Artwork 4 the Week

July 2020


Week 17 - A Fight for Harmony

President Nelson Mandela I, 1998

Mike Edwards (b 1938)  



Mike Edwards is a great admirer of the late president Nelson Mandela. During the years in which Mandela was incarcerated, Edwards collected some of his banned publications. On many occasions, the artist proposed ideas to the ANC for sculptures of Mandela, even before his election as President in 1994. However, it was only in 1998, when Edwards could finally realise his sculpture of Mandela, when the South African National Boxing Control Commission commissioned the portrait of President Nelson Mandela I. In this sculpture by Edwards, the words ‘Children Our Future’ are inscribed on the front of the work, showing the love Mandela had for children and the better future he strived to provide children with.

After stepping down as president in 1999, Mandela went to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, a cause Mandela was very fond of. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund was established by Mandela in 1995 where he donated a third of his salary to the cause throughout his term in office. The Fund initially operated to promoting a humanitarian response to react to the immediate needs of South African children with unfortunate conditions. The fund strives to change the way society treats it’s children and youth, by giving them a voice to speak up. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is still active today.  To learn more about this cause, you can visit the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Website at  


Week 16 - A Monument for Madiba

Nelson Mandela II, 2005 (A Maquette)

Mike Edwards (b 1938)  


520mm x 390mm


In 2003 a call was sent out for South African artists to propose a sculpture for “Freedom Monument”. The intention was to erect the monument in Port Elizabeth (also known as Mandela Bay) on the beachfront between the harbour breakwater and King’s Beach. Mike Edwards, a well-known portrait artist designed the Nelson Mandela II maquette with a design team, which included architects, structural and marine engineers, social workers, environmentalists, and museum specialists. For Edwards, this monument proposed “… the possibility of a portrait that could at last be one that could truly be worthwhile both sculpturally and in the wider sense of inspiring positive attitudes in all who would have visited the site.” Edwards furthermore quotes that the pose he chose for Late President Mandela “… with arms outstretched and open hands (a sign of piece […]) is almost one of benediction and was typical of Mandela, especially immediately after his release [from prison] and on many occasions thereafter when addressing the crowds in triumph.” However, while Edwards’ proposal for Freedom Monument was turned down.  A Bronze cast of the Nelson Mandela IImaquette is now part of the University of Pretoria’s Art collection. 


Week 15 - 67 Minutes for Mandela

Nelson Mandela, 2017

Zelda Stroud (b 1964)  


480mm x 340mm


One of the latest art acquisitions by the University of Pretoria is a bronze bust of late president Nelson Mandela, which was created by the Pretoria-based artist Zelda Stroud. The bust represents former President Mandela in a proud and kind manner, as we knew him to be. Mandela was South Africa’s first black head of the state and the first president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Mandela was also a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary hero, a political leader and a philanthropist, who served as the president of South Africa from 1994 until 1999. Mandela, an icon of democracy and social justice, received many awards and honours, including a Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to make South Africa and the world a better place.

This year, everyone has been under more stress and many people have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The UP Museums encourage everyone that can help with a small act of kindness and a gesture of generosity to do so by giving to someone less fortunate. Things to consider doing during the 67 minutes for Mandela Day under lockdown are the following: 

  • Clean out your closets and give to someone in need of warm clothes or shoes.
  • Give a blanket to someone who is cold or buy food for someone who is hungry. 
  • Learn to paint or teach someone about art with the Google Arts & Culture App.

As soon as life is “back to normal” and the UP Museums have re-opened to the public, you can view this beautiful sculpture of late President Nelson Mandela at the Edoardo Villa Museum in the Old Merensky Building on the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield Campus. 


Week 14 - Mandela a symbol for hope

Mandela, 1996

Motshile wa Nthodi (b 1948)  

Woodcut print on paper

270mm x 395mm


Mandela by the artist Mothsile wa Nthodi shows a man reaching for the moon. The artwork represents the late President Nelson Mandela, who changed the future of South Africa significantly, aiming to create a rainbow nation, where all cultures are represented from a previous Apartheid government. Wa Nthodi, a Pretoria-based artist, works with many symbolic elements in his work, for example colour has significant meaning in his work, red represents ancestors, black represents life and yellow represents cosmic elements such as the sun, moon and stars. This workby wa Nthodi, represents President Mandela’s influence of new life and hope to the future of this country. Wa Nthodi is passionate about African art as it represents one’s culture and roots within the stories it depicts. 

