Hilton Arts Festival puts focus on Mandela


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In Nelson Mandela’s centenary year, the Hilton Arts Festival will have a special Madiba focus artistically affirming the attributes he personified.

From artwork to theatre, blankets to installations and massive public art sculptures – the Hilton Arts Festival will proudly pay tribute to Nelson Mandela at Hilton College from 14-16 September.

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Two massive outdoor exhibitions will take place, the first being the thought-provoking THINK bench encouraging patrons to think differently. Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) commissioned self-taught, sculptor artist Louis Olivier, who regularly works with the renowned William Kentridge, to create a series of artworks that are both functional and attractive. The massive structure spans 14m and is one of a series of Benches which adorn public places in this large-scale project that has been underway for some years.


The TOLERANCE Artwork on display at the Hilton Arts Festival
The TOLERANCE Artwork on display at the Hilton Arts Festival

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.  RMB THINK Bench spells ‘THINK’ from one side and from another appears to be life-size figures interacting at different angles.


The second will be based outside the 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 artwork 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.”

Looking to the Future from John Meyer’s artwork series, Mandela A Life’s Journey
Looking to the Future from John Meyer’s artwork series, Mandela A Life’s Journey

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 Gallery, for members of the public to appreciate. The sixteen 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 wonderful participative initiative, 67 Blankets for Mandela. The ‘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 have recently broken 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 Nelson Mandela, pianist, composer, arranger Burton Naidoo has transcribed some of Mandela’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 complement the performance.

Written for solo piano and track, the audience can expect 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. Prolific composer Burton Naidoo has performed throughout the world and continues to push the boundaries of his musical imagination. This concert is scheduled for Saturday 15 September at 14h00.

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.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All details on www.hiltonfestival.co.za and enquiries on 033 383 0127. The full programme is available on 12 August in The Sunday Times and on the festival website. Bookings open online on 13 August.

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