Walk in the footsteps of liberation giants such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Helen Suzman at Maropeng, where almost 100 striking life-sized bronze statues from the Long March to Freedom exhibition are on display as South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy in 2019.
In keeping with Maropeng’s mission to profile the human journey from our earliest beginnings, this National Heritage Monument exhibition celebrates South Africa’s own complex journey – and offers a chance to reflect on the realities of the present and the possibilities the future holds during this pivotal election year.
The Long March to Freedom exhibition, previously housed at the Fountains Valley resort in Tshwane, can now be seen at the Maropeng Visitor Centre until the end of June 2019, thanks to an agreement with the National Heritage Project Company.
Said to be the largest exhibition of representational bronze sculptures anywhere in the world, it has an estimated value of R100-million.
Says Maropeng managing director Michael Worsnip: “The arrival of the Long March to Freedom exhibition is an ode to the veterans and supporters of the struggle for freedom and democracy. The Cradle of Humankind is about the full span of the human journey. This is our South African journey.”
Take a slow walk past the statues as you follow South Africa’s four-century odyssey to freedom represented by a succession of iconic figures. Meet and learn more about the kings and chiefs, the intellectuals and activists, the leaders and supporters, and the many other brave men and women who played a vital role in shaping the South Africa of today – all sculpted in walking motion, symbolically striding forward in unison towards democracy.
According to the National Heritage Monument website, this exhibition is an artistic attempt to redress the historical imbalances in a country that was torn apart by colonialism and racial segregation, while offering a site for learning and self-reflection.
The commissioning of the first 100 life-sized statues, in what will eventually be a procession of more than 400 bronzes, has been a monumental undertaking, creating employment and skills transfer opportunities for a number of established and up-and-coming South African sculptors.
This large-scale public art initiative has seen some 40 professional sculptors and their assistants being tasked with producing the statues, with a further five emerging artists being trained and mentored in the art of bronze sculpture. Eight local foundries have been involved in manufacturing and installing the bronzes.
Members of the public have free access to this open-air art exhibition, located opposite the Maropeng Visitor Centre’s main car park. Then you can experience the amazing underground exhibition taking you back some four million years – or enjoy lunch or a cup of tea in one of our restaurants.
It truly is a journey of discovery!