Nelson Mandela himself was an artist, who since 2001 decided to make art as a means to share his memories. The artmaking process became therapeutic as Mandela’s past was explored in his works. His works showcased his life in prison, his homeland, his values and his experiences of the environment which surrounded him and his experience of the world. Through art, Mandela also celebrated his heritage. Words such as ‘freedom’, ‘imprisonment’, ‘unity’ and also ‘future’ were depicted in Mandela’s artworks. The UP Museums hope this Mandela Month that you would be inspired to be creative, to tell stories and make art representing this significant country with all its remarkable cultures and heritage and your own story. You can view artworks by Nelson Mandela on the House of Mandela website.


Week 13 - Mandela Month

Mandela, 2017

Claudette Schreuders (b 1973)  

Chine collé lithographe

700mm x 400mm


18 July is former President Nelson Mandela’s birthday and is internationally celebrated as Mandela Day. AsSouth Africans, we are embracing Mandela’s life and legacy for the whole month of July. Since we are facing intersecting struggles and challenges this year, we can reflect on how far we have come as a country thanks to a great leader, who has given 67 years of his life to fight for human rights and the abolition of apartheid. Internationally, Mandela Day encourages people to use 67 minutes of their time in July by doing small acts of kindness for those who are less fortunate. 

UP Museums want to start Mandela Month by showcasing the lithograph Mandela (2017) by Claudette Schreuders. Schreuders is a South African artist, whose work is a reflection of the search for an African identity in a post-apartheid South Africa. The narratives in Schreuders’ works explore African and European identities within a post-apartheid South Africa. Her figures, whether it is her sculpture or prints, are loaded with meaning and emotions that reach beyond cultural boundaries. Schreuders’ works furthermore demonstrate hybrid notions of meaning and form, influenced by Blolo and Colon figures of West Africa and the elements of medieval church sculpture and Spanish portraiture. 


June 2020

Week 12 - The Age of Grace

The Age of Grace, 2003

Anton Smit (1954) and over painting by Dorothea Nortje

Concrete and paint 


You might have encountered Anton Smit’s sculptures around Pretoria, in shopping malls or even in corporate and public parks. The University of Pretoria has a few of Smit’s public sculptures in its collection, including The Age of Grace. This concrete sculpture by Smit was erected on the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield campus in 2003. In 2015, the artist Dorothea Nortje was commissioned by Smit to paint over the first resin coat of the work. Nortje used the theme of the Soweto Student Uprising (16 June 1976), where she made use of photographs of the schoolboy Hector Pietersen, who had been shot and killed in protest of the poor education offered to black school learners during the apartheid regime. The painted feature on the sculpture draws the viewer closer, where one finally sees the painted figures over the bloody red-coloured paint. 


Notably, the University of Pretoria’s The Age of Grace sculpture was created following an exhibition commissioned by the South African Government. In 1994 Smit exhibited 35 sculpture at the Grand Central Station in New York as part of an initiative to strengthen the trade between South Africa and The United States of America, organized by SATOUR in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry. This initiative was represented by former president Nelson Mandela. The Age of Grace, an eight-foot-high bronze sculpture at the Grand Central Station, celebrated South African heritage. The title is referred to by Smit as “The age of grace is the last period of mankind on earth before the Second Coming.” Smit’s large sculptures prominently evoke themes of suffering, reconciliation, glory and sublimation.



Week 11 - Youth Day

Madonna and Child, 1998

Willie Bester (1965 - ) 

Silkscreen print 

505mm x 415mm



Celebrating Youth Day in South Africa today, we are looking at Madonna and Child (1998) by Willie Bester. The work shows a mother, holding her baby with an army vehicle driving towards the viewer and finally spelling out the words “NEVER AGAIN” on the road which the vehicle will be driving. This artwork is a reminder of the Soweto Student Uprising on the 16th of June in 1976, where students protested for fair education in the country, 44 years ago. As a result of many wrongs in the country due to the apartheid government, many people were not able to get an education of value or even any education at all. This COVID-19 pandemic has raised many issues on the availability of fair education for pupils, where many areas and homes do not have access to the internet for online education. Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” and thus, every person should be able to partake in quality learning. 


