Exhibit of Mandela Sketches Opens at American Tobacco

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ATC logoFOX 50 logo   Exhibit of Mandela Sketches Opens at American Tobacco
“Spirit of Freedom” To Run
February 1 – April 27
Spirit of Freedom

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Former South African President, Nobel Prize laureate and former political prisoner Nelson Mandela penned these words in his autobiography, “A Long Walk to Freedom.” 

Mandela revisited his 27-years of imprisonment, 19 of which he spent on Robben Island, with a series of charcoal and pastel sketches.  And now, for a limited time, Triangle citizens and visitors from far and wide can see those pieces at American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham.

The Struggle Series
The Struggle Series
“These sketches are not so much about my life as they are about my own country. I drew hands as they are powerful instruments, hands can hurt or heal, punish or uplift.” – Nelson Mandela

“This is a milestone for North Carolina and for American Tobacco,” said ATC General Manager Paul Pope.  “It’s one of our biggest exhibits.”

CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon purchased the series of lithographs “My Robben Island II” while on a trip to South Africa last year.  The pieces riveted him, catching his attention as he passed an art gallery.  He had earlier toured Robben Island with a former prisoner as guide.  Goodmon said he had read some of Mandela’s speeches previously but had never thought much about what he’d been through. 

The pieces capture Mandela’s memories of Robben Island.  He added color to the stark charcoal sketches to contrast the colorless life he and fellow prisoners lived there.

The Tower The Tower photo
The exhibit includes Mandela’s sketches alongside photographs of the actual subjects, like “The Tower” above.

He summed up this motivation in his handwritten description which accompanies “The Tower”:  “In this sketch I have attempted to pull together the two elements that overshadowed our lives for so many years: The towers and the ever restraining barbed wire… The use of more cheerful colours in the sketch is my way of presenting how we feel today.”

 “Spirit of Freedom:  Drawings & Narratives from Nelson Mandela’s Imprisonment at Robben Island” will be on display from February 1 – April 27, 2007, in the lobby of the Strickland Building on the American Tobacco Campus.   The exhibit is free and open to the public.  The exhibition area is open Monday – Sunday, 9am-6pm.  Groups of 10 or more are welcome but must register online at the American Tobacco website.

CBC, American Tobacco and FOX 50 are sponsors of the exhibit along with GlaxoSmithKline and Idearc Media.

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Capcom story about VIP reception & unveiling at ATC:

















Mandela originally unveiled the series of sketches in Jan 2003.  The works included in American Tobacco’s “Spirit of Freedom” exhibition are part of a larger series called “A Touch of Mandela.”  At the 2003 opening for the sketches, Mandela said, “That is what I would like to share with people around the world, and, hopefully also project the idea that even the most fantastic of dreams can be achieved if we are prepared to endure life’s challenges.”

POSTED: February 1, 2007

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