The iconic sculpture of Nelson Mandela officially unveiled on Saturday outside Howick, would be a major tourist attraction and would also serve as a catalyst and a major element of the proposed development at the site.
This is according to Christopher Till, the director of the Apartheid Museum, who added that the sculpture was an example of how the introduction of art into an environment of history and heritage can be a powerful force.
Plans are afoot to establish a museum, a multi-purpose theatre and amphitheatre, tourism and supporting educational and cultural facilities at the site.
The sculpture, made from 50 vertical steel columns of between 6.5 to 9.5m in height, was officially unveiled by President Jacob Zuma on Saturday.
Viewed from one side, about 35m away, the columns are aligned to reveal an image of Mandela looking west.
The sculpture – commissioned in 2007 – is structurally suggestive of Mandela’s imprisonment, said Till.
He said when the sculpture was viewed from the side of the design, the arrangements of the steel columns created a “moment of fracture and release”.
The meditative image of Mandela was achieved by interpreting composites of several portraits of Mandela which were sourced from the internet.
“The 50 columns represent the 50 years since his capture, but they also suggest the idea of many making the whole; of solidarity,” said Marco Cianfanelli, the artist responsible for the sculptural artwork.
He said the sculpture also points out “an irony as the political act of Mandela’s imprisonment cemented his status as an icon of struggle, which helped ferment the groundswell of resistance, solidarity and uprising, bringing about political change and democracy”.
Cianfanelli said the work of art shifts visually throughout the day as it is affected by the changing light and atmosphere behind and around it.