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ESTHER MAHLUNGU (article first published : 2007-01-10)

Presented in association with Nedbank and CLASSICfeel Magazine and supported by Fine Music Radio 101.3 in Cape Town, the ACT Awards 2006 recognised and rewarded outstanding individuals, organisations and agencies for the important supportive role they have played in the development of South African arts and culture.

The ACT-Lifetime Achievement Award for 2006 sponsored by The Vodacom Foundation was presented to visual artist Esther Mahlungu.

In speaking about Esther Mahlungu's contribution to the visual arts in South Africa and abroad Marilyn Martin (Director of Art Collections at the Iziko SA National Gallery) indicated that hers has been an extraordinary journey from rural beginnings to national and international fame. “She has attained icon status,” Marilyn Martin continued. “Through it all she has remained true to her roots and to herself - a woman of enormous integrity, dignity and commitment to her work. Ms Mahlangu's role in the history of art is important, as she personifies for many the continuation and constant revitalisation of tradition as reflected in the art and culture of the Ndebele people of South Africa."

Esther Mahlungu has continued to work within her community, while at the same time responding to and renewing her art practice through a crossover of cultures and experimentation with new materials and forms of expression. The "traditional" Ndebele aspects of her work continue and are immediately recognised; at the same time she has established a national and international reputation as an individual artist who fits into the concept of contemporary art.




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