Public Art

 

Little Mamma Africa, permanent slate installation at Atteridgeville Super Stadium, Pretoria (2010)

 

little mamma

Little Mamma Africa, permanent slate installation at Atteridgeville Super Stadium, Pretoria (2010)

Photos by Elizabeth Olivier-Kahlua

Taylor was commissioned to create a sculpture for the 2010 World Cup for a soccer stadium in Atteridgeville. The 7m tall sculpture shows a young girl – Little Mamma - holding out a gift. The gift is made from a stainless steel box frame in which any object may be placed, but for this occasion it held a sphere, signifying a soccer ball. The idea was that after the World Cup, the sphere could be replaced with any other relevant object, for example; a Christmas hat or a small tree on Arbor Day.

Taylor chose a girl for two reasons: the first being his sense that in our country today, our future - whether our success or our failure - lies in our youth; and secondly because, like most major cities worldwide, ours hold many public statues of the traditional male hero whether on a horse or with a gun, plough, or some tool of dominance. By contrast, a little girl may serve as metaphor for the potential mother of all humankind, ‘Mamma Africa’.

Little Mamma relates to the same system of construction that Taylor began in 2005, where he hammered together 6 500 pieces of wood to create a self-portrait bust. For Little Mamma the studio was given a relatively small budget to erect an outside sculpture, and it must be remembered that the open air diminishes the scale of any sculpture built indoors. Taylor made a studio maquette which was scaled up with the laser machine custom built by DSW. Artists Francois Visser and Steven Delport modelled the larger work from which a mould was made. Instead of casting the work in a traditional expensive material, the mould was packed with stone then cast or solidified with concrete. In this way, Little Mamma relates to the idea of gift giving, that art does not only exist in the market economy but also in the gift economy.

Little Mamma is also a humorous reference to a figure we are all familiar with, such as the Venus of Willendorf, rather than an idealised female figure. It was felt that the idealised female figure may be interpreted only from the perspective of the ‘male gaze’ instead of having universal appeal of the child. The Little Mamma reads without any negative connotations related to politics, or gender.

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