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Art Exhibition - Mandel at 90

An art exhibition initiated by Justice Albie Sachs commemorating Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday is at Johannesburg’s Constitutional Court

The celebratory work pays tribute to arguably the greatest Statesman in the world; a man recognized as a prophet in his own country.

Curator Natalie Knight said the venue is iRonic. Nelson Mandela, imprisoned in Cell Number 4 adjoining the Court for 2 weeks in December 1956, awaited his famed Treason trial: And the 11 Constitutional Court judges have all been part of the apartheid resistance movement in one way or another.

This is the first time that an exhibition has been mounted in the foyer of the Court, proving to be a very challenging space. The main wall consists of a series of curves not usually conducive to the display of art works.  The result, a Technicolor pageant of Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” with works created by husband and wife team Billy and Jane Makhubele, begins with the story of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, and using safety pins and beads the artists trace the rise of Umkonte Wesizwe, the fight for Democracy, Mandela casting his first vote, his marriage to Graca Machel and other highlights of his personal and political life.

In other works, Beverley Price presents a contemporary replica of the beaded Xhosa neckpiece worn by Nelson Mandela during his sentencing. This consists of concentric circles of tiny foiled images of Mandela’s life, chain-mailed into forming a neck/shoulder adornment.

Roy Ndinisa’s famed 1993 The Black President painting and his carved Just Free My People (2008) woodcut expresses his deep involvement with Mandela and his ideals.

Carvings out of tree trunks express JoHannes Maswanganyi’s tributes and conceptual pieces made from Rooibos tea bags resin and newspaper clipping titled Towards Mandela by artist Susan Woolf are on show.

Curator Natalie Knight worked in association with Artworks Committee of the Constitutional Court, in particular with Jane Lane (Constitutional Court collections’ permanent art curator.)

Sachs’s brief was for Knight to assemble an exhibition with wide appeal to people, many who many never have been inside an art gallery.  Additionally selected works have been introduced which will keep serious art lovers pondering, such as Woolf’s conceptual Ubuntu presentation, which while fascinating is probably accessible only to the cognoscenti.

The exhibition runs for the month of July, during which time individual walkabout lectures will be held wherein the art works will be discussed. They will be given by Justice Albie Sachs, Jane Lane, Natalie Knight and Susan Woolf respectively.  Group tours can also be arranged.  


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