Business Day Live | Penny Haw:
Launched in Alexandra in 2000, when artist and rapper Siphiwe Ngwenya decided to exhibit some of his artwork in his own backyard, the Maboneng Township Arts Experience — which turns township homes into exhibition spaces — has evolved into a fully fledged cultural initiative experienced nationwide, with the addition of permanent township art galleries and art routes, which are open in several townships most days of the week.
Detail of a work by artist Boyce Magandela. Picture: NKANYEZI GALLERY
In fact, so prevalent and successful is the initiative that the Maboneng Township Arts Experience was not only recently included on The New York Times’ list of 52 places to see in 2014, but was also chosen as a an official project of the 2014 Cape Town World Design Capital programme.
The latter has seen the inclusion of the initiative in several projects in Cape Town. Based on good responses to the initiative in Gugulethu and Langa, the Maboneng Township Arts Experience was launched in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay last month. Here the initiative collaborates with the Lalela Project, which uses the arts to interact with youngsters affected by poverty. The Hout Bay launch coincided with the Design Indaba, the Cape Town Art Fair and the Southern Guild Cape Town exhibition. Imizamo Yethu will host its own festival later this year, and there are plans afoot to build a permanent gallery there too.
In another project linked to the Cape Town World Design Capital programme, the Maboneng Township Arts Experience has joined up with the Mother City’s Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel to open a new gallery in the hotel for the duration of this year. The area between the hotel’s Planet Bar and Planet Restaurant will be known as the Nkanyezi Gallery. Here artists from various South African townships will showcase their work in what is the Maboneng Township Arts Experience’s first city-based exhibition.
The hotel’s owner, Orient-Express Hotels, recently unveiled a new $5m branding exercise, in which the name Mount Nelson Hotel was changed to Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. A further $10m is expected to be invested in the new branding over the subsequent four years.
Meaning “star” in isiZulu and isiXhosa, Nkanyezi is an apt name for this gallery, says the GM of the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Xavier Lablaude. It has brought together “the Nellie” and the Maboneng Township Arts Experience in a one-of-a-kind project that empowers and inspires township communities through the arts.
“During this big year for Cape Town, the Nellie wants to support initiatives that fall under the World Cup Design themes of “beautiful spaces, beautiful things”, as well as “bridging the divide”, he says. “By establishing the Nkanyezi Gallery and opening our city-based home to some of our townships’ most talented artists, we can help to exhibit their art to local and international guests who may otherwise never have the opportunity to see their work.”
The artwork exhibited at the Nkanyezi Gallery, which is to be launched on April 24 and will be open to the public every day, is all for sale. Among the artists included in the exhibition is Boyce Magandela, who has exhibited extensively in South Africa and Austria, and was, in 2004, nominated as a top-10 finalist in the ABSA Atelier. He is joined by Gerald Thabatha; Mphathi Gocini; Patrick Holo; Lindile Magunya; and Luthando Lupuwana.
Ngwenya, who is not only founder and director of the Maboneng Township Arts Experience but also head curator of the Nkanyezi Gallery, said: “There’s always been a large cultural gap between the township and the city. We are mending this through the arts with one of the most alternative experiences ever, and the Nkanyezi Gallery is an important part of that.”
Read this and other interesting art-icles via source: http://www.bdlive.co.za/life/entertainment/2014/04/17/township-art-for-mount-nelson