London Exhibition “we Love Mandela” Pays Homage To Icon

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Among around 50 works by some 22 artists atLondon’s “We Love Mandela” exhibition, a portrait portraying Nelson Mandela playing the role of Jesus at the Last Supper pays homage to the peace icon. Caption LONDON: A portrait of Nelson Mandela by British artist Richard Stone and a portrayal of him playing the role of Jesus at the Last Supper are some of the works on display in London’s “We Love Mandela” exhibition. Some 22 artists, all South African with the exception of Stone, are displaying around 50 works reflecting the “emotions of people”, their feelings and ideas about South Africa’s first black president, exhibition curator Natalie Knight told AFP. Many of the artists showcased were forced to work underground during the era of apartheid. Peace icon Mandela featured “at the top” of the list of personalities whom Stone, portraitist of Queen Elizabeth II and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, wanted to paint. “It was the most daunting experience I had ever had” and also “the greatest privilege”, the artist told AFP. “Here we have quite possibly the most famous man on the planet,” he said. “My goal was to capture something of the soul of this very great man.” Stone recalled how Mandela “allowed a little window to be open into his soul” during the six sittings which took place in his Johannesburg office in 2008. The painting, which features a dignified white-haired Mandela wearing one of his trademark colourful shirts, was sold at auction in 2008 for around 480,000 euros ($650,000) during a London concert celebrating his 90th birthday. The exhibition gives equal billing to numerous cartoons by South African animator Zapiro, one of which shows Mandela sat in a carriage next to the queen as they travel through the streets of London. A policeman turns to his colleague and says: “The next bloody tourist who asks who’s the little old lady with Mandela…!” For Knight, the drawing epitomises “the importance of Mandela in the world.” Another work explores the power of Mandela’s clenched fist, the symbol of his fight against apartheid, while another imagines Mandela as the central figure at the Last Supper, surrounded by “his” disciples, including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. The exhibition was postponed on several occasions due to health concerns over 95-year-old Mandela, who was hospitalised in June and is now receiving intensive care at home.

Next up Major plays the djembe drum while Reid coos Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me and holds the room spellbound. Interlude follows quickly with Hannah on the keyboards playing a melodic lullaby as she sings …ooh how we dream of you, and deadpans after this is not a dirty song as some people think. Its a song about insomnia. More cheeky banter is exchanged with bandmates about how hard life is being in a band and later, about their accents. She adds: This is our first tour. You would have thought that we would have toured the UK but we havent, thats next year. This is our first proper tour. To which the crowd applaud and cheer. The dark melancholia drenched in her singing voice juxtaposed with gossamer lightness when she speaks makes her an enchanting creature to behold on stage. Though comparisons have been made to Florence and the Machine who may have more imagery-rich lyrics, Reid employs her vocals altogether differently tending to hit those high head tones resulting in melodies less jerky and jarring. And whatever limitations her lyrics may pose now, her full-bodied voice with shades of Sade envelopes you like a glove and takes you there. They leave out their recent Disclosure collaboration, Help Me Lose My Mind but do three covers. Nineties dance hit, What Is Love? by Haddaway; Chris Issaks Wicked Game sounding like the flip side of the same coin; and Nightcall by French house artist, Kavinsky whose track was used as the theme for the Ryan Gosling vehicle, Drive. It is a flawless set even when they do make mistakes. Like when Reid starts on the wrong key, then stops and with a smile, apologizes to the floor getting us all in on the joke.