Nando’s is known for its tasty flame-grilled peri-peri chicken and its equally spicy advertising campaigns. But the brand is also a champion of local creativity. Since 2001, Nando’s has been showcasing original Southern African art in its restaurants globally, and with more than 21,000 pieces of art in its collection, it’s the largest collector of Southern African contemporary art in the world.

“We started our art programmes first, aimed at nurturing and showcasing the work of Southern African artists, and we’ve now grown our efforts into design and music too,” says Kirsty Niehaus, who heads up the Nando’s Art Initiative. “In terms of visual arts, we support more than 350 artists on a regular basis through five different artist development programmes, in partnership with Spier Arts Trust, a respected art consultancy in Cape Town. The artworks in our collection are showcased in more than 1,200 Nando’s restaurants in 24 countries worldwide. Next time you visit a Nando’s restaurant, take a look at the art.”

Niehaus says Nando’s believes in art because it tells a powerful story. “Nando’s started in South Africa. The artworks by Southern African artists that are showcased in our restaurants around the world tell stories of our history and culture. Southern Africa is the heartbeat of our soul.”

Beyond that, art creates opportunities. The artists who take part in the Nando’s career development programmes earn regular income through the artworks the company buys from them while growing their careers as professional artists.

Nando’s also runs design and music programmes, including the Nando’s Hot Young Designer Talent Search and the Nando’s Music Exchange, among others. But the jewel in the crown is the annual creative festival that Nando’s sponsors, hosted by Constitution Hill – Basha Uhuru. Here, creatives across disciplines come together to learn, collaborate, share their knowledge and express their talents.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 event is happening later in the year, and will be predominantly online. “It’s very exciting,” says Niehaus. “We’re partnering with some major creative players and brands to do something different and extend our Basha Uhuru creative collisions in completely new ways. We’re launching at the end of June, so keep an eye on the Nando’s Creativity blog for the announcements.”

Nando’s Creative Exchange

Nando’s works with Spier Arts Trust to support five different artist development programmes, one of which is the Nando’s Creative Exchange. This programme was first established in 2011 to recognise emerging South African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability.

The four artists selected for the 2019 edition enjoyed the opportunity to take part in an exhibition sponsored by Nando’s, including everything from mentorship opportunities to art materials and a media launch. The four artists selected were Wonder Marthinus, Robyn Pretorius, Thembalethu Mangunyana and Adolf Tega.

After the opening of the 2019 Creative Exchange exhibition, Pretorius was approached by Worldart to present her portfolio and discuss gallery representation. She also sold four of her artworks being exhibited and has recently taken part in a digital exhibition at Worldart, titled AEROSOL, showcasing the works of artists who use spray paint to create their work. 


Rising star

Born in Belhar, in the Cape Flats, Pretorius believes that we can build stronger connections by celebrating the diversity of human experience.

The artworks in our collection are showcased in more than 1,200 Nando’s restaurants in 24 countries around the world.

Her painting process combines traditional form and storytelling with photorealist portraiture, conveying a celebration of identity and culture. Her aim is to evoke a more inclusive representation of South African people and the environmental influences that helped shape them.

“My art is inspired by the stories of people I’ve met or feel connected to, and the communities I relate to,” she says. “I want to communicate people’s stories and what makes us African.”

She also tells stories of her community through her work. “Today, poverty, gang-affiliated crimes, alcohol and drug use have crippled a once vibrant community. Our marginalised communities are a result of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, which left our people psycho-socially displaced. It meant that the dissemination and access to resources such as art, education, work and social services, were organised according to racial and class lines that still exist today. My collection for Creative Exchange was aimed at breaking down stereotypes and presenting an authentic, unique culture that is filled with pride and excellence.” 

Creativity in tough times

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the globe and South Africa implemented lockdown measures, people realised again that it’s creativity that makes us human, that gives us hope, that keeps us inspired amidst challenges that might otherwise overwhelm us.

Pretorius says creativity helps her to make it through tough times. “Creativity is such a huge and personal part of who I am,” she says. “It’s a way of thinking that allows everyone to turn an idea into something tangible and eventually shared. Readjusting to a new routine and creative processes was uncomfortable at first but practicing mindfulness and doing regular exercises created the balance I needed between self-care and creating art.”

The artworks by Southern African artists that are showcased in our restaurants around the world tell stories of our history and culture.

She says her art practice gives her the emotional outlet she needs when she feels frustrated. “It creates a pause to separate myself from what’s a happening around the world during this pandemic,” she says. “When I am in a creative process, I’m compelled to focus on what I’m creating and why I’m creating it. I am grateful for having the ability to allow my creativity to take me on a journey while staying indoors.”

Her message to other Afropolitans in these challenges times is: “Use this time to reflect, evolve and continue creating – every act of kindness and compassion delivers hope to others but it starts with being kind to yourself. Stay safe and hold onto knowing that you are not alone."