Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose (Mashabane Rose Architects) originally collaborated in 2007 with the view to making an interactive sculpture that incorporated the image of Nelson Mandela. Culture Mechanics, a specialist museum, exhibition, design and art consultancy curated the project and commissioned the installation.
The sculpture, acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the capture of Nelson Mandela, consists of 50 laser cut steel columns between 6 and 9.5 meters high along a thirty-meter length. The sculpture can be seen from the road as a forest of steel poles.
To see the sculpture, visitors walk from the Visitor Centre along a path representing 'the Long Walk to Freedom' towards the sculpture culminating at the viewing point halfway down a cut into the earth where the steel columns gradually come together and focus at a particular point 30m meters from the sculpture.
The 50 linear vertical steel columns line up at this point creating the illusion of a flat two dimensional image magically recreating Madiba's portrait, metaphorically announcing his return to the site of his disappearance from world view.
Walking close towards and through the sculpture, the portrait image dissolves back into the forest of 50 columns. When visitors look across the road they will see the original memorial.
The sculpture eloquently becomes part of the surrounding landscape and visually shifts throughout the day - affected by the changing light and atmosphere behind and around it.
This is the largest artwork of its kind in South Africa and has instantly become an international symbol of the iconic status of Mandela.
Photo by Jonathan Burton