Top ten finalists

Bright Ackwerh

Bright Ackwerh

Ghana, Selfication, Digital print on acrylic coated paper 71 x 95 cm

Profile:
Ackwerh (b.1989) obtained a BFA (painting) and MFA (painting and sculpture) from KNUST. He has participated in several exhibitions in Ghana, as well as participating in the 2016 Joburg Art in South Africa and the ARTXLAGOS Art Fair in Nigeria.

Description of Artwork:

Nelson Mandela is undoubtedly one of the most recognised leaders the world has ever known. His exemplary leadership in African politics cannot be overstated and it is for this reason and more that several world leaders graced his funeral ceremony when he passed on. It was bizarre, however, that the then President of America and Prime Minister of Britain, together with the Prime Minister of Denmark, were seen busily focussed on their selfie-taking games while Mandela was being eulogised. In my painting – which seeks to question the position of Africa in global politics – Michelle Obama comforts a saddened Mandela, who is shocked by the gross disregard, as she was the one who ended that ‘selfication’ on the fateful day. Robert Mugabe sits and watches, unperturbed? Cynically smiling? Perhaps because, all through their lifetime, he was portrayed as the opposite of Mandela?

Bright Ackwerh

Maral Bolouri

Maral Bolouri

Kenya, Mothers and Others, Installation, 152 x 123 x 123 cm

Profile:
Bolouri (b.1982) has a BA (FA) from University of Art, as well as an MA in International Contemporary Art and Design Practice. She has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Kenya, the United States of America, Kuala Lumpur and Tehran. She was a top 100 finalist in the 2015 L’Atelier competition.

Description of Artwork:

Mothers and Others investigates representations of women in African oral traditions. This multi-sensory, interactive installation explores the power of proverbs by juxtaposing negative and positive depictions of women in cultural truisms. These adages overwhelmingly portray women as helpless imbeciles, except for when the sayings espouse women’s reproductive potential as mothers. Through three metaphorical structures, Mothers and Others draws the audience’s attention to the negative and positive proverbs, as well as to the proverbs we have yet to imagine. In one structure, handmade iron cowbells, representing the objectification of women and bearing examples of negative proverbs, hang from a giant stool. Underneath, a small altar holds the few positive proverbs about women, related almost exclusively to motherhood, surrounded by extinguished candles. The third – a blank board – invites the audience to contribute their own proverbs. The artist encourages the audience to interact with each structure.

Maral Bolouri

Priscilla Kennedy

Priscilla Kennedy

Ghana, Untitled 2016, Fabric, 117 x 118 cm

Profile:
Kennedy (b.1994) is presently studying towards a BA (FA) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. Since 2015 she has participated in several group exhibitions in Ghana.

Description of Artwork:

This body of work depicts an embroidered female figure in pink underwear on a forest green keffiyeh (scarf), trying to hold both hands at her back – this may seem impossible but she still tries. This takes a jab at the social stereotype that women are tools of seduction. There is this kind of sacredness that the piece may seem to profane but it’s not only the profanity that the work portrays but also the sacredness of this particular headdress. With the kind of iconography and paradox that comes into the work, it’s literally giving women visibility through both the work’s medium and its artistic technique, considering the contradictive nature of both materials. This work of art renders a two dimensional view; the front which may be perceived as accomplished and the back that looks loose.

Priscilla Kennedy

Banele Khoza

Banele Khoza

South Africa, Note Making, Digital drawings printed with an inkjet printer, 172 x 153 cm, Multiple parts

Profile:
Khoza (b.1994) obtained his National Diploma in FA from the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa. In 2015 and 2016 he was a top 100 finalist in the L’Atelier competition.

Description of Artwork:

Traditionally, note making has been done with pen on paper. With the development of technology the process is steadily changing – over the past years I have owned a tablet that responds to a stylus and has enabled note making that resembles traditional tools. The tablet enables one to sketch at any time of the day, and declutters the working space. Within the notes, I question representations of what it is to be a male in South Africa and also in a broader context. Male nudity and vulnerability is still something that isn’t vastly portrayed in media today and, with this body of work, I have allowed myself to be vulnerable by expressing my thoughts and feelings, which are easily decipherable to a patient eye. The gaze shifts to the male body and raises issues around heteronormative representations of masculinity in portraiture.

Banele Khoza

Dale Lawrence

Dale Lawrence

South Africa, Making Work, Linocut on paper (Zerkall Litho VI 403), 90 x 90 cm

Profile:
Lawrence (b. 1988) obtained his BA (Creative Brand Communication), specialising in Graphic Design, from AAA School of Advertising in 2009. He obtained his post-graduate Diploma in Art (New Media) from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town in 2010. Lawrence has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions across South Africa, as well as participating in the Cape Town and Joburg Art Fairs.

