Sarah Baartman Sculpture: a public conversation with artist Willie Bester

Interviews, Videos
28 Mar 2018

A sculpture depicting Sarah Baartman, created by artist Willie Bester, has been on display at UCT for 12 years – and twice in this period was robed by students as a means of protest.  

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The sculpture was created to honour Baartman, a slave in the Cape Colony who was shipped to Europe and put on display in freak shows across the continent. She died in Europe and her remains were preserved in jars for scientific experiments and eventually put on display in a French museum. Her remains were later returned to Cape Town, thanks to the intervention of former president Nelson Mandela, and she has been re-interred in the Eastern Cape. Baartman has become a focus of discussion within the UCT community, with calls for Memorial Hall to be renamed Sarah Baartman Hall. This discussion focused on the location of the sculpture, as well as its robing and unrobing.