London Met partners with Liliesleaf Trust UK for an exhibition celebrating Leah Tutu's 90th birthday

Students and staff from the University contributed to an exhibition in Cape Town dedicated to the famous South African activist.

Date: 31 October 2023

Earlier this month, London Met students and staff members travelled to Cape Town to help preparations for an exhibition held to celebrate Leah Tutu’s 90th birthday on 14 October. This visit is the first of two trips with the support of the Vice-Chancellor that gives students an opportunity to work abroad. 

Speaking about the visit, Professor Lynn Dobbs said: “International work and study opportunities like these allow students to expand their horizons. London Met is shaping global citizens who are equipped to drive innovation and foster understanding in an increasingly interconnected world.” 

Leah Tutu is a renowned activist and the founder of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation (DLTLF). She has devoted her life to the pursuit of justice and freedom and shared her unwavering passion for ending apartheid with her husband, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, together, they challenged the oppressive regime.  

Leah Tutu drove the Domestic Workers and Employers Project at the South African Institute of Race Relations from 1976 to 1984. Her tireless advocacy for the economic and human rights of domestic workers during the apart

Building lasting partnerships

The university’s involvement in the exhibition arose through London Met’s ongoing partnership with The Liliesleaf Trust UK's Anti-Apartheid Legacy: Centre of Memory & Learning (TLTU), a charity working to advance public knowledge of the international movement against apartheid and the contemporary relevance of learning from this heritage, particularly within anti-racist and social justice focused missions. 

Sophie Cloutterbuck, one of the instrumental organisers of this partnership, said “A key element of our partnership with the Liliesleaf Trust UK is the collaborative art and curatorial community engagement that we can work together to accomplish. The exhibition for the indomitable Leah Tutu was a unique and wonderful opportunity for our students and staff to engage with an internationally and historically significant institution.” 

Caroline Kamana, Director of TLTU, said “We are delighted that our partnership with London Metropolitan University was showcased through our South African based partners, The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. It’s fitting that students representing both Graphic Design and Illustration & Animation represented our partnership at the exhibition opening in Cape Town.  

Over the last three years of our partnership with London Met, the exceptional creativity and depth of insightful reflections the students from these two disciplines have shown in response to anti-Apartheid heritage has supported us to engage wider audiences with its contemporary resonances and themes of resilience, collaboration, and inclusion. We’re honoured to have been part of the 90th birthday celebrations for Mrs Tutu” 

Selected pieces from the “Strength in Unity” travelling exhibition created by London Met students for TLTU are on display, alongside two additional artworks of Leah Tutu and Mary Benson that were commissioned by The Liliesleaf Trust UK.  

Unique student opportunities

Students Alicia Jara Alfonso Molina and Lucia Caceres Alves were chosen to attend the exhibition in Cape Town. Alicia was thrilled at this opportunity, “During the exhibition, I learnt more about the people whose acts changed the direction of a country battling injustice and inequality, as well as celebrating Leah Tutu's 90th birthday at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Foundation, which was a once in a lifetime chance. 

“It was such an enriching experience from beginning to end. It is one thing to study and read about something, but it is another to experience it because when you are there, you can feel and see the consequences and effects of the apartheid government even thirty years after it ended, as well as the struggle and the fight of the people to recover and grow together.” 

Course Leader for BA Illustration & Animation, Emily Evans, ran this project alongside Associate Lecturer Olu Oke. Emily also attended the trip to Cape Town alongside the students. “The illustrative posters by my students really showcase the power of illustration to highlight and share such important events and people.” 

“The students really worked hard on each creating a unique and informative poster that can help spread awareness of these important activists. Being able to exhibit the posters at the Desmond and Leah Tutu foundation to Celebrate Leah Tutus Legacy is an honour for everyone who worked on the project.” 

Emily Evans, Alicia Molina, Lucia Alves, and members of the Tutu Legacy Foundation and Liliesleaf