East London sculptor wins R150,000

Mziwoxolo Makalima’s winning work

An Eastern Cape artist has landed the top prize in a prestigious national art and design competition, winning R150 000 in the process.

East London’s Mziwoxolo Makalima impressed the judges of the annual PPC Imaginarium Awards with his thought-provoking sculpture entry titled Doubt-Queuing, securing not only the overall title but also winning the sculpture category of the competition.

The winners were named at a gala event at the UJ Art Gallery in Johannesburg on May 18.

Makalima’s concrete and mild steel sculpture aims to give voice to a “voiceless, subjugated society”.

The piece represents a group of community members who have stood for a very long time as they hope and wait for change.

“The concrete represents the strength of the community that has had to endure unfulfilled promises that seem to have been extended ever since the dawn of social equality called democracy,” Makalima, who is based in Gonubie, said.

The Engcobo-born artist, 35, who began his studies at Tshwane University in Pretoria before completing his national diploma and then his B Tech at Walter Sisulu University in East London, further explained the concept behind his work.

“It is time to let go of ‘rotten’ reinforcing. This does not mean our concrete society has lost its strength. It only means it can make a stand. We are taken advantage of and treated as stepping stones, while our votes only gave us seconds of fame.

“We are tired of waiting and yet we go back to waiting. This waiting has become the trademark of our liberation – waiting, hoping for change. This is a long wait for promises made by those who call themselves leaders.”

Makalima’s winning entry was chosen from 55 finalists who submitted concrete art and design works in the categories of sculpture, industrial design, fashion, jewellery and film. No architecture submissions made the final round this year.

Last year up-and-coming jeweller Mignon Daubermann took the top prize with her exquisitely crafted pair of tinted cement rings.

Sonwabiso Ngcai’s entry “Emweka”
Sonwabiso Ngcai
Sonwabiso Ngcai

Another Eastern Cape entry that stood out was fellow East Londoner Sonwabiso Ngcai’s work, Emweka. It was the runner-up in the sculpture category, earning prize money of R15 000.

“Being an identical twin myself, Emweka explores a particular aspect in the life of twins, within the context of the Xhosa cultural and traditional belief system,” Ngcai said.

“Twins have to observe a specific ritual in which they throw silver coins into the sea to appease their ancestors before they can bath or swim.

“Before colonisation was brought to South African shores, the concept of money was foreign among the traditional Xhosa people. The introduction of money totally changed traditional people’s systems of production, distribution and exchange as these became principally characterised by money as a primary means of exchange, which Africans did not have.

“Money cost most traditional societies all over the world their land, animals and agricultural stock, but it also forced them into labour for their colonisers.”

Emweka means “white” and in this context refers to silver coins as “white”.

“In my work, the Xhosa requirement for twins to throw money into the sea could be read as an active participation in de-colonisation, where one of the most colonial valuables is rendered useless and thrown back to where white people came from [the sea],” Ngcai said.

This year’s winners will also benefit from a nationwide travelling exhibition, media exposure and mentorships.

Winners were chosen by a panel of industry heavyweights, including architect and awards director Daniel van der Merwe, fashion and design consultant Allana Finley and well-known curators Stephen Hobbs and Zanele Mashumi.

The PPC Imaginarium Awards encourage the ingenious use of Portland-based cement and serve as a platform for highlighting creative talent, assisting emerging artists and designers to launch their careers.

A winner of several Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards, the PPC Imaginarium Awards have cemented PPC Ltd as a benevolent supporter of art and design in South Africa.

This year’s winning pieces are being exhibited at the UJ Art Gallery until June 15, after which the exhibition will travel to top national galleries such as 100% Design South Africa in Cape Town and the KZNSA Gallery in Durban.

The exhibition will not be making a turn in the Eastern Cape, but a pop-up exhibition of entries from Nelson Mandela Bay and surrounds was held at the ArtEC gallery in Bird Street in February.

Entries for the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards have opened. Visit the PPC Imaginarium website for more information.

Leave a Reply