Willie Bester explores prevalent political and social issues of South Africa in his artworks. These topics prominently feature in the work of the artist, and he was especially passionate about these issues due to his own experiences: he had to leave school at the age of 10 to help his family financially due to the forced removal from their home under the Group Areas Act. As a struggle artist, Bester still makes use of these problems as he addresses the social and political developments in a post-apartheid South Africa within his art making. Bester’s choices of subject matter furthermore include issues of crime, greed, poverty, corruption, government accountability and other contentious subject matters that need to be voiced and documented in the new South Africa. 


Week 10 - Playing

Playing, 1981

Mandla Welcome Koboka (1941 – 1999)

Charcoal and watercolour

789mm x 593mm 


The month of June is a celebration of the youth that shapes South Africa. Youth Month in South Africa is a commemoration of the Soweto Student Uprising that took place the 16th of June in 1976. This year, with the lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic may be especially difficult for the youth to endure, as the lack of social engagement and activities are disconnecting children from playing and participating in their communities. We hope that the return of children to school will motivate and inspire them to learn and grow their full potential. We furthermore hope that all children and learners have access to education during this difficult time. 

This week we explore the work of Welcome Kaboka. Kaboka was a student of the Polly Street Art Centre during the 1950s. Although not well known during his lifetime, he was a pioneer for Modernist art in South Africa. The artist's works documents the daily life of people in townships and cities in South Africa. The work Playing depicts a boy with a toy car and a woman watching him play. The painted strokes made by the artist create a sense of movement and one can feel the freedom and excitement of the boy in this scene. We hope children and learners will soon be as excited as the boy depicted in this artwork, as we progress through the lockdown stages into more freedom.


May 2020


Week 9 - Equality



Collage of Portraits 


In the final week of International Museum Month, the University of Pretoria Museums explore equality and discrimination under the broader IMD 2020 umbrella theme of “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”. In this respect, the UP Museums focus on the aspect of equality and discrimination within a university museum environment. Globally, museums are responsible to create meaningful experiences for people of all backgrounds to overcome the disparities relating to topics of ethnicity, gender, identity, socioeconomic backgrounds, LGBTQI, disabilities, political affiliation and religious beliefs. This week, we do not only include one artwork, but a collage of portraits within the UP Art Collection. Artworks include: Wilma Stockenstrom, "Ek laat my lok deur die nagvoel se fluit II" (2018) by Henk Serfontein, Self Portrait after Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I (2013) by Amita Makan, The surfer (2017) by Justice Mukheli, The boer (1996) by Velaphi Mazimba, Herero Woman (1949) by Bettie Cilliers Barnard, Portrait (1976) by Gregoire Boonzaier, Woman (1960) by Johanna Wassenaar, Chancellor Wiseman Nkulu (2008) by Cyril Coetzee and Boy with bird (1950) by Walter Battiss.


Week 8 - Accessibility and Disability



Have a wonderful Valentine’s day, 1994

Tommy Motswai

Pastel on paper

750mm x 1100mm


This week UP Museums are highlighting accessibility and disabilities within the museum environment for International Museum Month. There has been a sudden incline to include the experience of art to people with disabilities in the past few years. Most people take their senses of vision, hearing and touch for granted, and are spoilt to be able to experience art on various levels. However so many people with disabilities are excluded from the experience of art in general. The UP Museums with the assistance of the University of Pretoria’s Disability Unit have explored various notions to invite people with disabilities into our galleries. Our Museum Interpretive Officer has successfully initiated specialised tours to understand the need to sensory and physically impaired experiences to people with various disabilities. 


