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AN IMMERSIVE ART EXPERIENCE WITH ARTIST ESTHER MAHLANGU AND BELVEDERE (RED)

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AN IMMERSIVE ART EXPERIENCE WITH ARTIST ESTHER MAHLANGU AND BELVEDERE (RED)

Last week, I was invited to the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square to experience a once in a lifetime, a creative intimate evening with no other than the notable African artist, Easter Mahlangu, in collaboration with the RED charity and Belvedere Vodka brand.

Upon arriving I was pleasantly greeted by the Belvedere ambassador, a striking gentleman in a dapper suit. He then escorted guests into the main hall, as I entered the gallery, there she was.

Esther Mahlangu wearing her breath-taking traditional Ndebele South African attire.

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Esther has been painting traditional works of art since the tender age of 10 years old, in her long career she has collaborated with some amazing brands, those that have a good cause behind them for charities. This time, Esther has collaborated with Belvedere designing a limited edition bottle featuring hand painted symbols carrying messages of the plight of her country to a global audience with profits going to RED Bono’s organisation working to eradicating HIV/AIDS in Africa.

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During our intimate evening, we discover that Esther has lost her loved ones to the disease so her partnering with Belvedere and (RED) almost came about naturally. Over the past 4 weeks she has been in America with the luxury vodka brand in promotion of the Make A Difference campaign and event with iconic music artist and campaign ambassador, John Legend, Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o, Estelle, Shaun Ross and Ashley Graham as well as DJ Hannah Bronfman, hosted at one of the world’s most famous cultural landmarks, the Apollo Theatre, which was turned Red to mark the occasion.

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The main hall had inspiring displays of mini Ndebele traditional dress draped on Belvedere bottle, which did add to the customary ambience of the room.

(RED) has been fighting AIDS in Africa for over 10 years. Bono and Bobby Shriver founded the RED charity to engage people and businesses in the fight against AIDS in 2006. As well as their 5-year partnership with Belvedere. (RED) also has partnered up with brands such as Converse, Beats by Dre, MCM, Starbucks, The Coca-Cola Company, and Salesforce. In the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria they have generated $350 million globally in which 100% of the money raised go directly to help individuals inflicted by the diseases and providing people with treatment, prevention, HIV testing, care services and counselling.

“Art is my life…painting is in my heart and in my blood. You can be Sotho, Zulu, English or French; blood is one colour (RED). We can overcome anything when we take it hand-by-hand, together we can end this.” – Esther Mahlangu

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Cushions were placed on the floor with traditional cloth canvases, paint pallets a small cup of water and chicken feathers.

Here we all had the opportunity to get our get our creative juices flowing, putting feather to paint our very own African inspired art pieces which were later judged by Esther afterwards.

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As Esther walked around looking at our efforts to create our visions of traditional art she then looked up and said, “All these works are beautiful”.

Slightly nervous, I looked over to the table where Esther had been sitting earlier and I noticed that drinks were being served, to my delight.

 

“Belvedere Spritz” (RED)

1.5oz / 45ml Belvedere Vodka,

1oz/ 30ml bitter aperitif,

2 Orange wedges & a sprig of rosemary.

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A slightly bitter taste to it, the richness of the orange wedges does push through the more you sip and the rosemary added a hint of mint to the overall taste.

Belvedere in my system I’m feeling fine.

Guests were then escorted over to the M Restaurant for the second half of the evening, where we were got the opportunity to dine and get to know the Belvedere brand on a one to one level and familiarise ourselves with the amazing people behind the campaign and brand.

Canapés which were then proceeded by rounds of fine cut steaks on a platter, the texture tender, the taste rich with slightly smoked edges.

Guests were given a brief tour of the restaurant, all very impressive. I have dined at M Restaurant (Threadneedle Street) before and I noticed that the theme of the chain is consistent and the staffs are wonderful, each time I have been to M Restaurant I have experienced the most astounding customer service.

As I was about to leave the owner said that I must stay for dessert and indeed I did.

Two dishes came, a very soft and light textured mouse, which was to my amazement full of flavour. The second which was also a mouse, thick but smooth, topped with crumbs soft, crispy, and ever so sweet.

On my way home reminiscing of the evening that I have just had. I couldn’t help smile as it was truly a once in a lifetime experience

Art, Vodka, Steak, Dessert truly a night to remember.

Thom Leon Carver




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