Seasoned statesman and struggle icon Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor Benson Fihla delivered a stirring call for unity at the opening of the Biennial Exhibition at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum on Wednesday evening, 29 October.
“To the young child growing up in the most difficult and impoverished conditions to those who have no care in this world; this facility [Art Museum] must bring people together to experience life seen through the eyes of men and women captured in paintings, beadwork and sculptures amongst others.
“Our art, culture, history and our heritage must ultimately be the glue that brings us as people of different backgrounds together to make Nelson Mandela Bay a better place for our children and many generations to come.
“Congratulations to those artists who were ultimately selected as your works were chosen from entries from across South Africa by art professionals who consider your work to be an important contribution to the industry in the Eastern Cape.
“I understand that the exhibition was started to develop local talent and artistic excellence and to create a noteworthy modern exhibition of Eastern Cape art.
“When we launch events like this, we must always be mindful of how far we have come as a country to achieve this dream that people of all races, political association and religious preferences can come together to appreciate the aesthetics in life. Just over twenty years ago, we would have been branded as terrorists for attending an event where people of different kinds are represented,” Mayor Fihla said.
The Biennial Exhibition that will be on show until February 2015 was initiated to advance local talent and artistic excellence and to present a noteworthy contemporary exhibition of Eastern Cape art. Twenty eight artists were selected from nominations received to participate in this celebration of Eastern Cape artistic excellence.
Executive Mayor Benson Fihla, affectionately known as Oom Ben, was jailed on Robben Island for fourteen years and was also placed under house arrest for a number of years.
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