WORDS Michaela Stehr
Multidisciplinary street and studio artist FaithXLVII speaks to VISI about her work processes and her conceptual collaboration with Hennessy Very Special.
During the decade of artistic collaborations within the Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition series, Hennessy has partnered with some of the art world’s leading visionaries. In 2020, original artwork by Faith XLVII marks the 10th annual collaboration, welcoming her into an interconnected global community that includes Felipe Pantone, Vhils, Shepard Fairey and Futura.
Your evocative works are seen around the globe, with your street-art pieces holding a strong social commentary and meaning. Is this theme extending to your studio work and your transition into fine art?
The works always flow over into one another and inform each other. Often there will be one theme that flows over from public work to a new media work to a painting, and references and links between them. Next year at my solo show in Cape Town, the works will be in different mediums.
I’ve done a whole series on the streets of Johannesburg connected to that show. I like the feeling of being able to be quite expansive and explorative.
What is it like to be the first female voice in the Hennessy collaboration – especially after being a woman artist in a scene dominated by men?
It’s important for a woman to step into that space, and I’m honoured to be that woman. The lineage of artists who have collaborated with Hennessy before me includes people I deeply admire and respect. I’m happy to come into that fold. Hennessy chooses its artists as part of a mutual understanding and respect for the artistic process. There is a lot of creative freedom and trust.
I’ve incorporated a lot of respect for the natural world into my design, the understanding of Hennessy’s processes and how it’s affected by the seasonal changes – how time is vital for the creation of the product. Hennessy has been using the same processes for 250 years; it’s quite a hands on, crafted procedure. We want to keep the craftsmanship, connecting to my works by revering nature, and connecting to the cycles of time and planetary phases.
The work is also inspired by the metaphor of the alchemical processes, and old Eastern and Western sundials. It felt like a very natural progression.
Collaboration is important in art. What have you learnt from joining forces with Hennessy on this project?
My 2019 Design Indaba talk was about collaboration, and how, when I collaborate, it’s a very specific and personal interaction. We’re learning from each other. Often, collaboration happens with someone from a different field of work, so we create something neither of us could do alone.
Some of my favourite collaborations have been with South Africans: Inka Kendzia, Lyall Sprong, Dane Dodds, Imraan Christian and Simon Rademeyer. Finding meaningful connections to create new things while learning is important to me. My artistic journey isn’t just about creating work – it’s about being alive, and the living process of community.
For more information, visit faith47.com.