between Webber Wentzel Bowens and Eksclusive “shows clearly how the corporate sector can engage positively and imaginatively with the community, and make a real difference to people’s lives, through the arts.”

Basa, a joint initiative between government and the business sector, aims to promote sustainable partnerships between the private sector and the arts that will, in the long term, benefit the community at large.

SouthAfrica.info reporter