In the same manner which we aim to make our Museums accessible to people with disabilities, we also need to celebrate artists with disabilities. Tommy Motswai is a deaf born artist that explores the joy of urban spaces and the noise it represents visually. Although this artwork by Tommy Motswai is a valentine's celebration, it shows the pleasure Motswai finds when people gather. The artists’ works also show subtleties and humor found within the relationship and the changing political and social environment of South Africa. It is this social and multi-curtural environment which the artist loves to explore within his art.


Week 7 - Climate Justice

Before the Storm, 1981

Erik Laubscher (1927-2013)

Acrylic on canvas

910mm x 1180mm


Rising sea levels, severe storms, coastal erosion, hurricanes, heavy rains and extreme fires - are all due to climate change. In accordance with ICOM's International Museum Day (IMD 2020) theme, Climate Justice is a key topic to be discussed in terms of museums responsibilities to protect their art and heritage objects from the impact of climate change. The threat of climate change has accordingly influenced museums to take on risk management measures to protect their objects from various forms of damage. It is also important to generate greater awareness of climate-related issues through interpretation in museums.  


In response to the theme of climate justice, we are looking at the South African painter Erik Laubscher’s work. His mostly abstract paintings explore the South African Landscape as a spiritual experience. The artist makes use of colour,  line, shape and texture to create abstract landscapes to give the audience a sensorial experience of the canvas. In his painting Before the Storm, the landscape appears almost like a melting ice glacier. Although the threat is great, there is almost a sense of calmness in the painting. The artist aims to create intrinsic experiences in his painting to immerse the viewer within his art. The title Before the Storm on its own says much about climate justice and the threat that may come in the world of conservation and preservation. 



Week 6 - Inclusion



Ndebele Village, 1989

Sam Nhlengethwa (1955-) 

Acrylic and paper on canvas 

940mm x 1760mm


International Museum Day (IMD) is annually celebrated on 18 May all over the world. This year we celebrate IMD with the theme of “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”. The UP Museums will be posting weekly topics exploring the IMD 2020 theme for the entire month of May. This week we are exploring the broader theme of digital inclusion within the IMD theme.  Therefore, we are looking at this brightly coloured painting by Sam Nhlengetwa, depicting a traditional Ndebele village with patterning on the village walls, as well as on the clothing of the people. With lockdown, people are going about their own business as usual as seen in this picture.  However, some people may not be able to learn or even access learning online, due to a lack of digital equipment and internet. The UP Museums would like to generate awareness of all the people at home, who have difficulties to access the internet for learning, working and for leisure.


In this regard, we also celebrate the artist Sam Nhlengethwa, who co-founded the Bag Factory Artists’ Studio with David Koloane in Johannesburg in 1991. The aim of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studio was mainly to provide studio space to black artists, who had little access to artistic resources. The Bag Factory Artists’ Studio is still active today.  


April 2020

Week 5 - Cranes

Cranes, 1936

Maggie Laubser (1886-1973)

Oil on canvas on board

560mm x 610mm


The artwork Cranes by Maggie Laubser is such a joyful artwork. The bright colours draw you in an almost fantasy landscape with two cranes located at a pond. The sky seems to be moving and the landscape is almost alive with simple bright colours. The blue crane, which is also the South African national bird, stands almost one metre in height. This species is currently listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Perhaps lockdown will also bring something positive to the crane population, allowing for the bird population to recover. As South Africa goes into Stage Four Lockdown from the first of May, we hope to see some positive outcome in the COVID-19 pandemic. UP Museums hope this wonderful and happy artwork will bring you joy and freedom for a moment, as you may still feel frustrated being confined in your homes.


Week 4 - Yearning for nature 

Wild Fig Tree, 1930

Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957)

Oil on canvas
900mm x 1100mm


The University of Pretoria Museums have a significant collection of artworks by the artist Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef. This week UP Museums are yearning for nature with an artwork inspired by Pierneef. Whilst admiring the landscape painting Wild Fig Tree by Pierneef, we want to celebrate nature and the natural beauty of this country surrounding us on a daily basis. It is not often that Pierneef included people in his paintings because of the love and respect he had for nature. It is the South African landscape and architecture which gives expression to the artist’s artworks. We are now in this current lockdown situation forced into finding a new appreciation for nature and the South African landscape, which we so often take for granted.  

