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Unlimited Global Alchemy

Rachel and the Bambanani Group in Cape Town

Unlimited Global Alchemy began life in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town through a residency led by artist Rachel Gadsden (UK) in collaboration with the Bambanani artist-activist Group (SA). Over six exciting weeks a large number of drawings, sketchbooks and paintings were created, and a series of portraits directed by Gadsden were made with filmmakers Deborah May and Cliff Bestall.

Fuelled by the politics and myths surrounding chronic health issues – in particular HIV/AIDS – this startling body of work offers visceral and often poetic perspectives on what it means to experience disabling conditions and to fight openly for life in the face of social taboos.

The results of Gadsden's unique association with the Bambanani now come to the UK, together with a further series of her artworks, a specially commissioned catalogue and a new performance created in response to the Cape Town collaboration.

The performance, co-directed by Gadsden and choreographer Athina Vahla, featuring performers Freddie Opoku-Addaie and Sarah Chin and Gadsden creating visual art live on stage, premieres at the Southbank. They are joined by Michael Mannion (lighting); Chas De Swiet and Paul Gundry (sound); Mamoru Iriguchi (design).

The limited edition catalogue carries images of artworks, a DVD and texts including a foreword by South African author Jonny Steinberg.

At the heart of this life affirming and timely collaboration is a celebration of survival against the odds.

The Bambanani Group, led by Nondumiso Hlwele, is Noloyiso Balintulo, Bongiwe Mba, Thozama Ndevu, Thobani Ncapai and Zodwa Somlayi.

Produced by Artsadmin, Unlimited Global Alchemy is part of Festival 2012; launching at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in Cambridge and culminating at the Southbank during the Paralympics in London.

Link to Calendar of Events

The Unlmited Global Alchemy catalogue will accompany all presentations and be available through various bookstores. If you are interested in pre-ordering a copy, please visit:

Unlimited Global Alchemy has been awarded one of the thirteen commissions in the second round of awards for Unlimited, the ground-breaking programme that celebrates arts and culture by disabled and deaf artists on an unprecedented scale for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It is one of three commissions in this round created in collaboration with international partners and with funding contributed by the British Council. Unlimited is principally funded by the Olympic Lottery Distributor and is delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, the Scottish Arts Council, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.


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