17 Bay artists in New Signatures Awards

Some 604 entries were received for this year’s Sasol New Signatures Awards and, following a rigorous judging process, these have been whittled down to a shortlist of 94 works which will vie for top honours in the keenly contested annual competition.

The national judging panel has been finalising their selection of the seven finalists and on Wednesday the overall winner will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the Pretoria Art Museum. Seventeen Port Elizabeth artists and two from East London have made the shortlist. A prominent feature of the competition is the opportunity for entrants to attend feedback sessions, encouraging them to learn, evolve and progress in their career development.The awards’ national chair Professor Pieter Binsbergen said it was encouraging to see quality, raw talent vying for inclusion in the Sasol New Signatures catalogue, “which is eagerly anticipated by international art enthusiasts who are sitting up and paying attention to our artists”.

Sasol New Signatures is SA’s longest-standing art competition and an important developmental journey for emerging artists. This year’s entries engaged with topical issues relating to the impact of social media, identity politics, the environment, gender and challenges around political and social justice. Judge Ashley Walters from Whow Studios in Durbanville said: “Identity and belonging is still strong throughout many works, including specifically land and ownership”. Stellenbosch judge Isabel Mertz concurred: “Strong narratives were identity, place/ space attachment and displacement.”

Judging a large number of entries of diverse mediums is a demanding brief but the judges were guided by three criteria: concept, technique and presentation.Successful pieces were well conceptualised, well executed and well presented. “I’m excited to see who comes out tops this year,” Binsbergen, who is based at Nelson Mandela University said. Wednesday’s overall winner will receive R100,000, the runner-up R25,000 and each merit award winner R10,000. The overall winner will also get the opportunity to host their first solo exhibition as part of the 2019 competition.

All 94 finalists’ works will be displayed at the Pretoria Art Museum until October 7. The 17 Bay artists who made the selection are: Kader Abdulla, Amy Carver, Skye Cronje, Kelly Crouse, Benice de Klerk, Debbie Fan, Robyn Munnick, Jandre Nel, Bamanye Lethu Ngxale, Grettel Osorio-Hernandes, Rene Pirie, Sheree Schmidt, Jade Schutte, Sanelisiwe Singaphi, Jeanie Steyn, Jonathan van der Walt and Michael Wedderburn.The two East London artists are Natasha Bezuidenhout and Sonwabiso Ngcai. More about the competition at www.sasolsignatures.co.za