An auction for Africa

Sotheby’s are holding an Art for Africa charity auction in London on Monday, featuring works of art donated by a range of contemporary British and South African artists.

The sale has been organised by Cape Town-based artist Beezy Bailey and philanthropist Tara Getty. Getty’s Africa Foundation, which empowers rural African communities through sustainable development projects, is one of the charities benefiting from the sale. Another is Ikamva Labantu, an organisation that helps unsupported and vulnerable children in need.

“Art for Africa is about giving. In our African culture, there is a word, ubuntu, which means showing concern and kindness to others. It is in this spirit that Art for Africa exists,” says Bailey, who believes that through the compassion of the artists, the sale will live up to Pablo Picasso’s assertion that “art is love made real”.

Sharing the love, Bailey has donated several works of art, including a photograph by his alter-ego, Joyce Ntobe, titled Church in Khayelitsha.

Bailey dreamed up the character of Ntobe and began producing art in her name in response to what he believed to be an overly politically correct gallery and competition circuit. The pseudonym has enabled Bailey to make a successful transition, as an artist, from male to female, and from white to black.

The auction supplies bidders with an opportunity to buy one of a series of 50 works Bailey created with David Bowie, few of which have been shown in public. Only one has ever been offered for sale in the past. Annie Lennox is another rock star contributing to the auction, with a photographic work of art. Yinka Shonibare’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is one of the highlights and comes with a projected price tag of £20 000 to £30 000. Shonibare, a British artist of Nigerian descent, explores issues of race and class, culture and history, which, according to the catalogue, blurs “the boundaries of design, ethnography and contemporary art”.

Leading South African artists Marlene Dumas and William Kentridge have donated art works. Dumas, who held an exhibition at MoMA in New York earlier this year, is the world’s most expensive living female artist. There are also photographs by David Goldblatt, Roger Ballen and an iconic image of a young Nelson Mandela practising boxing taken by Drum magazine’s Bob Gosani.

Sculptors such as Deborah Bell and Dylan Lewis help to bring together a broad range of South African artists for the international art market. “We believe the quality is really outstanding,” Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s contemporary art specialist, says of the South African art scene. “It’s about time people began to look at what’s happening there creatively.”

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