An unusual art exhibition has opened its doors in the heart of Johannesburg with a series of paintings in lipstick. The Pulse of the City in vibrant Braamfontein gallery, Velo has been made possible by Land Rover South Africa and features unusual works from Dr Sarah Britten.

Land Rover Johannesburg Art

Land Rover’s global Pulse of the City campaign was launched in December 2010 and involves four South African “City Shapers” including Britten. By allocating colours to the cities, the campaign supported edgy urban living through Land Rover’s products, championing the world’s greatest cities along the way.

“I was very lucky that the colour allocated to Johannesburg was bright pink. If we had been given green, like Sao Paulo, or blue, like Sydney, none of this art would exist,” says Britten. “The campaign and my involvement in helping to launch Range Rover Evoque literally inspired the artwork that is on display this month.”

Britten started painting with lipstick in 2002, but it remained an unusual hobby. She immigrated to Australia only to return a year later to Johannesburg. A complete change in lifestyle inspired a new vision on life, one that includes supporting exploited girls in Hillbrow.Britten donates 10% of her earnings from the sale of her city art to Home of Hope, an NGO that helps exploited girls in Hillbrow and surrounding areas.

“My art is not just about the city, it’s also about my relationship with Johannesburg. A love triangle between me, my city and my car, as I often like to put it,” explains Britten. “A simple Cityscape for Land Rover as thanks for my involvement as a City Shaper has led to all the others on exhibit this month. It would never have occurred to me to attempt a cityscape in lipstick of all things if it hadn’t been for the campaign,” she says.

While others have used lipstick as a medium before, Britten remains unique in using the cosmetic in this way. Some 34 of her intriguing works are being exhibited in the heart of the city that inspired them. “It’s the perfect setting for art inspired by a gritty city that pulsates with energy,” she says.

“The City Shapers concept has been a phenomenal success for Land Rover,” says Roland Reid, Marketing Director for Jaguar Land Rover South Africa. “We’re privileged to already have a Sarah Britten cityscape on our office walls. This really has been a unique way for a brand to collaborate with an artist in the production of content.”

Works on display include “Johannesburg Storm”, Britten’s’ favourite of the cityscapes and “Red Bull”, which depicts the diverse nature of the city of gold by combining Johannesburg’s skyline with an Nguni bull. A darker shade of pink, “Red Light District” is another example of Britten’s unusual style, inspired by Zoo City, the novel by Lauren Beukes. There are also two specific Range Rover interpretations, inspired directly by social media content from enthusiasts. All the proceeds from these two works will go directly to Home of Hope.

The Pulse of the City exhibition is on from 2 to 28 July at Velo in Braamfontein (85 Juta Street, Braamfontein, corner Melle). The gallery is open 7am to 4pm weekdays and 9am to 3pm Saturdays.