World Aids Day : Art (and vodka) Aid

Have drink for World Aids Day

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Have you ever tried to do a painting with just a feather, mud and a paste of ground leaves? Neither had I until I went to an art workshop with the indomitable Esther Mahlangu, a renowned Ndebele artist from Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Coming from a tribe whose tradition is to decorate their huts in vivid geometric patterns (which people come for miles to see), she was in London last month to promote her new collaboration with Belvedere vodka: a beautifully customised bottle.

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Esther Mahlangu in South Africa

An unlikely combo you would think – an 82-year-old African grandmother and a top brand vodka, but Mahlangu is passionate about the battle against AIDS, having lost six family members – all younger - to the disease. So when John Legend, also involved in the project, approached her about designing the bottle, whose profits go to the Global Fund, she agreed straight away.

Esther Mahlangu's house, South Africa
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To teach us how her paintings are done, she sat on the floor of the South African embassy in Trafalgar Square, bristling with heavy metal bracelets and necklaces, swathed in a blanket-like shawl, making striking geometric patterns on a canvas with just a feather.

It is alot harder than it looks, and if you'd seen mine, you would have been forgiven for thinking a chicken had walked through a paint spill and on to my canvas. So I won't be doing my house like this any time soon.

Ndebele house, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Mahlangu isn't a stranger to corporate sponsored art, having customised a car for BMW in 1991, but the vodka bottle is rather more in our price range.

So, if you want to have a world- changing drink, and earn yourself a collectable piece of art – get yourself a bottle today.

The limited edition bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED, designed by Esther Mahlangu, is available at major Sainsbury's stores and here. For every bottle you give (or keep), Belvedere donates 50% of the profits to theGlobal Fund, the leading financier supporting HIV/AIDs in Africa.

Mahlangu's work can be seen at the British Museum: South Africa – The Art of a Nation until February 20.

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