TAF: ‘The accessible art fair’

Glynis Hyslop with artists David Koloane (left) and Pat Mautloa at the Turbine Art Fair.

The Johannesburg based Forum Company is hosting the fifth Turbine Art Fair (TAF17) in July in Newtown. Johan Myburg spoke to Glynis Hyslop, founder of TAF and Managing Director of The Forum Company.

Based on other models of affordable art fairs across the world Glynis Hyslop introduced Johannesburg to the first Turbine Art Fair (TAF) in 2013. Her aim was to promote art at an affordable price presented by upcoming as well as established contemporary artists. Although quality was the sine qua non right from the start, the price tags attached to artworks in the first year ranged between R1 000 and R25 000.

The success of that first TAF propelled Hyslop and her team to extend the fair as an annual event combining the two main ingredients: an open-minded public and participating artists presented by gallerists, brought together in a relaxed setting enhanced by live music and good food.

Preparing for TAF17 Hyslop acknowledges that she is now less scared than five years ago. “My biggest fear was that nobody would turn up,” she says, hinting at the notion that at that time the fair might have been a once off event. The more than 3 000 people attending the two-day event in 2013 allayed all fears and attendance has grown ever since. This year more than 50 galleries are showing exhibits from across South Africa.

“The idea certainly came from the London model,” Hyslop reflects on the trajectory TAF has taken in the last five years. “We started off being an affordable art fair, and we have moved much more into an accessible art fair. We still have a ceiling price (of R50 000 this year) but most of the work is being sold between R5 000 and R10 000.”

Three years ago Hyslop introduced the The Graduate Painters Show when she commissioned Hentie van der Merwe to curate a show of exciting work by postgraduate art students at tertiary institutions in the country. Last year Tanya Poole was the curator of the Graduate Painters Show and this year Jessica Webster is curating Touch, an exhibition “featuring surface quality and texture”. Touch is being curated in collaboration with Amber-Jade Geldenhuys and MC Roodt.

“Since my passion lies with painting I am really looking forward to this show,” Hyslop adds. “Jessica Webster has a keen eye and I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with.”

Fresh Produce, curated again by Rolihlahla Mhlanga, is aimed at creating an opportunity for selected artists who are young and emerging, to participate and display their work. “Initially we selected the artists, showed their work and sent them on a mentorship programme. Now the selected artists exhibit their work after a six-month intensive workshop programme presented by Assemblage in collaboration with VANSA.”

This programme focuses on process and conceptual development as well as professional practice training. The ultimate outcome is to strengthen the artists’ work as a whole by providing those who participate not only a guide through the development of their work but very importantly the tools in order to put their career into action within the industry.

A major disappointment for Hyslop is the absence of major exhibitions in the CBD coinciding with TAF17 (like the Matisse exhibition last year). “But we have a beaded Casspir from Ralph Ziman’s Casspir Project. This surely will add a bit of entertainment.”

South African film director Ziman’s Casspir Project charts the locus of the South African military vehicle’s legacy of institutional oppression — a legacy with which we are still reckoning. The central element of the project is one of reclamation. The restored and refitted Casspir vehicle, its surfaces fully covered in elaborate, brightly-colored panels of glass beadwork, arrayed in traditional patterns was completed by artisans from Zimbabwe and Mpumalanga, including Ndebele women, known for their craftsmanship.

“And then I am interested to see the reaction to Anton Taljaard’s Pierneef collection and to hear the story of a serious collector,” she adds. “The Turbine Art Fair has undoubtedly made its mark as a not-to-be-missed event for art lovers and those looking to learn more about South Africa’s rich art scene. There’s bound to be something to catch everyone’s eye.”


Dates and times

Thursday 13 July        18:00-21:00

First Access cocktail event with substantial canapés and wine included in ticket price.

Tickets R750 per person via webtickets


Friday 14 July        11:00-20:00

Saturday 15 July        10:00 -18:00

Sunday 16 July        10:00-17:00


Tickets:          R100 at the door or R90 online via webtickets

R 200 Weekend pass (Fri, Sat & Sun)

R50 children, students & pensioners

For safety and convenience, TAF17 is now a completely cashless environment.

For more info or to buy tickets visit www.turbineartfair.co.za. For more information on The Forum Company visit www.theforum.co.za.