In 1989, Michaletos conceived the idea of ‘Precious Circle’. This was in direct contrast to the ‘vicious circle’, which was unfolding in South Africa at that stage. On a daily basis and over a long period of time, it seemed as though only negative events were being portrayed in the South African press. Intrinsic to her nature, is to try and discover and salvage the positive aspects from even the most somber scenarios. After days of deep thought and introspection, she decided to make the ‘enemy’ her ‘friend’! From then on, instead of criticizing what she read in the Press, or allowing it to influence her psyche, she would take responsibility for what she focused on as well as the content of her thoughts. Her philosophy was that her ‘new’, positive thoughts would influence her actions and following that, her actions would influence society. This idea, multiplied, could change a complete society as we know it! She became even more passionate and energized as she realized the tremendous and far- reaching potential of ‘Precious Circle’.
Every single day, she made clippings of the positive headlines reflected in South African newspapers and magazines. The words were eventually sorted into different categories. Aesthetic collages where then created from the clippings, each portraying a different inspirational theme, such as happiness, winning, beauty, success, dreams, religion, moral values, peace and hope.
When Michaletos started the project, events were unpredictable, and the scenario was changing so rapidly, that no one knew with certainty, what the future would eventually hold. At this stage, Nelson Mandela was still in jail.
Although she had no idea where the project was leading to, she had absolute faith in its power to transform and attract, as she was gradually becoming aware of unexpected and increased ‘blessings’ that were manifesting in her life. One such ‘blessing’ was an invitation to present a retrospective exhibition at Schloss Ettlingen, in Germany, 1991. (At that stage, such an opportunity was only a pipe–dream for even the most well-known S.A. artists.) She was developing an uncanny conviction that by performing her daily ritual, she was ‘magnetizing’ herself in a positive way.
‘Precious Circle’ became her personal contribution to finding sparks of hope, by literally ‘reading between the lines’. She was totally committed to perform her daily task until she received a definite ‘sign’ to end it. Every day, with painstaking attention to detail, sheer perseverance and almost superhuman effort and discipline, she continued her quest.
Sometimes, out of sheer desperation, she would take a negative word such as ‘unhappy’ or ‘unlucky’, cut off the ‘un’ and triumphantly preserve the ‘happy’ and ‘lucky’!
Concentrating on the positive and optimistic in a time such as this, was like a continuous prayer or meditation. During a crucial time in South African history, ‘Precious Circle’ documented the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a whole society caught up in a process of inevitable change. Although ‘Precious Circle’ has a timeless and universal message, it is vital to contemporary history. Its power lies in its simplicity.
A strong sense of colour and balance marks each of the thought provoking collages of which the end result reminds one of a carefully constructed puzzle, where the smaller parts fit together perfectly.
The events of May 10, 1994 (the day Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as President), was ‘the sign’ she was waiting for! Miraculously, the newspapers of May 10 and 11 reflected and contained all the positive words she had been searching for, for the past 6 years! At last, the ‘Circle’ had completed itself, resulting in 50 collages, spanning a monumental 22 metres.
During June and July of 1994, she held an unusual dual exhibit at the Pretoria Art Museum. The one part consisted of ‘Precious Circle’, and the 2nd exhibit was titled: ’Drawing Attention to Transformation and Regeneration’. The latter consisted of a series of drawings and watercolours reflecting the internal and external process of change experienced by every South African. ’Rebirth’ was included in this remarkable series. It symbolizes the opposing forces, which are reconciled in Nelson Mandela.
A museum official coaxed her into entering a competition for the ‘United Nations Art and Philatelic Award’. Because Pres. Mandela was appointed as the final judge, she wanted to withdraw ‘Rebirth’. However, she was requested to include it in the 4 pieces that were submitted. She had mixed feelings when she was eventually informed that ’Rebirth’ was the overall winning piece.
However, Pres. Mandela had developed a serious eye condition on the day of the final judging and he had requested that Prof Jakes Gerwell take care of the judging on his behalf. Prof Gerwell then, after having studied all the entries, exclaimed: ‘In my opinion, this is the winning work!’ She was miraculously propelled into joining the ranks of Dali, Chagall, Miro, Warhol and Vasarely & Rauchenberg (some of the previous contributors) and she realized that it was out of her hands and that what had transpired, was indeed miraculous!
From this experience she has learned that ‘luck’ is: when being prepared, meets with opportunity.
Provenance of ‘PRECIOUS CIRCLE’
2014 till the end of July, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
2013 November 5, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
2002-2013 Aleta Michaletos Gallery
2002 ’POINT OF CHOICE’ solo University of Pretoria
1999-2002 Aleta Michaletos Gallery
1999 IDHASA (Pretoria) Exhibited during the Truth & Reconciliation Hearings
1998 IDHASA (Pretoria) Exhibited during the Truth & Reconciliation Hearings
1995-1989 Aleta Michaletos Gallery
1995 Gallerie La Villette, Paris, France
1994 ‘DRAWING ATTENTION TO TRANSFORMATION & REGENERATION’ solo Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
1994 10-11May Process ends miraculously, with the inauguration of Nelson Mandela
1989 Process of collection started (Nelson Mandela still in jail)