Durban’s Umcebo Design creates art for Aids


Durban Actor Nhlakanipho Manqele encourages groups of young people to participate in The Butterfly Project – one of the fringe art events of AIDS2016 which encourages youth to envisage an AIDS free generation. Nhlakanipho Manqele plays all-knowing Owl in KickstArt’s adaptation of Winnie the Pooh over the July school holidays at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on UKZN campus. Pic: Publicity Matters

Respected Durban art makers, Umcebo Design, is involved in two participative art projects as part of AIDS2016 – Light of Hope, an enormous chandelier with individually-beaded leaves which pays tribute to people touched by HIV/Aids; and a youth project envisioning an AIDS free-generation, dubbed The Butterfly Project.

Both projects involve community participation and both are made using recycled plastics –  family-sized yoghurt tubs and ice cream containers.

Light of Hope and The Butterfly Project have both been designed and facilitated by Robin Opperman and Ujala Sewpersad of Umcebo Design, a specialist art making consultancy based in Glenwood.

The former is a special project within South African Voices: Towards a Museum of HIV Memory and Learning which will open ahead of the AIDS2016 conference in Durban. Based at KwaMuhle Museum, it is a collection of artefacts, artistic, historic and photographic items that pay tribute to people affected by HIV.

The Light of Hope is an interactive sculpture installation taking the form of a large HIV hope light sculpture to be constructed in the Global Village of the AIDS2016 Conference this July.

Leaves 1 - Copy

Bren Brophy: Museum Curator;  Nkosikhona “Uzzi” Mpungose: Youth Liaison Officer, and Illa Thompson: publicist, with some undecorated “leaves” for the Light of Hope – a project of South African Voices: Towards a Museum of HIV Memory and Learning. Pic: Harry Lock

Consisting of plastic leaves made from recycled materials, each leaf will carry personalised, beaded messages of remembrance, hope and celebration. The idea is for conference delegates to participate in the making of the Light of Hope artwork and in so doing, contribute their voices to this special, legacy museum piece. Participation in the Light of Hope is free to all AIDS2016 visitors.

The Butterfly Project is a legacy project initiative of the United States Consulate Durban, the Denis Hurley Centre and the office of the Premier, funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It aims to get KZNs teenagers involved in AIDS2016 to envision an AIDS free generation.

One hundred young people a day, over six days, will create butterflies out of recyled plastic in workshops at the Denis Hurley Centre in the heart of Durban working towards a huge public art installation which will be on display at the DHC over AIDS2016 before being dismantled and elements sent for display at participating communities.

Workshops run until July 11 daily at the DHC. Alongside the butterfly-making workshops, DramAidE and facilitators will be affirming the health education message that behavioural change is necessary to work towards an AIDS free generation.

If you want your youth group to participate and attend the butterfly making workshops, contact Seth Pyoos on tel: 031 301 2240 or

People are invited to drop off clean 2l white and cream ice cream containers and large yoghurt containers at Umcebo Design weekdays, office hours at 171 Bulwer Road in Glenwood. Also kitchen cutters, scissors, pliers – in fact any wirework tools – will also be welcome.

For more information contact call Robin Opperman at 083 793 3408 or email

You can keep in touch with Umcebo Design through Facebook or the website




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