Madiba focus at Hilton Arts Festival

This massive Mandela work. made up of crochetted blankets, was unveiled at Zonderwater Prison outside Cullinan in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s centenary. Picture by John Hogg.


IN HONOUR  of Nelson Mandela’s centenary year, the Hilton Arts Festival in September will have a special Madiba focus – from art work to theatre, blankets to installations and massive public art sculptures – when the event runs at various venues in the Hilton College grounds from September 14 to 16.

Two massive outdoor exhibitions have been arranged, the first being the thought-provoking “Think” bench, encouraging patrons to think differently. Rand Merchant Bank commissioned self-taught sculptor and artist Louis Olivier, who regularly works with the renowned William Kentridge, to create a series of art works that are both functional and attractive. The massive structure, spanning 14m, is one of a series of ‘benches’ which adorn public places – in this large-scale project that has been underway for some years.

Oliver was commissioned by RMB through its art curator, Teresa Lizamore, to create a pair of contemporary bookends inspired by Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. This evolved into the benches – a larger scale version of the book-end concept.

Detail from T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E, a monumental public art sculpture consisting of nine letters in bronze.

The “Think” bench spells ‘THINK’ from one side and from another appears to be life-size figures interacting at different angles.

The second work will be based outside the school’s Chapel: T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E is a monumental public art sculpture consisting of nine letters in bronze.

International artist Guy Ferrer – who is French of Mediterranean origin – created this work as an ode to tolerance, depicting priests, wise men and pilgrims entwined in the letters, which suggests a religion, belief or spirituality. His starting point was a quote by the Dalai Lama: “It is not of importance that one be a believer or not:  what is important is to be tolerant”.

In Buzz Room 3, a collection of John Meyer’s artworks, Mandela: A Life’s Journey, will be on display. The collection of numbered signed prints, owned by Andrew Dunn, is on permanent loan to Hilton College and will be curated, thanks to The Everard Read Gallery and the Tatham Art Gallery, for the public to appreciate. The 16 prints need to be viewed in sequence and follow the story of Madiba’s life.

Making its second appearance at the festival, featuring in Buzz Room 1, is the participative initiative, 67 Blankets for Mandela. This ‘Knitting Revolution for Nelson Mandela’ sparked ‘Knitwits’ from around the globe to contribute and create blankets and scarves for the thousands of less fortunate during winter.

They recently broke the Guinness Book of Records record for the world’s longest scarf, measuring in at over 29 km.

Inspired by the life and character of Mandela, pianist, composer, arranger, Burton Naidoo has transcribed some of Madiba’s most iconic speeches. The concert, entitled Our Song, includes the words of the speeches harmonised in the effort to create a musical backdrop to these important pieces. Burton has also written new compositions to compliment the performance.

Written for solo piano and track, the works audiences can expect include speeches from the Rivonia Trial, praise singing from Sthembile Mlangeni and Zolani Mkhiva at the inauguration, as well as FW De Klerk’s announcement to free Nelson Mandela at Parliament, 1990.

Naidoo has performed throughout the world and continues to push the boundaries of his musical imagination. This concert is scheduled for 2pm on Saturday, September 15.

The festival would not be possible without the generous support of Hilton College, Tiso Black Star, Grindrod Bank, Black Coffee Design, DWR Distribution,  Extreme Events, Bidvest Car Rental,  KZN Dept of Arts & Culture, Redlands Hotel, Assitej South Africa, Loud Crowd, Sappi,  BASA, Corona and Capital Media.

The full festival programme will be available on Sunday, August 12, in The Sunday Times and on the festival website. Bookings open online on August 13.

T.,O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E is a large-scale public art sculpture consisting of nine letters in bronze.

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