Joseph Ndlovu – Humanity, 1995
Joseph Ndlovu (1953)
Fibre / 1814 x 1505 mm
Commissioned in 1994
This is the very first artwork of the Constitutional Court Art Collection (CCAC). In 1994, when the first eleven Justices were appointed to the Constitutional Court bench, Justice Albie Sachs and Justice Yvonne Mokgoro were given the portfolio of décor. They were given a minimal budget of R10,000 to decorate the temporary courtroom befitting the dignity of all people that would move through the court. They used three-quarters of the budget to commission this work. This tapestry, hand-woven by Ndlovu, stands as a testament not only to the birth of the Constitutional Court but also as an emblem of the promise of constitutional democracy in South Africa.
The work provides a visual manifestation of the Constitution's underlying principles of humanity. It is a marked departure from the law being depicted by Lady Justice, blindfolded with scales in one hand and sword in another. The artwork depicts several figures huddled together with their eyes closed, signalling impartiality towards each other and of the law, embodying the constitutional values of non-racialism and non-sexism. The warm colours and texture add to the work's welcoming nature. This work is arguably one of the sparks that prompted the establishment of the CCAC and suggests the broad aim of the Collection – to express principles of justice, equal human rights and reconciliation.