Unveiling Of Mandela Sculpture By Tom Rucker At V&A Waterfront | Western Cape Government

Unveiling Of Mandela Sculpture By Tom Rucker At V&A Waterfront

(Western Cape Government)
Nelson Mandela

'Nelson Mandela has inspired millions of people in the world to live together in peace and freedom. He has dedicated his entire life through his active involvement in resolving conflicts, promoting human rights, international democracy and reconciliation, and in addressing racial issues. He stood for a Pure Mind - Rare Vision - Eternal Spirit, which is the title of this sculpture. The materials used, namely platinum and diamonds are originally from South Africa. The white biscuit porcelain from the German based porcelain manufacturer Meissen supports the outstanding 3-dimensional effect of the platinum structure and black diamond eyes of this unique sculpture best.' Tom Rucker

The unveiling of this sculpture is a project within the framework of the Bavaria-Western Cape Partnership, a co-operative relationship that exists since 1995. The aim is to present this sculpture, which symbolises characteristics such as peace, purity, eternity, for the first time in public in honour of Nelson Mandela on 18 July 2012 in Cape Town.

"...we have the greatest respect for Nelson Mandela, the father of modern South Africa. With his extraordinary visionary power and charismatic character, as well as his globally respected commitment to human rights, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest political personalities of our age. I am pleased that the art project "Nelson Mandela: PURE MIND-RARE VISION- ETERNAL SPIRIT' is once again underscoring Bavaria's friendly relations with South Africa." Minister- President Horst Seehofer of Bavaria

About the Artist
Tom Rucker was born in 1970 in Munich, Germany as the 4th generation of a well-established goldsmiths' family. Following this long ongoing family tradition he graduated in 1995 as a master goldsmith. In 1997 he set up the well-known course Creative Laser Welding Techniques for the University of Central England, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design and was the first in the UK to introduce this new technique.

Since 1995 Tom is acknowledged as an artist working mainly in platinum and diamonds. Over the last 17 years he has internationally established his name with large jewellery pieces and objets d'art using state of the art laser welding technology and is globally recognised being one of the most influential platinum jewellery designers of this time.

Over the last few years Tom received many awards such as three Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council Awards, the prestigious German Benvenuto Cellini Gold Medal for the highest standard of excellence in jewellery design and manufacturing, the Lonmin Design Innovation Awards three times, the Prix Arctica of the University of Lapland, many recognitions from the Tokyo International Pearl Design Contest, a special honour from the Japanese Government and many more.

Geo.2 The Technique
The inspiration for creating large scale objets d'art in a hollow and light but very strong structure has Tom drawn from forms found in architecture and aeronautics, where large bodies with maximum strength and minimum weight are needed. His pioneering process creates light, gossamer woven platinum jewels and objets d´art, inspired, he explains, by the American designer, architect and visionary Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983) and his giant Geodesic Dome at the Montreal World Expo in 1967. In this painstaking process he called GEO.2 which Rucker developed since 1995 to it´s present high standard, he laser-welds ultra-fine platinum wire over a body-shape that is then dissolved, leaving an intricate hollow cobweb-like structure that is strong, light and mesmerising in its luminous delicacy.

The Sculpture
During his holiday in South Africa in May 2009 Tom visited Khayelitsha and asked a crowd of teenagers who their biggest idol was. They all shouted out one name Mandela. "Comming from my world I was expecting them to shout out any football, hollywood star or popular singer. This quite emotional experience started a thinking process and my vision to laserweld a life size face and head became a clear image once I arrived back home".

In the same year Tom approached the Nelson Mandela Foundation and family to obtain permission to make this sculpture. In mid 2010 he could finally start with the actual manufacture after the Bavarian State Chancellery generously joined in with some essential support.

A number of various life size models, representing former President Nelson Mandela's face and head on his peak of his career in 1994, was the starting point for a 8 months lasting laser welding process.

A countless number of 0.2 mm ultrafine platinum wire segments were laser welded into a geodesic structure counting more than 1.8 million single laser spot welds after it´s completion.

The arrangement of the individual platinum wire segments is not arbitrary: the angle of the joins, as well as the shape and size of each segment, was key influential in arriving at the final almost alive 3-dimensional appearance of this unique surface. The entire work was done freehand under a microscope with a state of the art ALPHA laser originally designed for industrial purposes such as mould making and prototype manufacturing. No computerised process was involved in the actual manufacture. Each skin detail was precisely followed and mirrored in the surface of the platinum structure. Once the laser welding process was finished, the mould was dissolved. The result was a thin and light appearance of Mr Mandela made in platinum and eyes set with black diamonds in black rhodium, all materials originated from South Africa.

Bavaria Western Cape Partnership
The cooperative relations between these two regions have started in 1995 with the first Protocol signed by the Premier of the Western Cape and the Minister-President of Bavaria. Since then the bilateral relations have developed and expanded to many fields of government, various community projects and the economy. During 2012 the 15th anniversary of the partnership was celebrated with the Bavaria meets Western Cape Expo 2010, the biggest joint project to date, in Cape Town. Minister-President Horst Seehofer also visited the Western Cape later in 2010 and Premier Helen Zille paid an official visit to Bavaria in September 2011.

In view of the scope and intensity of the bilateral relations it was decided to form a Joint Working Group between the two regions that meet once a year alternating between Cape Town and Munich. The first meeting took place in Munich in June 2011 and the next meeting would be in Cape Town in February 2013.

It is the first time in the 17 years of the partnership that a project such as the unveiling of the Mandela sculpture is undertaken. It is a special tribute flowing from this successful partnership between Bavaria and Western Cape to Mr Mandela on his birthday on 18 July 2012.

Weight approx: 3.4 Kilos (3400 gramm)
Width: 18 cm (7.2")
Depth: 20.5 cm (8.2")
Height: 28.5 cm (11.4")

Platinum from Rustenberg
Black Diamonds from Kimberly
Black Rhodium
White Meissen biscuit porcelain
Manufacture time: over 1 year in full time
Laserwelding: over 1.9 Million single laser spot welds
Laser equipment: ALPHA Laser ALM 200

Platinum part hallmarked:
London Assay Office, The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014