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Saturday, October 26, 2013


(Bambo Sibiya who, along with Diane Victor and Willem Boshoff, are major personal contributors to the Absa L’Atelier)

Blood. Sweat. Tears. That’s what it takes to produce great art. Nobody knows this better than South Africa’s established artists.

Probably the most provocative campaign from Absa is a series of acrylic paints made from the actual blood, sweat and tears of three renowned local artists, namely Diane Victor, Bambo Sibiya and Willem Boshoff to promote the 29th edition of the Absa L’Atelier art competition. Samples have been taken from the artists, processed and cleaned by Lancet Laboratories to ensure they are free of biohazardous material and then included in the corresponding paint colour.

The core idea behind the campaign is that producing great art is not something that just happens. It’s a process that sees the artist putting everything they have into their work, putting pieces of themselves into their work, through the intense effort, dedication and raw emotion that it takes to bring a concept to life. If young, emerging and aspiring artists – the competition’s primary target audience – put all this into their work, they too will prosper.

This message has been distilled into the three elements that every artist has metaphorically sacrificed so their creative ideas might see the light of day: their blood, their sweat and their tears. A strong visual reference has been assigned to each of these features – red (blood), yellow (sweat) and blue (tears) primary colours when mixed together can make up any colour. The whole process of creating the paint was made by hand only from the best ingredients – and together with the individual words form a powerful basis for the campaign creative.

The paint element will be supported by highly visual ‘blood, sweat and tears’ posters; customised direct mailers (comprising paint packs) to a number of leading galleries and university/Art Institutions to encourage the participation of the artists they educate and represent. Videos depicting how the blood, sweat and tear samples were taken and processed to make the paint, and the individual stories of the artists, can be accessed via and the Absa YouTube Channel. The campaign posters will have QR codes driving online traffic to the Absa L’Atelier web address ( and will showcase the individual artists’ stories.

Absa realises the value of blood beyond its significance in the creative process, and is aware of the demand for blood in South Africa. It’s for this reason that it has long had a partnership with the SA National Blood Service (SANBS), and regularly hosts blood drives at its head office and other selected regional offices. In the last quarter of 2013, Absa will embark on a major internal campaign to actively increase blood donations among staff.

A significant change to this year’s Absa L’Atelier art competition is the entry mechanic. For the first time, only online entries logged via will be accepted. This means there will be no more paper-based entries. Artists are encouraged to enter online and for those who do not have access to the internet, provision will be made at the collection points.

Since entries only open on January 2, 2014, Absa has launched an online lead form where interested members of the public and prospective entrants can submit their details to get competition updates, entry details, advice on what constitutes great art and all the news about the groundbreaking blood, sweat and tears campaign.

The Absa L’Atelier Art Competition, in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), is rated as the longest-running and most influential art contest on the continent. It pays homage to both established and emerging young local artists and their compelling artistic vision.