Standard Bank recently hosted the culmination of its Portraits in Progress campaign at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg Central. The one-night-only ‘Insta-bition’ featured unique photographs taken by undiscovered artists who find beauty in everyday scenes and people, linking them to critical networks and allowing the public the valuable opportunity to admire and purchase their art.
In early 2016, Standard Bank undertook a journey to discover and capture the stories of ordinary yet inspirational South Africans experienced through the lenses of the most talented, but undiscovered photographers. In this way, Portraits in Progress was born, a network of storytellers and content creators invested in a collective movement.
“Portraits in Progress is a haven for emerging artists who have chosen Instagram as their canvas,” explains Belinda Carreira, Head of Interactive Marketing at Standard Bank Group. “Through their talent and passion, we can highlight a side of South Africa that has never been seen before.”
The ‘Insta-bition’ (a portmanteau of “Instagram” and “exhibition”) featured work by the winners of four fortnightly challenges, which were previously displayed on Instagram. The challenges - and the winners in each - were:
Challenge: Capture the person who is your guiding light and let their presence illuminate through your talent.
Winner: Leeroy Jason of Cape Town, who captioned his photograph: “My surroundings do not determine my potential, instead it motivates me more... #Iamgreaterthanmysurroundings.”
Inspiration in Disguise:
Challenge: Find your inspiration in a building or architecture, and immortalise how it influences you.
Winner: Sthembile Ncgobo of Johannesburg, who captioned his photograph as follows: “#InspirationInDisguise, literally, every street corner in some parts of #Johannesburg gets turned into a "business office". I admire how street barbers, street vendors, and other informal traders contest for street corners and control their spaces. In this instance, the man on the cellular phone was explaining what the costs to fix the damaged caused on the car was.”
Beacons of Progress:
Challenge: Share a symbol of success and the story behind what it means to you.
Winner: Viktor Bobchev of Johannesburg, who captioned his photograph as follows: "Power Nap” - Contrary to the persistent intensity of the city, there are those who are seen resting. Perhaps preparing for future urban endeavour. #BeaconsOfProgress"
Moments of Truth:
Challenge: Capture the essence of an environment, event or feeling that inspires you and is a fusion of the people, places and things you are passionate about.
Winner: Jamie-Lee Matthews of Cape Town, who captioned her photograph as follows: “Gathering little truths and lessons has been an important part of my daily life. It's been my experience that our soft spoken communities have the most impactful voices and it's in the stories I gather here that I find my inspiration is realised.”
“Besides being featured in the Standard Bank exhibition, each winner was exposed to valuable networking opportunities, received a percentage of the proceeds made from the portraits sold and received an artist’s commission,” says Mrs Carreira.
As well as being a great success for the featured artists, the initiative itself as well as the exhibition was a success for Standard Bank who received 1 400 from aspirant photographers and was able to donate R13 650 to the iwasshot in joburg initiative – an initiative that provides a platform for former street children to earn an income through the medium of photography – from the proceeds of the event, which was MC’d by popular radio personality Sizwe Dhlomo.
“With our strong focus on entrepreneurial success and as a well-known patron of the arts in South Africa, Standard Bank hopes to continue and expand on initiatives such as these,” concludes Mrs Carreira. “What’s exciting about Portraits in Progress is that we are using modern, accessible technology to make a chance at success available to everyone, and thus, in our own way, making progress real in South Africa.”