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Mary Sibande: I Came Apart At The Seams

October 3 2019 - January 5 2020

Mary Sibande
Mary Sibande, A Terrible Beauty Is Born (Long Live the Dead Queen Series), 2013. Copyright of the artist


Acclaimed South African artist Mary Sibande will be showcasing a new collection of works this October titled I Came Apart at the Seams. Located within London’s spectacular Somerset House, the new display will be part of a collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the international art fair specialising in contemporary African art.

Making her UK solo debut within the gallery space’s Terrace Rooms, the established contemporary artist will bring forth a fusion of thought-provoking sculpture and photography, challenging the archetypal representation of South African women and identities.

Expect fascinating true-to-size sculptures and an array of stunning photographs based on Sibande’s personal avatar, Sophie, in which visitors will journey through a compelling female metamorphosis, from housemaid to powerful woman, a metaphor for Sibande’s female family history and an artistic defiance against past and present South African female stereotypes.

Alongside this myriad of new photographs and sculptures, there will also be a display of the Johannesburg-based artist’s previous works, Long Live The Dead Queen (2009 – 2013) and The Purple Shall Govern (2013 – 2017), each honing in on Sibande – and Sophie’s – transformation and pivotal family past.

Three influential periods of South African history revolving the 20th Century Apartheid underpin the exhibition; the rise and rule, the fall, and the legacy the system now leaves behind. Sibande has tailored three individual rooms to represent each of these defining chapters, one blue, one purple, and one red, in which visitors will experience a post-colonial world marked by marginalisation.

Part of The Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Rooms Series, a new succession of free exhibitions taking place at Somerset House, Sibande’s challenging portrayal of South African history and racial bias promises to be a fascinating experience; a must-see this Autumn for art and history enthusiasts alike.


3 October 2019 – 5 January 2020


Terrace Rooms, South Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA


Mary Sibande’s exhibition I Came Apart at the Seams, is presented in collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House, London, until 5 January 2020.

Entry to the exhibition is free. Visit somersethouse.org.uk for more information. 


October 3 2019
January 5 2020
Event Category:


Somerset House
London, England WC2R 1LA United Kingdom
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