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New sculpture commemorates healthcare workers

MTN SA Foundation has unveiled a sculpture to commemorate the pivotal role that South African healthcare workers have played in helping South Africa progress through the Covid-19 pandemic. The artwork has been donated and installed at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) in Johannesburg.

  • commemorate healthcare worker sculpture
  • commemorate healthcare worker sculpture

‘With the prolonged impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on South Africa and on artists and the art world in particular, we decided that now was the right time to embark on a positive project. Through this project, MTN Foundation is enabling South African artists, to get up, get going, and progress through the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN SA’s executive for corporate affairs

The project included a call for entries, where MTN SA Foundation invited five emerging artists between the ages of 21 and 35, to submit concepts for artworks that use technology as the medium to recognise South African healthcare workers. The selected emerging artists were:

  • Neo Mahlangu
  • Keneilwe Mokoena
  • Tristan Roland
  • Setlamorago Mashilo
  • Alexa Pienaar

The commissioned artist

commemorate healthcare worker sculpture
Alexa Pienaar, the commissioned artist, next to the negative space silhouette of a heroic healthcare worker in her art work called ‘Shift-19’

‘The judging panel was delighted with Alexa Pienaar’s concept,’ says O’Sullivan ‘so we commissioned Alexa to work with Mohammed Hassan, at Red Apple 3D printing to bring the concept to fruition. All five artists received financial support for their involvement in the project.’
     Pienaar, who recently completed her master’s in Fine Art at the University of Johannesburg proposed an installation called Shift-19 which stretches 3m in length, consists of fifteen 3D printed discs that metaphorically and visually represent that of a disassembled telescope.
     ‘Covid-19 has had an impact on how we see the world, on our perspectives, and this comes through in the piece,’ says Pienaar.
     The disassembled pieces of the telescope that hold layers of city skylines (and other significant shapes), construct a large silhouette of a healthcare worker. When viewed from the front of the installation, these pieces display a healthcare worker putting on a mask while walking towards the viewer, coat flapping behind. This resembles a superhero pulling open everyday clothes to reveal a superhero outfit underneath.
     ‘This is done in remembrance of the heroic efforts of the healthcare workers during these challenging times, as the silhouette is that of bravery,’ she says.
     The sculpture has been donated to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. ‘Not only is the hospital a state-of-the-art specialist paediatric academic and tertiary referral hospital but it also houses a notable art collection,’ explains O’Sullivan.

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