Description of Artwork:

This artwork is digitally designed, hand-carved and produced through a traditional, physical process. This seems counterintuitive, as digital processes normally follow the physical to improve productivity. This makes the artist conscious of how new technologies are meant to reduce demands on our time, but often have the opposite effect. As Marshall McLuhan said: “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” Do my extra efforts add value to the final work? Is the labour involved somehow different to what goes into mundane, everyday tasks? Is it possible that the effort was unnecessary and that that gives the work a nostalgic or ironic value? Is it the ability to own something created with care that seems rare nowadays? Or perhaps it is the embedded message that I am a hard worker that a potential owner aligns themselves to, effectively broadcasting this to friends and guests as a statement about themselves?

Dale Lawrence

Oliver Mayhew

Oliver Mayhew

South Africa, Receipt Poem: Shop right, Installation with sound, 200 x 200 x 200 cm

Profile:
Mayhew (b.1990) has a double major in philosophy. He has a BA (FA) from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He has participated in a number of exhibitions and art fairs across South Africa, including the L’Atelier exhibitions in 2014 and 2015.

Description of Artwork:

This is a two-part poem: The first part is a practical realism, the second part is a segregated commercialism.

Part one: big TEETH colgate t/p

- R11.99; pln DOughNuT 70g

- R4.99; SEa harvest f/cakEs 300g

- R28.99; PrOVta m/grain 250g

- R21.99; glEn Rooibos TEA bg

- R13.99;

total - R81.85;

vat - R12.34.

Part two: TEETH DON’T SEE POVERTEA

Oliver Mayhew

Manyatsa Monyamane

Manyatsa Monyamane

South Africa, Koko Meikie, Photography, 73 x 53 cm

Profile:
Monyamane (b.1989) graduated with a BTech (Photography) from Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. Monyamane has participated in several group exhibitions.

Description of Artwork:

When does a trend begin? Who defines the boundaries and measures of style? Who claims the prize of being the originator of the current most acceptable standard of contemporary beauty? It would be superfluous of us if we were to continue borrowing our grandparents’ rags without acknowledging their primary influence in what we consider fashionable identities today. This project thus focuses on capturing the essence of timeless beauty and style of the youth of the 70s and earlier, looking at how they define themselves 50 years later. Are they as stylish today as they were when they were teenagers fighting an oppressive system? My argument: yes, indeed! They walk tall and don’t bat an eye to a fleeting trend; rooted in their authenticity, unmoved.

Manyatsa Monyamane

Wilhelmina Nell

Wilhelmina Nell

South Africa, No evidence of a Struggle, Bronze, wax paper and wood, 7 x 16 x 19 cm

Profile:
Nell (b.1990) obtained a BA (FA) from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2014. She was a finalist in the L’Atelier competition in 2014.

Description of Artwork:

Growing up, I was told that the crust of a loaf of bread contained the most nutrients and as such it is very important to always eat it, should I wish to grow up healthy. This seemed reasonable since it matched up with all the other life lessons I was being taught, which emphasised the importance of hard work and good behaviour, no matter how unpleasant it may be. I was assured that diligent behaviour was the key to a happy and successful future. As such, the discarded lunchbox – filled with untouched crusts – became a sickening symbol of sloth. It is the mark of a person unwilling to be proactive in their success, in a world where I was told good deeds and actions always yield good results and misfortune is brought on through one’s own faults.

Wilhelmina Nell

Elias Njora

Elias Njora

Kenya, Foot Prints 4, Mixed media on canvas, 140 x 180 cm

Profile:
Njora (b.1992) has participated in several group exhibitions in Kenya, with his first solo exhibition presented in Nairobi, Kenya in 2016.

Description of Artwork:

In this body of work I explore how everyday human activity alters the appearance of physical spaces within which these activities are carried out. The interaction of people with their surroundings leaves behind marks that alter the appearance of these spaces over time. The resultant aesthetic is often a testament of time and histories, leaving us with hints of activities or the nature of people who may have used these spaces over time. Drawing inspiration from Nairobi, I interpret these marks/footprints as a collage of everyday human activity that takes place in the city. The process entails creating layers from photographs and paint, producing mixed media surfaces. The layers and marks represent the Foot Prints left behind.

Elias Njora

Ciara Struwig

Ciara Struwig

South Africa, Evidence, Installation, 200 x 137 x 57 cm

Profile:
Struwig (b.1983) graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (cum laude) from UNISA, South Africa. She obtained her Masters in Visual Arts, with distinction, from the same University in 2016.

Description of Artwork:

Evidence represents the aim to collect, document and analyse the trace residues that remain in the aftermath of artistic production. From a post-anthropocentric view, all objects hold equal value and interpretability, and the project demonstrates the value of the artistic process. Part of this process is a compulsion for observation and self-observation, and this became a key point for each artist as they selected and collected their submission. This installation is the cumulative archive of The Evidence Project, a collection of physical evidence that has formed as the result of conceptualising and making artwork. 111 artists worldwide contributed samples. The individual characteristics of the evidence allows for the association with a specific artist’s works and, potentially, a specific individual work. The ‘forensic’ documentation of each submission has been catalogued in the form of a book. The presentation, on laboratory furniture, references a workstation where evidence is documented.

Ciara Struwig