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Iziko Museums of South Africa is pleased to announce the launch of ‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’, an innovative, 3D virtual exhibition that brings to life the ceramic sculptures created by Samuele Makoanyane (1909 – 1944).

Active between 1930 and 1944, Makoanyane lived and worked in the Koalabata village in the Teyateyaneng district of Lesotho – creating realistic sculptures of important figures in Lesotho’s history, such as King Moshoeshoe and Josua Nau Makoanyane, and becoming one of Lesotho’s prominent early 20th century artists. In addition to the historical figures he sculpted, Makoanyane also created figurines of the people he observed around him going about their daily pursuits: women carrying pots, making beds, and breastfeeding babies.

For the first time, this unique rendition of Makoanyane’s work offers viewers and scholars an interactive opportunity to virtually explore the delicate figurines in great detail and from all angles – including the bases and inscriptions on the works. In the production of ‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’, an intricate photogrammetry process was used to carefully document Makoanyane’s ceramic sculptures. This process entailed measuring, mapping and digitally adjusting the tiny sculptures into 3D models to create an exciting online presentation – now available on the Iziko Museums of South Africa website HERE.

‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’ features Makoanyane figurines from the Iziko Museums Collections, as well as seven sculptures of musicians, each playing a different instrument, from the Kirby Collection at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Furthermore, the exhibition is enhanced by a film sponsored by UCT’s College of Music entitled Music in the Mountain Kingdom. This film, which was shot at the Morija Museum and Archives in early 2020, features contemporary musicians playing five of the seven instruments that Makoanyane sculpted.

The idea to focus on Makoanyane’s work emanated from discussions around the new Lesotho National Museum project when staff from the Lesotho Ministry of Culture met with staff of the Iziko Museums in Cape Town in 2019. The visit was facilitated by Jon Weinberg of DIJONDESIGN, consultants and mandated representatives of the Lesotho National Museum (LNM) – a project of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture of the Government of Lesotho.

A physical exhibition of Makoanyane’s works, along with a conservation training programme for incumbent staff of the LNM was initially planned for 2020. Unfortunately, this objective could not be realised due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the closing of museums during 2020. This challenge was turned into an exciting opportunity when Iziko Museums partnered with DIJONDESIGN in the development of a virtual offering instead of displaying the figurines behind glass in a conventional museum setting. Steven Sack is the guest curator of ‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’ and Stephen Wessels was responsible for the outstanding photogrammetry work.

The virtual exhibition of ‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’ places these exquisitely modelled works of Makoanyane in a new and exploratory exhibition realm, further enhancing the profile of the artist and contributing to the focus by contemporary scholars on this genre of ceramic sculpture.

Explore ‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’ HERE.

FEATURED IMAGE: Ceramic sculpture by Samuel Makoanyane (1909-1944) of Moshesh or Moshoeshoe (c.1776-1870), the first king of Lesotho from 1822 to 1870. Collection of the Iziko Museums of South Africa. Photographic rendition by Stephen Wessels (DIJONDESIGN photogrammetry specialist). From the virtual exhibition ‘KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen’ developed for the Iziko Museums of South Africa and the Lesotho National Museum and Art Gallery.

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