Photo Credit: Supplied - Vusi Beauchamp - We Are Free

A collective of South African artists made and auctioned lockdown artworks to raised funds for an artists relief fund and the Solidarity Fund.


South Africa (19 May 2020)“In terms of artistic response to Covid-19, The Lockdown Collection is the most significant initiative in the art world, on planet earth, right now”.

This is what Professor Mark Auslander, from Central Washington University in the USA, said about The Lockdown Collection – a bold charitable initiative that has already raised over R2 million for artists and for the Solidarity Fund, while also serving as an incubator for the visual arts.

Photo Credit: Supplied – Themba Khumalo – Waiting for Food Parcels

The Lockdown Collection – or TLC – is the brainchild of Carl Bates (Chief Executive of Sirdar Group), Lauren Woolf (Founder and Owner, MRS WOOLF) and Kim Berman (Founding Director Artist Proof Studio; Professor of Visual Arts, UJ). The idea was to curate and auction a collection of Covid-19-related artworks by renowned South African artists, with the proceeds going into a fund which would, in turn, support artists during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic and the lockdown have a significant impact on us all. For the artists of the world, the realities of Covid-19 provide powerful subject material and inspiration. Yet at the same time, the lockdown is affecting their ability to earn a living through the creation of their art. We cannot afford to lose our artists or their incredible artworks – especially not now, when we need them to bear witness to this moment in time,” says Berman.

“Imagine what this lockdown would be like, without the entertainment and inspiration we derive from books, music, TV shows or art – all of which are created by artists,” says Woolf. “We have to protect our artists and build the integrity and historical value of their artworks. These are, after all, snapshots of life at an extraordinary time in history”.

The Lockdown Collection: a R2 million success story

In just two days, from conception to roll-out, the TLC team launched a 21-day lockdown campaign – called The Lockdown Collection, commencing on 27 March 2020.

Each day, the campaign revealed the artwork of a participating artist – among them, Penny Siopsis, Sam Nhlengethwa, Diane Victor, Ardmore Ceramic Art, Gerhard Marx and Thenjiwe Nkosi. The foundation piece, a drawing by William Kentridge, entitled “ Where shall we place our hope ”, was sold for R500 000, which established the Fund prior to the auction.

Buyers placed bids on the artworks, such that each piece was ‘underwritten’ at an average value of R25 000 to R50 000 by the time of the campaign’s concluding auction event – the Unlocking Event. Before the Unlocking Event itself, the reserves had already reached over R500 000. Donations were also welcomed throughout the campaign.

Held on 19 April, 2020, the Unlocking Event auction, hosted by Aspire Art Auctions, was conducted via a unique live webinar session, with a ‘live’ auctioneer and an estimated 500 virtual attendees. The cherry on the top was Artist Proof Studio’s donation of two additional works for auction – one by Lukas Ngweng and another by William Kentridge. The Unlocking Event sold and auctioned every item in the catalogue – something the auction community terms a “white glove sale”. Each piece of art was sold at (or very close to) market value. Sometimes well beyond. But most remarkable is the sum collected by The Lockdown Collection campaign – a staggering R2 million.

This allowed for an immediate initial donation of R250 000 to the President’s Solidarity Fund, as well as instant allocations to the Vulnerable Visual Artists Fund (a fund established by TLC). This Fund has paid out grants to over 100 vulnerable artists, to date.

“You brought joy to my family, as artists depend on the sale of their artworks to make a living,” said one grant recipient. Many others expressed deep gratitude and felt motivated to continue creating art.

The TLC Extension Collection

The incredible support for The Lockdown Collection campaign created a powerful movement within the arts community; artists reached out to the TLC team, wanting to support the project. When the President announced the extension of the lockdown, the TLC team saw an opportunity to extend the initial campaign and build on its successes.

“We had hoped to start a movement, which would create a sustainable source of support for the arts community. The Extension Collection, as we have called it, is the manifestation of this,” explains Woolf.

The Extension Collection’s curator, artist and University of Johannesburg Senior Lecturer, Gordon Froud, reached out to artists across South Africa, including those who had expressed an interest to contribute, inviting them to participate, to reflect on life during Covid-19 through their art. The result is a collection of 21 extraordinary works – everything from drawings, to prints, sculptures and photographs – created by some of the country’s most respected artists, including Susan Woolf, Michael Meyersfeld, Marco Cianfanelli, Vusi Beauchamp, Robyn Penn, Themba Khumalo and Sifiso Temba – to name a few.

Photo Credit: Supplied – Sifiso Temba – The Defender

These Extension Collection artworks will be available for purchase from 25 May 2020, via an online storefront hosted by the TLC’s key partner, Artist Proof Studio. The proceeds of the sale (as well as any donations received) will again be directed to the President’s Solidarity Fund and the Vulnerable Visual Artist Fund.

Giving emerging artists an opportunity to rise

TLC has also issued an Open Call to emerging artists, including students, inviting their submissions. This presents up-and-coming artists with an opportunity to showcase their work and build their profile. The artworks submitted will be allocated to two additional collections, each of 21 artworks: An Open Call collection and a Student collection.

For art collectors, the sale of the Collections is the perfect opportunity to purchase a truly special artwork, and contribute to a fund that is sustaining the creative arts in South Africa, at a time when art may be the most poignant contemplation of the global pandemic.

“The first campaign built incredible momentum. It motivated South African artists to get involved – to create something that would capture the essence and the nuances of life during the Covid-19 pandemic. This campaign also elevated art and gave it importance; it’s not simply paint on paper – it is a legitimate and powerful reflection on a moment in history, as seen through the eyes of a visual storyteller. That the TLC campaign managed to generate funding of over R2 million, through a unique auction model, is simply incredible. It has allowed us to create a sustainable safety net for the arts community, as well as to contribute to the Solidarity Fund and uplift our fellow South Africans.

This is a legacy we can be deeply proud of, and it has given us all the purpose we need to launch a second campaign, with passion and enthusiasm,” says Bates.

Photo Credit: Supplied – Robyn Penn – Warped Time

For more information about TLC and the Lockdown Extension, visit The Lockdown Collection

website ( ) and follow its social media pages:

● Facebook:

● Twitter:

● Instagram:

Sources: Press Release
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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