Hennessy’s annual Very Special Limited Edition series is indeed very special this year. Designed by the legendary graffiti artist, Faith XLVII, this limited edition cognac celebrates the 10th anniversary of this series, where art and fine whisky come together.
Faith XLVII is the first female artist to take part in the series, bringing a unique viewpoint to the collaboration as an artist whose work can be found from the street to the studio.
Through her fascination of alchemy and natural processes, Faith XLVII was drawn to the craftsmanship that goes into Hennessy’s formulations. After visiting Château de Bagnolet, the Maison’s historic seat in Cognac, France, she felt an instant connection to Hennessy’s commitment to the arduous formulation process—a kinship of savoir faire.
Inspired by many elements, Faith XLVII’s earthy design captures the warmth of both the flavour and colours of the formula. The striking fonts echo the appearance of the chalk inscriptions on age-old barrels stored in the Founder’s Cellar.
With moon phases surrounding the sun in a mandala, her design mainly represents the passage of time; a nod to both the generational family aspects of Hennessy and the time-consuming labour this formula demands.
This exploration of nature and the cyclical elements of time marks a new chapter of Faith XLVII’s artistry. Here, the South African artist reveals her creative process and what this special collaboration means to her.
How does it feel to be the first woman to collaborate with Hennessy for the Very Special Limited Edition Series?
“It’s one of those things that is quite important to me in my work—to not just see myself as a female artist, but to allow that to push myself to create work that I’m proud of and that’s representative of the best work I can do. So being on a line up as the first woman is something that isn’t new to me—I’ve experienced it quite a bit—and it’s an honour to take that step and help to balance the equation a bit and bring a bit more feminine thinking and way of being into the world.
Nature is clearly an important aspect of your work—how does creating your art keep you connected to nature?
“My artistic career, or journey I should say, is very much a part of my own process and part of that is being connected to nature. I’m often living in cities and I find that it’s very draining and I have to make sure that I make time to get into natural environments to replenish my energy and remember what’s important. I think that living in harmony with nature is being aware of the food that you eat and where it’s coming from and just having a bit more of a conscious attitude.
“The actions we take with how we treat animals and the environment have a direct impact on us, so it’s quite self-sabotaging the decisions we make. It’s an important theme in my work that comes up often, so when I was approached by Hennessy to create a work with them in mind and I went to visit Cognac in France to see how the process is created.
“I was really inspired by this age-old tradition that has been kept, a tradition that is very conscious of the seasons and the temperatures and the type of wood used in the barrels and how those barrels are made by hand. It’s a process that’s been handed down through generations and it also has a respect for the amount of time that is needed to produce the flavours. I was inspired by that because a lot of modern production and lifestyles are really fast-paced and we don’t take the time to really put effort or thought into things often. So the work really came out of being there.”
Why did you choose to focus on the cycle of nature and the moon’s phases?
“[Hennessy’s] process is really informed by the natural world, seasonal changes and the passage of time and some of my inspirations are also those things. I was looking through references of old manuscripts of alchemical processes where you’re turning base metals into gold, which can be seen from a spiritual perspective, but you can also see that in the process of Hennessy. They’re taking these different ingredients and transmuting them through this process to create the final product. I found that link quite beautiful and looking through the old esoteric images of sundials and planetary illustrations is where I kind of rooted the imagery—like a mandala with the sun in the centre and everything moving around it.”
What are your favourite Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition collaborations from the last 10 years?
“I like Felipe [Pantone’s] because he is such a master and coming in with such a different direction. But I was also at Shepard Fairey’s launch party in Johannesburg—he’s always very good with his design.”
How did moving from Cape Town to Los Angeles change your artistic approach? Has it inspired you in different ways?
“I spent my life in Cape Town, but I have been traveling really extensively since 2006 and spent lengthy amounts of time in different cities. But my work has always been informed by my experiences growing up in South Africa, which really does put you face-to-face with a lot of different social issues. There’s just this collective baggage that everybody is trying to work through and kind of come to a space of dialogue. But when I started staying in different cities and traveling around a lot, I started seeing reflections of these same issues in different forms in different countries and cities. I’m interested in the human condition and I think we’re all facing quite challenging times—there’s a big need for self-reflection. My work—although it is rooted in my experiences in South Africa—it is also speaking on a very personal note to people. Hopefully, it can relate to people from anywhere. So the move has affected me, but at the same time it has helped me to expand.”
You’ve described this collaboration with Hennessy as a new chapter of your creativity—how do you see your work evolving in the future?
“I think what I meant with that is that I have a few different themes that thread through my work overtime. They’re not bodies of work that start here and end here. One of the themes is our connection to nature and the natural world and sustainability. Another is the polarities between masculine and feminine balance, the divine feminine and exploring that within and without. There has been something I’ve been interested in and that’s more about solar energy. Doing the Hennessy project was quite nice because I got to explore that mandala. I have done projects before that relate similarly but I’m interested in exploring it more. This idea of connecting to the planets and to our space in the world and reframing that is something I’m quite interested in.