Thanda Safari, the private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, recently hosted 20 artists from around the world for a week long, first-of-its-kind art project titled Art Project Thanda – Star for Life 2016.
Invited by Christin and Dan Olofsson, Thanda Safari’s owners and founders of Star for Life, an awareness, education and AIDS prevention programme for school children, the international group of artists created pieces of art inspired by their safari surrounds and the people they met. Renowned for their use of varying art, their work will go on to benefit Star for Life’s programme, raising funds through a unique exhibition and auction that will be held at Stockholm’s Auktionsverk in Autumn 2017. Paloma Porraz, former Director of The San Ildefonso Museum in Mexico City; the art-historian, Leticia Lopez Orozco, UNAM-University Mexico City; the Director of Stockholm’s Auktionsverk, Niclas Forsman; and the author and World President of PEN International, Jennifer Clement, were all part of this creative group. Included too were photographers, a filmmaker, fashion designers and painters. Christin and Dan Olofsson who founded the Star for Life project in 2005 invited renowned sculptor and artist Johan Falkman from Sweden to help bring together this group of international artists, to visit Thanda Safari and to see the dedicated community work the Star for Life project does. In doing so they hope the artists found the passion and inspiration to create multiple works of art that will be sold to benefit the Star for Life project in South Africa.
The Star for Life Project is an awareness, education and prevention programme that began at the Siphosabadletshe High School, near Hluhluwe in Zululand, in 2005. Launched as a school-based HIV and AIDS prevention programme, Star for Life empowers youth with information and motivation to take decisions that will reduce the risk of them contracting HIV. It is also committed to building positive attitudes and changing risky behaviours in ways that empower young people to realise their dreams of a better future. After an assessment at the end of 2005, funding was raised in Sweden to expand the project to 40 schools in the uMkhanyakude District, at a cost of R32m. The project now reaches over 100 000 children with its message of ‘AIDS-free, that’s me’ using ‘mental vaccination’ to help learners to make informed choices about sexuality. There are currently 62 staff members led by Executive Director Thandeka Mabaso, all of whom are qualified and skilled coaches, counsellors and trainers. The project’s head office is in Richards Bay with other offices in Hluhluwe, Johannesburg and Windhoek, Namibia. The artists were together for a week, during which time they created unique pieces of art inspired by the energy that surrounds Thanda Safari, the communities and the quality time they spent with the children.