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Collen Maswanganyi film showcases life-changing opportunities of L'Atelier art competition

Posted on March 22, 2017.

New film showcases the life-changing opportunities for artists excelling in the 2017 L'Atelier art competition

The power of the L'Atelier art competition to open doors for young, emerging artists and provide them with a platform to share their art with the world, is highlighted in a new short film on L'Atelier Merit Award winner, Collen Maswanganyi.

The 2017 L'Atelier competition is now open, and looking for other self-taught or professional African artists just like Collen who have a passion for contemporary visual arts.

Titled Mbatlo, the film traces Collen's love affair with wood material, and his deep desire to continue his family's legacy of sculpting wood using the traditional mbatlo tool.

"This is a tool used to carve and shape wood. But it’s not just any tool. It’s special. It has been handed down from one generation to another. It has allowed me, my father and my grandfather to not only shape wood, but shape the future of African artists," Collen tells viewers in the poignant film.

As the film moves through the significance of the mbatlo in Collen's work, it shows how this special tool has come to symbolise the Maswanganyi family as artists - Collen's father, Johannes Maswanganyi is an acclaimed South African sculptor who has exhibited both locally and internationally - and how it has given Collen himself a voice to express his views through his sculptures.

The inspiration for this expression is seen in the visual feast the film offers up; a buffet of snapshots of Collen's world that sees him marvelling at the unconventional beauty and 'madness' around him.

"I find inspiration all around me. I see beauty where others don’t, and bring this to life through every cut, scrape and scratch," Collen explains, as the viewer is taken on a visual journey through South Africa, from the hustle and bustle of the township where Collen lives, to the traffic and trampling feet of the city, and finally to the tranquillity of his family’s homestead where he sits on the banks of a still lake at dawn, carving his next piece.

More than just demonstrating how Collen is able to transform rough, cast-off wood into engaging sculptures with stories to tell, the film shows how Collen has been able to share his talent through the opportunities afforded to him by winning a L'Atelier Merit Award in 2010.

L'Atelier organisers are now calling on young artists across the continent to enter the L'Atelier 2017 art competition, which promises the winner and finalists' access to unparalleled exposure and opportunities to grow their careers both in South Africa and abroad.

The competition aims to nurture young talent, and serves as a platform for emerging artists to make their mark in the African art arena. As such it is open to young artists in the 10 African countries where Barclays Africa has a footprint, namely, South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles and, for the first time in 2017, Mozambique.

Artists can submit up to a maximum of three artworks, with works being physically delivered to collection points for initial adjudication. Physical works will not be accepted at the collection points if artists have not completed their online registration.

Registration for L'Atelier is now open, and can be completed online on the L'Atelier competition website.

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