Leopard Frog appreciates art, particularly indigenous art. Our Limited Release wines feature an award-winning commission by a renown Coast Salish artist while our Private Release wines feature commissions by well known black South African artists. All art is sourced from the winemaker’s private collection.
One of South Africa’s foremost artists, Velaphi Mzimba creates original works of art that embody the grace and quiet confidence that so often resonates throughout the new South Africa. Velaphi was born in Dube, Soweto, as the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Mzimba. He has three sisters.
Velaphi has been guided by various teachers and artists over the course of his career. Robert Rauschenberg was an early mentor. Dan Rakgoathe was an important influence when Velaphi studied at the Mofolo Art Centre in Soweto. Bill Ainslie was another influential teacher when Velaphi studied at the Johannesburg Art Foundation.
Velaphi interprets portraits, still life, figures, abstracts, street scenes and township life through his own unique and iconic style. His later work has concentrated on giant panels of still life fruits and vegetables as well as giant African ethnic heads that have become trademarks of his craft.
His work captures his optimistic personality. Velaphi was deeply involved in the struggle for liberation from Apartheid. Through is art, he demonstrates the unity that is possible in South Africa.
‘What I want to put across is a message of hope and unity in our society through my art, which I believe is possible.’
Velaphi has exhibited his works extensively, including shows in the United States, Canada, Germany, England and Ireland as well as numerous exhibitions in South Africa. His works are represented in major private and public collections nationally and internationally, including collections in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Velaphi’s painting ‘Sawubona’ was presented by President Nelson Mandela to the Rockefeller Foundation on his visit to the United States.
In addition to painting, Velaphi is an influential contributor to the development of young South African artists. In 1985 Velaphi taught at the Thusong Youth Centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Since 1986 he has taught at the Open School in Johannesburg.
The following works of art by Velaphi Mzimba drawn from the winemaker’s private collection are featured as labels on Leopard Frog’s private release wines:
Midnight Maasai, 1999
Velaphi’s provocative painting of a Maasai warrior celebrates the importance of culture and community to our identity. It evokes the early Adam and recognizes the pivotal role that our fathers and grandfathers play in our upbringing as well as the enduring importance of the family and its traditions in our lives.
The Midnight Maasai Shiraz 2002 honours past, present and future generations of men. It is a once-off offering with an external intensity balanced by a tender core just like many of the men in our lives. It is the quintessential expression of man in wine.
Aphrodite Africa, 2007
Velaphi’s emotive painting of a richly adorned Samburu maiden celebrates the importance of culture and community to our identity. It evokes the early Eve and recognizes the pivotal role that our mothers and grandmothers play in our upbringing as well as the enduring importance of the family and its traditions in our lives.
The Aphrodite Africa Cabernet Franc 2004 honours past, present and future generations of women. It is a once-off offering with a rich and rewarding personality as complex and compelling as the women in our lives. It is the quintessential expression of woman in wine.
Velaphi’s evocative painting of an elderly African woman captures the mood of many women in Africa and the world who have lived their lives in quiet sacrifice and service to their families and communities.
The Diva Pinot Noir 2010 is a once-off offering that celebrates the often unheralded contribution of women to our society. Like many mature women, it has a distinct character and divine personality reached after many years of maturation and growth. It is the quintessential expression of grace in wine.
Velaphi’s iconic painting of a young South African man captures the intensity of youth, particularly youth with ambitions frustrated by Apartheid. The painting uses tin, board and a dilapidated segregation sign recovered from an old train station to frame the image in powerful recognition of the injustice of the Pass Laws, one of the cornerstones of South Africa’s Apartheid system.
The Sharpeville Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is a once-off offering that honours the men and women who gave their lives to protest the Pass Laws and accelerate the end of Apartheid. As embodied through the choice of the painting to adorn the wine, it pays particular homage to the young men and women who sacrificed their future dreams, families and lives to build a better future for all their brothers and sisters. It is a valiant wine that reflects the valiance of the Sharpeville souls.
One of Canada’s foremost Coast Salish artists, Jody Wilson creates original works of art that embody the harmony and peaceful co-existence of humanity with nature that resonates throughout Coast Salish culture.
Jody was born and raised in Ladner, British Columbia, a historically small town situated on the banks of the Fraser River on the outskirts of Vancouver. Originally a fishing and farming community, the rivers and surrounding coastal waters of Ladner provide much of the inspiration and subject matter for Jody’s indigenous art.
At 15 years of age, Jody studied under renown First Nations artists and acquired craftmaking skills in Coast Salish and Haida art. After 22 years of working with wood and 10 years of producing limited edition prints, Jody began crafting gold and silver jewellery.
Jody’s work was introduced to the Vancouver Museum in 1984. Since then it has been distributed throughout the world with pieces exhibited in the Museum of Art in New York, the Commonwealth Institute in London, England, and various art galleries in British Columbia, Alberta and Alaska. He has also completed private commissions in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Germany, the United States and Canada.
An interpretation of an original work of art by Jody Wilson commissioned for the winemaker’s private collection is featured on every label of Leopard Frog’s wines and serves as Leopard Frog’s ambassador:
Leopard Frog, 2005
In the forests of the westcoast of British Columbia stands the mighty Yellow Cedar that has been the traditional wood used for carving by Coast Salish artists since the advent of time. For centuries, Yellow Cedar has been carved to reveal the secrets of the Spirits and animals of the westcoast of British Columbia. In 2005, Jody Wilson created the iconic Leopard Frog Yellow Cedar work of art which features the frog surrounded by the hummingbird, killer whale, bear and eagle.
In First Nations culture, the frog often symbolizes the ideal integration of earth and water in nature. The frog is also a traditional messenger of wealth and good fortune. The hummingbird is a symbol of love, beauty and intelligence as well as a Spirit messenger. The killer whale often represents the traveler and guardian and is a symbol of good. The bear represents strength, learned humility, motherhood and teaching. The eagle defines strength, leadership and prestige.
Jody’s iconic interpretation of these Coast Salish cultural emblems proudly reflects the finest traditions of the Bate family as embodied in Leopard Frog’s wines. Extending its role as nature’s ambassador, the frog symbolizes the ideal integration of terroir and cépage in every bottle of Leopard Frog’s wines. Supported by the hummingbird, killer whale, bear and eagle, the frog also continues its role as an emissary of wealth by heralding the abundance of significant sensations unfolding in Leopard Frog’s wines.
Jody’s artistic accomplishment was recognized in 2008 when Leopard Frog was selected as the best wine label range in South Africa in a national competition between labels from all of South Africa’s wine producers.