To Whistle Back (2 February – 22 April 2023)


February 2, 2023 - April 22, 2023    
12:00 am


Bookings closed

Event Type

An Exhibition for Lent and Easter

In 1963, from within his prison cell during solitary confinement, Albie Sachs whistled the main theme from Dvořák’s New World Symphony as a form of creative protest. From the confines of prison another detainee whistled back. This hopeful tune became a means of both gentle defiance and of solidarity.

Thirty years later the Truth and Reconciliation Commission sought to strengthen an infant democracy through restorative justice. Since 1995, the term ‘reconciliation’ has borne different meanings to South Africans. Its complex embodiment ranges from the intimacy of everyday relationships to the formality of national legislation. Yet, it might be best described as a project aimed at solidarity. ‘Reconciliation’ is the theme that binds this exhibition together because of its importance in the story of South Africa and how it echoes into our future.

One voice that reverberates in South African dialogues on justice and reconciliation, is that of the church. The prophetic voices of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Beyers Naude, Steve Biko, Albert Luthuli, and Jaap Du Rand come to mind. Another distinct mediator (or whistle-blower) in this conversation is the Arts. As aptly stated in his essay ‘Holy Beauty’, theologian and anti-apartheid activist John W. De Gruchy writes:

[A]rt has the potential to change both our personal and corporate consciousness and perception, challenging perceived reality and enabling us to remember what was best in the past even as it evokes fresh images that serve transformation in the present. This it does through its ability to evoke imagination and wonder, causing us to pause and reflect and thereby opening up the possibility of changing our perception and ultimately our lives. (14)

This exhibition showcases works of South African artists, past and present, which grapple with the difficult theme of reconciliation in South Africa. Some works are solemn and call for reflection. Others intend to challenge perceptions. Overall, this selection of imaginative artworks serves to remind of the hope which Christians find in the Easter narrative, where Christ paid the ultimate price to reconcile man to God: the hope for a new world.


Bookings are closed for this event.