Ambassador of France to South Africa bestowed medals of the French Order of Arts and Literature on six remarkable South Africans
The ceremony took place at the Granger Bay Hotel School Restaurant, Beach Road, Mouille Point in Cape Town, where Darryl Els, George Hallet, Ismail Mahomed, Frances Murrey, Riason Naidoo and Catherine du Toit were honoured by H.E. Ambassador Elisabeth Barbier with the medallion of the Order of Arts & Literature.
The order of Arts and Literature, established in 1957 by the French Minister of Culture, rewards those who, through their ongoing engagement and creativity, have helped develop the arts and culture in France and throughout the world, building bridges between our nations.
Read the Ambassador’s speech :
Read about the six South Africans who have been honoured by H.E. Ambassador Elisabeth Barbier with the medallion of the Order of Arts & Literature :
• Mr Darryl Els as Chevalier des Arts et Lettres :
Mr Els is the newly appointed director of the Encounters film festival, co-founder of the independent Johannesburg cinema The Bioscope, curator of film programs in South Africa and overseas, jury member of the Durban film festival and an expert in South African cinema history. The 2012 French cultural season in South Africa really made him a friend of France – his dedication to the “Home Movie Factory” by French filmmaker Michel Gondry was one of the season highlights. In 2014 and 2015, he was the programmer of the European Film Festival in South Africa, working closely with the French Institute of South Africa, in charge of the festival organisation.
• Mr George Hallet as Chevalier des Arts et Lettres :
A humanist photographer, Mr Hallet started his career covering the forced removal at District Six in Cape Town. His first photographic exhibition was held in Paris in 1971 along with South African artists Gerard Sekoto and Louis Maurice. He returned to South Africa in 1994 to photograph the first Democratic Elections, and was then appointed official photographer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997.
• Mr Ismail Mahomed as Chevalier des Arts et Lettres :
Mr Mahomed has been the Artistic Director at the National Arts Festival since 2008. The cooperation between the National Arts Festival and France in South Africa celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year.
• Ms Frances Murrey as Chevalier des Arts et Lettres :
Ms Murrey has been involved in Open Book Cape Town festival since its inception. During the French South Africa Seasons of 2012 and 2013, she worked closely with the French Institute of South Africa and the Etonnants Voyageurs festival in France to create an exciting program that featured significant Francophone and South African voices in both countries.
• Mr Riason Naidoo as Chevalier des Arts et Lettres :
Mr Naidoo is an artist first of all - his paintings can be found in the Pretoria Art Museum, at the University of KwaZulu Natal and at the Durban Art Gallery. He was the Director of the Iziko South African National Gallery for five successful years. He has also been in charge of artistic projects at the French Institute of South Africa. In 2013 he co-curated A Portrait of South Africa : George Hallet, Peter Clarke & Gerard Sekoto at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris as part of the South African Season in France.
• Ms Catherine du Toit as Chevalier des Arts et Lettres :
Ms du Toit holds a degree from the University of Nantes and is a Doctor Litterarum et philosophiae in French from the University of Pretoria. She is currently heading the Department of Modern Foreign Languages of the University of Stellenbosch, after years of providing training in the French language for South African diplomats of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.