Client: National Heritage Non-Profit Company
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Completion date: 2019
Director & CEO
National Heritage Project Company
Director & Heritage Director
National Heritage Project Company
The world’s greatest exhibition in bronze. The Long March to Freedom is a monumental procession of 100 life-size bronze statues and the largest exhibition of its kind anywhere in the world. Installed in Cape Town, the individual bronze artworks depict South African and international icons, some famous and others unknown, and tell the story of South Africa’s 350 year struggle for freedom and democracy through the lives of the persons represented.
It is a one-of-a-kind concept, an immersive and moving experience as visitors connect with the lives of the persons so vividly created in bronze. From the Khoi leaders of the 1600’s, to proud Xhosa and Zulu Kings, to the men and women who led the liberation struggle through the dark years of apartheid in South Africa, including some international leaders, the procession is a sweeping narrative of South African pride in the country’s diverse history and cultures.
The bronze artworks are created by an all-South African team of artists and trainees, foundries, historians and other experts. The quality and visual appeal of these statues and the minute attention to detail are as absorbing as the inspiring stories of the individuals.
The bronze artworks are created by an all-South African team of artists and trainees, foundries, historians and other experts. One of the goals of the project over the 10 years since it’s inception has been to include and empower as many established and emerging artists and artisans from all across the country. The quality and visual appeal of these statues and the minute attention to detail are as absorbing as the inspiring stories of the individuals. From the start, the Long March to Freedom has enriched the lives of many 1000’s of people, from those who worked or were trained on the project, to the school children who have never before had the opportunity to fully experience their own history and heritage, and the domestic and foreign tourists who laud the Long March to Freedom as one of South Africa’s most exciting heritage attractions.
The project was initiated in 2011 when the concept of telling South Africa’s liberation story through a monumental bronze procession was first developed. Commissioned artists and trainees have to work to a tight brief which details how their individual fits into the greater scheme. For instance, all the figures are to be depicted in motion, walking or moving forwards, as part of a generational procession, and the approach must be one of representational realism. Artists also have to work very closely with the professional team of the project Directors, their advisors, and researchers, who strictly monitor the creation process. Minute attention to detail is key and the quality and visual appeal of these statues are as absorbing as the inspiring stories of the individuals.
The Long March to Freedom is conceived as a demonstration of how many individuals actually participated in South Africa’s liberation journey, and that the journey started 100’s of years before apartheid. It returns to the people of South Africa their own history, which was for many years repressed or denied during both the Colonial and apartheid eras. Long March to Freedom is also intended to generate national pride amongst South Africans, especially the youth, who have never before had the opportunity to fully experience their own diversity, history and heritage. The bronzes in the procession are all in motion, moving forward, symbolising the journey to liberation.