Madiba’s secret rabbit
Tiny signature on huge Mandela statue causes some surprise
WHAT, a rabbit in Madiba’s ear? Really, a rabbit?
That was the reaction of Arts and Culture spokesperson Mack Lewele, when he was asked about the the rabbit hidden in the right ear of the huge statue of Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings.
Lewele said the department was not aware of the hidden animal and would investigate. Sister paper Beeld provided a picture of the secret.
Pretoria sculptors Ruhan Janse van Vuuren and André Prinsloo pulled the rabbit out of the hat — or the ear — this week.
They said they placed it as their “signature” after the department wouldn’t let them place their signatures on the bottom of one of the statue’s trouser legs.
“The rabbit [ haas in Afrikaans] is symbolic of the haste [ haas in Afrikaans] with which the statue had to be made. The time was short and we often worked very long days,” said Prinsloo.
Janse van Vuuren said he wanted to leave his mark so that one day his grandchildren would be able to point to the statue and claim it as his work.
Prinsloo said the hidden rabbit doesn’t intrude on the statue. “You need a long lens or binoculars to see it.”
He said no one noticed it during the casting process.
“We thought someone would eventually spot it, but not so soon. There’s really no deeper meaning behind it,” he said.
Janse van Vuuren said they are happy the statue has become a visitor favourite in the month it has been in place. “As an artist you are never completely satisfied. I would have liked to put patterns on Madiba’s shirt to represent his trademark look, but the department preferred a simple, clean image.”
Lewele declined to say whether the department would consider removing the rabbit. “We would first want to hear what the artists have to say before discussing it internally,” he said.
The rabbit in the right ear of former president Nelson Mandela’s bronze statue at the Union Buildings.