Jean-Jacques Cornish

Africa’s largest contemporary art gallery opens in Cape Town

A gallery housing the largest collection of contemporary African art has opened in Cape Town.

It’s housed in what was a disused grain story silo on the waterfront below the city and features art from the African continent and its diaspora.

Entering the Zeitz Mocaa gallery one encounters a giant dragon created out of rubber by South African artist Nicolas Hlobo.

German sportswear mogul Jochen Zeitz is the biggest financial backer of the 32-million euro project and many of the pieces on display come from his private collection.

He says bankrolling the gallery is one of the high points of his life.

He insists its not his gallery, but Africa’s  and he invites African artists to fills its space.

Art critics maintain the Zeitz, which is being called Africa’s Tate Modern, is still missing many important African artists.

British architect, Thomas Heatherwick, who converted the grain silo, has used latticed windows to reflect Table Mountain and the Ocean which are two iconic images of Cape Town.

He says an abiding memory of his work will be cleaning an inordinate amount pigeon droppings from the empty building.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille says art lovers and people interested in African culture must put the museum on their bucket lists.

Entrance to the facility is free at certain times to African passport holders.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.