Tribute to Nelson Mandela: A hero lost but never forgotten

Nelson Mandela passed away on the 5th December 2013 at the age of 95. Loved, respected and admired by people across the world, Madiba was a role-model to many and idolised by even more.

We share the sadness of our nation at this time, and send special condolences to his family. We are inspired to contribute to the building of South Africa in a country and a nation that would make Nelson Mandela proud.

Chris Swift, the artist, had the following to say with regard to the recent passing of Mandela:

“Mandela represents the best parts of us. His legacy will be best remembered by us practicing the aspects of our noble traits which he demonstrated so humbly.

Mandela will be sorely missed, and his legacy will never be forgotten. A true hero and an inspiration to all.

Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom

The movie, ‘Mandela: A long Walk to Freedom’ has generated excitement over the past few weeks with dazzling premiere events in major cities around the world. The movie hit South African movie cinemas on the 28th November 2013, and international cinemas on the 5th December 2013. The movie is based on the book, A Long Walk To Freedom,  and tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s journey through from childhood to becoming the president of South Africa.

Selo Hatang of the Nelson Mandela Foundation was there to say a few words about the movie. Jack Swart, who was Nelson Mandela’s guard while he was under house arrest, was also present, as well as acclaimed satirist Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro).

Charmaine Taylor, creator of the Legacy Collection, ( was lucky enough to attend the premier of Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom on the 19th November.

Charmaine had the following to say about the movie, “I found the movie to be incredibly well done even though a lot of the journey was not captured due to time constraints. The movie is already  over two hours long. “

When asked about the lead actor, Idris Alba’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela, Charmaine had the following to say:

“Before the movie I thought Idris Alba to be very brave taking on the task to play our iconic Nelson Mandela as he did not look like him and must have felt the pressure of the world and South Africans. But you can really see the heart and soul of Nelson Mandela though his portrayal. His mannerisms and accent I found to be brilliant.

When Charmaine was asked about the role that Naomie Harris played as Winnie Mandela, she had the following to say:

“Naomie Harris was brilliant as Winnie Mandela and truly captured what she went through in her relationship and the torture she experienced while Mandela was in prison.”

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom reveals the hardships and challenges that Nelson Mandela and other anti-Apartheid activists faced prior to 1994 and throughout the Apartheid era.  When Charmaine was asked if she would personally recommend it for others to watch, she enthused:

“I really urge all South Africans to go and watch this movie, as it was very surreal for me. If you are of a certain age, you can remember these events that took place, and where you were on the day of Nelson Mandela’s release. And remember all the world-wide sanctions and massive freedom concerts worldwide to free Nelson Mandela. “

When Charmaine was asked whether there were any particular scenes within the movie that really stood out to her, she said,“There is a beautiful scene of Mandela speaking through the Robben Island fence to a younger man and he held up a clenched fist and said “together we are stronger”. This gave me goose bumps and struck me to the heart as Mandela spoke through the Robben Island fence to the younger generation with such strength and grace.”

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom also portrays the significance of Robben Island within Mandela’s life, which is aligned with what RIACT stands for and promotes. A piece of Robben Island and a symbol of the difference that one man’s actions can make in the world.

To view the Legacy Collection, please have a look at Charmaine’s website:

Waste 2 Art Christmas Tree Installation

Chris Swift was commissioned by the City of Cape Town to create a Christmas Tree installation in the Company Gardens as part of their Waste 2 Art initiative. He used the reclaimed fencing from around Robben Island prison as a primary component of the tree. The result was a very attractive installation which garnered a lot of attention from passers by.


Lisa King Gallery stocking RIACT products

Lisa King Gallery

The highly regarded Lisa King Gallery in the Cape Quarter now stocks a selection of RIACT products. Lisa King herself has purchased a piece from the Modern White range for her personal collection. Lisa is an avid collector of art and artefacts connected to Nelson Mandela and loves the RIACT project.

The gallery is located opposite Tank Restaurant in the Cape Quarter (Shop B14). The contact telephone number is +27 21 421 3738

The website is

Presentation on RIACT by Chris Swift

Chris Swift gave a presentation on RIACT at a Pecha Kucha evening in Cape Town on the 2nd of November 2010. Pecha Kucha is a presentation style where twenty slides are displayed for twenty seconds each and the presenter must complete his message in that time and hopefully timed to match the slides.

Chris’ presentation was excellent, covering all the relevant points in a powerful and respectful way. Click below to watch the YouTube video of his presentation.

Article on Apartheid Museum installation in Engineering News

Engineering News magazine published a great article about Chris Swift’s installation at the Apartheid Museum. Titled Twenty Years Ago (2010), it is made from the original Robben Island prison fencing and draws attention to the fact that 2010 is not just about the soccer World Cup but is also, and perhaps more importantly, the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

You can read more about the installation piece on Chris Swift’s website and the online version of the Engineering News article is available at this address:

Twenty Years Ago

Chris Swift Launches Website

Chris Swift, art director of RIACT has launched a website showcasing his art. It includes the pieces made from the Robben Island Fencing as well as his works which won numerous awards including the Spier Contemporary 2010.

Chris also uses the website to share his thoughts and thought processes. New content is being uploaded every week so it’s advisable to check the website regularly. We’re proud to have the RIACT project featured on his site.

Chris Swift Website Screenshot

Unframed Fencing Now Available

The range of Robben Island Art products now includes an unframed option which is also cheaper, making it a great gift. People who are travelling will love this option, as will people who want to frame their piece of fence their own way to suit their taste or decor.

As with all other pieces, the boxed fence still has a unique number which is engraved into the lead seal. It comes with the matching certificate of authenticity as well as a page containing the story of Robben Island and the fence.

The box is quite hard and will travel well, and it looks extremely professional.

Apartheid Museum installation

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a highly regarded museum. During the World Cup it hosted tens of thousands of visitors. We are proud to have some of the Robben Island fencing installed at this prestigious location.

As part of their celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela, the museum commissioned Chris Swift to create an installation piece in the garden using the original fencing from the Robben Island prison.

Chris installed the piece over several days and the final result is truly magnificent. The installation is called Twenty Years Ago and is a large 2010 made from scaffolding and Robben Island prison fencing.

The artist’s statement about the piece: Continue reading “Apartheid Museum installation”

Waterfront Exhibition Extended

On the 27th of April (Freedom Day), a special event was held in the Clocktower Mall as part of the Freedom Day celebrations at the Waterfront. The purpose of the event was to draw attention to the exhibition and the connection to the release of Nelson Mandela twenty years ago. Three speeches were given; one by Chantelle Kidd, head of marketing for the V&A Waterfront. Chantalle spoke about the V&A Expressions of Art series and how pleased they were with the RIACT exhibition, expecially the strong connection to Robben Island and Freedom Day. Chris Swift, on of the artists and the creator of the installation piece outside the Robben Island Gateway, presented about the artworks and artists, sharing inside information on the process behind the exhibition. Dax Villanueva of RIACT spoke about the role of RIACT in the exhibition and how it was the first of many projects to support the vision of creating employment and skills development, while supporting local art.

Several art pieces in the exhibition were sold in the lead up to Freedom Day, as well as Continue reading “Waterfront Exhibition Extended”