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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


(Pic: Mike and Alice Barber, proud owners of “Global Warming”)

Annual auction, exhibition and gala dinner sponsored by Bonitas.

An auction, exhibition and gala dinner held at Sibaya Casino this weekend raised more than R200,000 for the conservation projects of local NGO, the Wildlands Conservation Trust. A variety of artists were represented in a colourful exhibition of 200 original artworks representing Africa’s people, wildlife and landscapes. The auction, hosted by Brandon Leer, fetched R95,500 alone with the highest bid of R19,000 going in for Ian Van Zyl’s Global Warming. Among the 400 guests, corporate Durban was well represented with Unilever, The Elan Group, Smith & Nephew, Tongaat Hulett Developments, ABI and others. Guests of honour were Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Patron of the Trust, and Durban’s Deputy Mayor, Mr Logie Naidoo.

Van Zyl’s Global Warming is a poignant, bold piece which buyers Mike and Alice Barber, long-time supporters of Wildlands, say will take “pride of place” in their son’s restaurant in Rivonia. Some of the other pieces on auction were Pemba Beach II by Philip Briel for R9000 and Maureen Edgecumbe’s Reed Harvesters, Kosi Bay which went for R8,500. Anne Cleveland’s Bearded Vulture, which she painted to highlight the plight of the endangered bird, sold for R3,000. There were also holidays on auction which went for a steal including package holidays at Phinda Private Game Lodge, Karkloof Spa and Thonga Beach Lodge for R8,500, R7,000 and R6,500 respectively.

Some artists donated as much as 50% of the sale price to Wildlands. The exhibition housed sculptures by Llewellyn Davies, Sarah Richards and others, a variety of paintings (from landscapes to portraits), ceramics from Ardmore and Trayci Tompkins and leather rugs and ottomans by Klaus Manock.

Curator Lindsay Sommer said she has been privileged to be part of the event for the past three years. “Wildlands is involved in essential well-managed projects and that is why many artists give so generously. Over the years, fully donated works have come from top South African artists like Dylan Lewis, Keith Joubert, Luke Vink and Walter Voigt. At the end of the day, the art produced by the artists and the work done by the Wildlands Conservation Trust all contributes to the richness of our South African heritage.”

A highlight of the evening, and a new addition to the event, was a production by theatre legend Ellis Pearson and partner S’Dumo Mtshali. The physical theatre production entitled Little Tree had guests ducking from flying peppers, losing their serviettes to a ‘gusting wind’ and clapping along to the finale, a symbolic tree planting. Sponsored by the eThekwini Municipality’s Environmental Management Department, the production is aimed at highlighting the need to find balance between development and taking care of the natural environment. It now goes on to be performed in schools and communities to spread the message.

Bonitas Medical Fund, South Africa’s second largest medical aid company, sponsored the celebratory black tie dinner, an annual affair for Wildlands. This year, the theme was “Go Wild” with the banquet hall decorated in tasteful animal print and complimented by stunning bold flower and table arrangements in rich African browns, oranges and yellows. A few guests dabbled with the theme, some with elegant prints, others adding tails, ears and masks to add to the fun! The delicious four-course plated dinner, complimentary Moreson wines and handcrafted gifts for the ladies rounded off a wonderful evening for an important and very worthy cause.

Funds raised from the event will go towards the conservation initiatives of the Wildlands Conservation Trust such as the Indigenous Trees for Life project and critical conservation research initiatives including leopard, wild dog and elephant monitoring projects.

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