#UPMuseums #nature #StaySafe #Lockdown #HendrikPierneef #Landscape painting



Week 3 - Peace Fountain

Peace Fountain, 1993

Thijs Nel (1943-2020)


The prominent South African artist Thijs Nel was born on the farm “Waterkloof” near Pretoria on 08 June 1943 and he recently passed away on 27 March 2020.

During his career as an artist, he achieved considerable renown as a potter and ceramicist. In 1993 he created a stoneware ceramic fountain, known as “The Peace Fountain”, which was bought by the Felix-trust and donated to the University of Pretoria. Nel erected the fountain next to the Musaion Building on the main Hatfield Campus. The fountain in its totality is created from ceramic materials. However, the work as seen currently is not the original fountain. In 2001 a student damaged the original fountain by trying to climb onto it. The original structure of the fountain was damaged to the degree that it had to be replaced. Nevertheless, the work is made up of four ceramic blocks at the bottom, forming a cross.  This symbolises that Africa came to a crossroad. The first block on top of the cross is a grinding stone, which shows Africa’s early development.  This is topped with another grinding stone, but one with a hole right through. The second grinding stone represents the impact of colonialism. The third level is a broken grinding stone that is inverted back to back.  This indicates the technological advancement of Africa. At the very top an egg is located as a sign of new life with water flowing out of it, signifying living water.


Over the years, the University of Pretoria’s Art Collection acquired seventeen works by Nel through donation and purchase. Of these, there is the one ceramic work (The Peace Fountain), four sculptures and twelve paintings. Eleven of these paintings and the four sculptures form part of his 1980s series “Colour Fields”, where the artist explored the change of colour in the landscape as seen in window reflections. In 1990, the Silver University of Pretoria Medal was awarded to Nel for his contribution to the art.


Week 2 - Looking out of the window

From a Window, Wale Street, Cape Town, 1936

Ruth Prowse (1883-1967)

Oil on board

370mm x 460mm

From a Window, Whale Street, Cape Town (1936) is an artwork by the South African artist Ethel Ruth Prowse (1883-1967). Prowse was not only an exceptional artist, but was also interested in the preservation and restoration of art. This work from the UP Museum’s temporary SA Landscapes exhibition at the Rectorate Foyer is currently on exhibition in the Administration Building on Hatfield Campus. In our second week of Lockdown in South Africa, our streets are empty and we are looking forward to going outside and roam the streets or even taking our dogs for a walk soon. Interpreting this painting by Prowse, one see’s someone looking through a window into a street with people working next to the road in Whale Street in Cape Town. In the same sense as this person is looking out the window are also yearning to step outside again. Social distancing is a reality, however workers and in this case, road workers contribute the construction of our economy. We wish to celebrate the worker here too.


Week 1 - Made in South Africa

Made in South Africa, 1994

David Koloane (1938-2019)

Oil pastel on paper

295mm x 420mm

April is Freedom month in South Africa, despite lockdown as a result of Covid-19. In celebration of Freedom month, the UP Museums are posting an artwork by David Koloane, a South African artist featured in the UP art collection. The UP Museums have recently curated a temporary exhibition on the South African landscape at the Rectorate by the UP Executive and we wish to share some of these local works with you. The landscape in art has the potential to depict a nation’s ideals of individualism, freedom and opportunity. Currently, we are in lockdown within a ‘landscape’ of global pandemic and accordingly facing difficult new challenges within this country and in the rest of the world affecting not only museums but the lives of many. Have a look at this significant artwork by South African artist David Koloane. Koloane’s artworks often depict urban landscapes of chaos, uncertainty as well as how people live and work within a city like Johannesburg. His work is expressionistic in style and contributes to the energetic scenes portrayed within his significant urban landscapes.

David Koloane was born in Alexandra in 1938 and grew up in Soweto where he spent most of his time in the city of Johannesburg.

#UPmuseums #UniversityMuseumsFromHome #StaySafe #SouthAfrica #Freedom #AprilFreedomMonth #UniversityOfPretoria# SouthAfricanLandscape #CurateExhibitions #Lockdown #ExploreArt


- Author Lelani Nicolaisen & Nicole Hoffmann
Published by Lelani Nicolaisen

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