British Museum exhibit explores the art of South Africa

Story highlights

  • South African art is on display at the British Museum
  • The exhibition covers seven key episodes of South African history

(CNN)A car painted by renowned 81-year-old artist Esther Mahlangu and Zulu carved ox horns are just some of the items on display at the first major UK Exhibition on South African Art.

The exhibition explores the rich heritage of the country and covers seven key episodes of South African history, sculptures, clothes and ornaments are displayed alongside artwork from the same time to give them context.
    The gold treasures of Mapungubwe -- small gold figures found in royal graves in the former capital of the first kingdom of South Africa -- are one of the significant loans to the Museum. They are formed into the shape of animals and status symbols such as crowns.
    Today one of the treasures, the golden rhino, can be seen on South Africa's highest honor; the Order of Mapungubwe, which has been awarded to Nelson Mandela, journalist Zwelakhe Sisulu and novelist Doris Lessing.
    "'South Africa: the art of a nation' is a chance to explore the long and diverse history of South African art," said Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum in statement, "and challenge audience preconceptions in the way our visitors have come to expect from a British Museum exhibition."
    South Africa: the art of a nation is on until February 26 at The British Museum.