african masksIfa Lethu
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Ifa Lethu

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Lost township art returns to SA

Mary Alexander 20 July 2005 found at southafrica.info

ifa lethuLost works by artists living in South Africa's strife-torn townships in the 1970s and 1980s are to return home.

 

Many of the works, chronicling the turbulence of the last two decades of apartheid and unappreciated in their own country, were bought by diplomats and others visiting South Africa.

They found there way to boardrooms and private collections in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

Now, Ifa Lethu - the Homecoming Foundation - is working to bring the artwork back to South Africa. Headed by Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Ifa Lethu already has a substantial collection of township art.

This collection is set to grow after the BHP Billiton Development Trust (BBDT) handed over a R1-million contribution to the foundation this morning.

'Men and women of courage'
At the handover at the BHP Billiton SA headquarters in downtown Johannesburg, company chair Dr Vincent Maphai said art was essential to the growth of a nation.

"Works of art are the soul of the people, their history," he said. "Once they are gone, they are gone forever. This project seeks to reclaim the works of unsung people of the townships in the 1970s and 1980s. These were men and women of courage, who worked under the most difficult circumstances."

ifa lethuThe two-year-old Ifa Lethu project began when Australian diplomat Diane Johnstone, who served in South Africa in the 1970s, donated a historically important collection of South African art to the foundation.

During her time in the country she built strong links with artists working in the apartheid townships. Her aim was to donate the works back to the country once South Africa had gained its freedom - which it did with the first democratic elections in 1994.

Johnstone's donation brought to light the fact that a significant body of similar artwork, produced during the depths of apartheid and of great cultural significance to South Africa, was in foreign collections.

ifa lethu soul'Reconstruction of the soul'
Ramphele, the chair of Circle Capital Ventures and former MD of the World Bank, said the art will help in the process of making South Africans a proud people.

"Our aim is to bring our lost art home, where South Africans can learn from its depictions of township life in the dark days of apartheid," she said.

"This art will help in what Madiba so aptly called the reconstruction and development of the soul. Without art like it, we will always be a wounded, scarred nation."

The Department of Arts and Culture provided R4.5-million over three years to Ifa Lethu, with the proviso that this be matched by private sector contributions. The R1-million from BHP Billiton is the first major contribution of this kind, making the company a platinum -and a founding - patron.

"In business terms, this is what we call a first-entry advantage," joked Maphai.

 

ifa lethu"Works of art are the soul of the people, their history," said BHP Billiton SA chair Dr Vincent Maphai (Image: Ifa Lethu)

'People matter, history matters'
BHP Billiton is recognised internationally for its own art collection. An SA-rooted global mining group, the company has interests in Australia, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, South Africa and elsewhere. BHP Billiton donates 1% of its pre-tax profits to corporate social responsibility projects - some R66-million in the financial year ending in June 2005.

ifa lethu township paintingA township artist's self portrait, produced in 1975 (Image: Ifa Lethu)"

The strong Australian link to this project made the BBDT an obvious first choice for us to approach as a sponsor," said Ramphele. "The company has demonstrated its commitment to creating a positive and conducive environment for business growth in this country.

"With support from business, our project will help build a value system to complement the growth of our economy and society," she said. "Central to this system will be that people matter, that history matters - that South Africans are a proud people."

The Ifa Lethu collection will be housed at the Pretoria Art Museum in Tshwane, from where it will tour art galleries across the country.

 

ifa lethu madibaProphet by E Madiba, 1974 (Image: Ifa Lethu)

 

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In this section:
Start
Omhoog
Modern tribal art
African-textiles
Contemporary art
Monaco-Arts-Africa
African-vibes
Africa screams
Africa-remix
Documenta Madrid
African-words
Shona stone family sculpture
hairstyles - Blaffer gallery
Twins-Seven-Seven
Jean Pigozzi
Miami art museum-Mutu
River Crossing
Fiber-Art
airbrush art gallery
contemporary art
Seydou Keyta
Zanzibar artists
modern african art
museum of modern art
Cape Africa
art fairs list
Ifa Lethu
guggenheim bilbao
zimbabwe stone art
South African paintings
code coverage tool c
African American food
expanding Africa
primitivism revisited
Chapunga sculpture park
fire in the heart
tribal tattoos
south africa gallery
african encounters
architecture of the veil
blood art
Shona stone sculptures
Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
south african art
Contemporary art from Africa
jose vermeersch
Is It Art
Ebay African Art 

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The Tribal Arts of Africa

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read also : Start ] Modern tribal art ] African-textiles ] Contemporary art ] Monaco-Arts-Africa ] African-vibes ] Africa screams ] Africa-remix ] Documenta Madrid ] African-words ] Shona stone family sculpture ] hairstyles - Blaffer gallery ] Twins-Seven-Seven ] Jean Pigozzi ] Miami art museum-Mutu ] River Crossing ] Fiber-Art ] airbrush art gallery ] contemporary art ] Seydou Keyta ] Zanzibar artists ] modern african art ] museum of modern art ] Cape Africa ] art fairs list ] [ Ifa Lethu ] guggenheim bilbao ] zimbabwe stone art ] South African paintings ] code coverage tool c ] African American food ] expanding Africa ] primitivism revisited ] Chapunga sculpture park ] fire in the heart ] tribal tattoos ] south africa gallery ] african encounters ] architecture of the veil ] blood art ] Shona stone sculptures ] Contemporary African Diasporan Arts ] south african art ] Contemporary art from Africa ] jose vermeersch ] Is It Art ] Ebay African Art ]

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