Theme: South African Essence

With traditional methods of advertising in a state of flux many brands are looking at new and expressive ways to engage people. Such was the case when Halls partnered with advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and Street Network, to create the ‘Own the Moment’ campaign which celebrated the personal happy moments of South Africans. Cape Town artists Mrs + Mr Luke were commissioned to creatively interpret selected stories that had been submitted by members of the public through a nationwide competition. With themes like ‘Making time to make things happen’ and ‘Waking up at 5 to fulfil my dreams’, the couple was set the task of illustrating eight bus shelters to bring the stories to life in high-impact moments on the streets of Joburg. Independent artists in their own right, Faatimah Mohamed-Luke and her husband Al Luke are a creative marriage made in heaven. Both are from a design background and have moved in to art to explore what Mr Luke describes as a “new African style”, through an upbeat, colourful and accessible visual language. However, they both have their own very distinctive signatures. Mrs Luke’s is crisp, structured and precise. With a grounding in graphic, fashion and textile design she is fascinated by tessellation (tight geometric designs created by shaped tiles) and complex patterns, and she works with miniature plastic blocks to create large, colourful panels based on cultural narratives. Mr Luke’s work is more expressive and free-hand; his graphic painting meanders over a surface, taking the eye to various points of interest rather than having one focal point. It is in contrast to his ‘day job’ as a creative director in branding and graphic design for Tencent Africa where the needs of clients demand a more constrained approach. Working together on the bus shelters took some collaborative negotiation and planning to make the right impact but both artists’ signature styles comes through. “What excited us with this, was that the project was going to be on the street and not in an intimidating art space,” explains Mrs Luke. “Al and I want to make art as accessible as possible and we strive to do public art campaigns that people can experience daily.” What did become clear to them in the conceptual stage was that Mr Luke would create the overall background design and Mrs Luke would add in icons of plastic brick panels with the separate elements joining as one to tell the full story of the person’s ‘moment’. “We choose vibrant colours that would really stand out against the urban environment,” says Mr Luke. And they certainly do – stopping people in their tracks to explore the narrative right around the shelter. Over two weekends they hand-painted the vinyl-wrapped shelters and installed the tactile plastic icons, gathering a growing audience as they did, both on the streets and virtually. “It was really endearing how people engaged with it and accepted what we did. And it was being followed ‘live’ as we installed on Instagram. We got people who travelled just to see them or take a journey on the buses to see each one,” explains Mrs Luke. As a campaign for Halls the campaign was a huge success and a lesson for any brand on original and memorable engagement with the customer. By using the creative power of artists and designers to tell everyday stories it has a much longer and lasting impact than any traditional hard sell.

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.