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Life in the time of COVID

12 December 2020 - 30 April 2021
Life in the time of COVID

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum is once again open to the public 9:00 to 16:30 weekdays (closed Tuesday mornings for cleaning). To support the prevention of the spread of COVID we will continue to limit the amount of people entering the venue to groups of 20.  Larger groups can book in advance to ensure proper adherence to COVID safety regulations. To enter the exhibition masks must be worn.


This exhibition has been extended to April 2021. The exhibition is also available online. The virtual tour shows a full 360 view of the exhibition and provides special access to performances of poems by the Helenvale poets.

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID is made up of three components:



IMAGING THE VOICE is an exhibition of poems and images created by the HELENVALE POETS. The project was funded through the Nelson Mandela Bay Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture small grant programme and combines poetry and photography. Poet, mentor and project leader, Brian Walter, assisted the group by collating over 100 poems and images into a poetry book and visual exhibition. The poems reflect the experiences of 19 young people living in Helenvale. The poems describe the impact of the current COVID pandemic, reflect on life in the Helenvale community and celebrate the beauty we can still find around us. Contributors, Leonie Williams, Shenesia Booysen and Charné Williams were team leaders and assisted the younger members of the group to make the project possible.  


The project, administered by the SADRAT Institute, received additional support from Volkswagen Community Trust, Dryad Press and members of the community who donated pre-owned phones or cameras. The Swiss TPH Support Group provided equipment and the Nelson Mandela University CCT helped with T-Shirts which were printed by Goshawk Printers. Silke Heiss provided proof-reading and language advice, and Mike Barwood did design and layout.



Over the past six months, the Friends of the Art Museum in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum sponsored art journals to art groups across Nelson Mandela Bay. Learners in these groups have used their journals to draw and reflect on life during the COVID pandemic. In the last month the groups have visited the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum to produce large scale sketches.


The four participating groups are:


HAND IN HAND STUDIO founded by Sakhumzi Nyendwana and his brother, Mzindsi as an art gallery and tourists’ attraction in Motherwell township. 


ARTWORKS FOR YOUTH based in the community of Joe Slovo. Artworks for Youth is facilitated by John Lombardo and provides free visual art instruction, academic support and mentoring to students in Nelson Mandela Bay.


IZ’KOLI ART was founded in 2019 by a group of young artists from Red Location, Anele Zephe, Makhonsandile Molose and Theo Zonke, They aim to uplift local New Brighton youth through various community projects including creating murals and organizing street cleanups.


RAW NATIVE KREATIVES was founded by six young creatives who share a passion for community development. Mhlehi Hallom is the managing director. The goal of the group is to help equip township youth with acquiring life skills through art education. 


The Friends of the Art Museum is a non-profit organisation that has supported the Art Museum for over 40 years. In recent years this organisation has assisted to bring underprivileged kids to the museum for art workshops. While the Museum is closed to the public due to COVID, the Friends decided to support local NGO’s who use art to uplift the lives of kids from our most impoverished communities.



An interactive exhibit where we ask the public to participate. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to write on a pieces of paper and add messages of hope to our wishing tree. 

Contact Details

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum

1 Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, 6001, South Africa
+27 (0)41 506 2000 / Fax: +27 (0)41 586 3234
Please address all correspondence to the Director.

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