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MESSAGES AND MEANING (article first published : 2006-07-24)

The MTN Foundation pays tribute to local African artists with the recent aunch of its art collection book, Messages and Meaning.

The 300 page art collection book showcases artists and artworks from MTNís corporate collection, which is known to be one of the most extensive corporate collections. An exhibition of some of the finest works from the collection accompanied the launch of Messages and Meaning and this will be part of a national tour taking the collection around South Africa with Durban included in the itinerary.

The colour images of the African and South African artworks in the MTN Art Collection illustrate a series of 13 essays by leading writers, art historians, anthropologists and curators. These include Andries Oliphant, Emile Maurice, Nessa Leibhammer, Khwezi Gule, Pattabi Ganapati Raman, Philippa Hobbs, Ronel Kellner, Colin Richards, Clive Kellner, Wilma Cruise, Judy Seidman and Elizabeth Rankin.

The writers share their insights on many of the 1,400 works in the Collection, the messages they embody, the stories they tell, the ideas they communicate and the spaces Ė both architectural and psychological Ė the works occupy.

The MTN Art Collection was initiated in September 1997, when MTN made a modest purchase of artworks: a woodblock by Lucky Sibiya, a few screen prints by Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi and beadwork from KwaZulu-Natal. This marked the beginning of what was to become a leading corporate collection. It also sowed the seeds of the future features of the Collection, such as its representation of traditional and contemporary art from Africa and distinctive holding of contemporary prints. These prints are now believed to be the largest printmaking holding among South African corporate collections.

Edited by MTNís resident art curator, Philippa Hobbs, Messages and Meaning is published by David Krut Publishing. It sets out to be an informative, diverse and sumptuous read for years to come. The pages have been carefully crafted to provide material useful to researchers, art historians and teachers. This takes the form of a history of the collection, an extensive index and substantial detail on its artworks.

The MTN Foundation intends to distribute presentation copies of Messages and Meaning to libraries and arts organisations, ensuring that it will be available as widely as possible.

More information from Philippa on hobbs_p@mtn.co.za, Niel on nortje_n@mtn.co.za or Sharon on oliewen@nasmus.co.za




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