The Legacy Exhibition combines art works that inspire hope and a rising legacy with origins from the heart of Nelson Mandela’s story and Robben Island. This artwork is by Nadia Thaele. Photos: Supplied
Cape Town – A collaborative exhibition celebrating Nelson Mandela Day aims to inspire hope on what would have been his 101st birthday.

The Legacy Exhibition combines artwork with origins from the heart of Mandela’s story and Robben Island. The common thread in the exhibits is the original fence that once surrounded the maximum security prison compound on Robben Island.

The fence is now worn as jewellery and its dust, rust and off cuts incorporated into canvas artworks and inspirational portraits.

The Legacy Exhibition was born through the meeting of two South African women, Charmaine Taylor and Nadia Thaele. Through their journey they came across upcoming artist Themba Mkhangeli, 24, whose works speak of the struggles of many South Africans.

Born and raised in South Africa, Taylor witnessed the cruelty of apartheid as a child and saw the transformation of the country and release of Mandela.

She was granted the right to design artwork and have exclusive rights to create jewellery with the Robben Island fence in 2013 and formed Legacy Collection. Each piece is named in honour of the road to democracy and gets a unique serial number and certificate of authenticity.

Her jewellery has been worn by global A-listers and formed part of international exhibitions, including at the Nobel Peace Centre in September 2018.

Themba Mkhangeli with his artwork. Photo: Supplied

Thaele is a businesswoman and “artivist”. Born to well-known South African/German artist Christel Read, her artworks are a reflection of her spirit and life’s experiences of a complex and beautiful Africa.

Meanwhile Mkhangeli grew up in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, in a small village called Julukuqu.

He is an aspiring self-taught ballpoint pen artist who focuses mostly on capturing the human form, particularly in portraits.

He started doing art at the age of five but realised his talents in Grade 6 while doing school projects.

An artwork by Themba Mkhangeli. Photo: Supplied

In Mkhangeli’s eyes, a masterpiece is not complete unless it signifies the beauty of nature and embodies elements of his childhood, which are craziness, struggle and the power of black people.

“The struggle is the strongest memory of my childhood that has helped shape my art work,” Mkhangeli said.

Mkhangeli believes art is life and his portraits capture the complexity and fluidity of the human form. His works are fast being recognised in the art world and his dream is to have his own art studio and gallery, and to serve as a mentor to young people, particularly the disadvantaged.

The opening night is by invitation only, however, the exhibition will be on from July 18 until August 18 at Canterbury Studios, 35 Wesley Street, Unit 10.

Nadia Thaele (right) with Charmaine Taylor. Photo: Supplied