Concrete surrounds us. It's in the walls that line our homes, the walls that protect us and the pillars that hold the roof above our heads. But could cement be used to create works of Fine Art? Donovan Leach, PPC Technical Advisor and Judge, believes that the PPC Young Sculptor Awards can help blur the lines between Fine Art and the functionality of concrete. The awards took place on Wednesday 7 November 2012 at the Association of Arts Pretoria.
This year's theme, Re-imagine Concrete, saw a strong variety of entries that surrounded themes of identity and turned towards personal issues internally according to Kay Potts, sculptor and National Chairperson of PPC Cement YCSA. "When judging the artworks, we looked for works that demonstrated technical excellence, aesthetic appeal and conceptual strength," she said. Potts stated that the works were creative and explored various issues such as land reform and rhino poaching but with an inherently internal personal touch.
Best Sculpture on exhibition: Zyma Amien, The day they came for our house
Best Sculpture on exhibition winner Zyma Amien's piece, The day they came for our house, surrounds her own family’s personal struggles through two forced removals during apartheid’s Group Areas Act. The carefully crafted installation comprises of five concrete fezzes (moulded from her grandfather's own) suspended over the negative spaces of the concrete floor piece that "obliquely alludes to the building materials required to construct a home." The 50-year-old UNISA Final year student says the personal iconography of the piece forms part of her own identity such as the the parquet flooring embroidery pattern reminiscent of the house her grandfather used to own. She believes the personal struggles her family went through is relevant to many South Africans today where people are still being displaced from their homes in various informal settlements throughout the country.
Fine Art Sculpture Runner-up, Zelda Stroud, Breast Plate
The Fine Art Sculpture Runner-up, “Breast Plate” by Zelda Stroud is a technically superior a chain-mail breastplate comprising of small concrete breasts precisely linked together by silver links. Stroud’s piece provides a “scathing commentary on the manipulation of women to achieve an impossible degree of perfection” according to the judges. Merit Awards went to the 2009 YCSA runner-up, Lwandiso Njara, for his artwork titled, Transformation of identity and Ncedani Fobo for Rhino poaching. Njara's sculpture sees his own personal reflection back to his home town in the rural Eastern Cape. The piece blends his African traditions of slaughtering and his Western Catholic schooling creating a form of Xhosa hybridization that he lives in today.
Merit Award: Lwandiso Njara, Transformation of identity
This year’s competition continued to break records as it received the most number of entrants in the history of the competition. Close to 100 sculptures were submitted from across the country and 29 finalists were selected - 21 Fine Art and eight Functional Art. The addition of the Fans’ Favourite Award where PPC ran a competition on its Facebook page, requesting fans select their preferred YCSA winner by way of 'Likes' on the 'chosen artist'. The winner of this category was Pretoria-based Liberty Battson
Fans' Favourite Award: Liberty Battson, Concrete on Canvas
This year saw the introduction of the Functional Art category where artists were asked to create works that are practical and functional as well as aesthetically appealing. Leach admired this year's entries with their attention to detail, quality and smooth finishes of concrete. He stated that the lightweight attributes of concrete can help change the mediums used by fine artists to include a wide range of possibilities. The Best Functional Artwork was won by Evert van Engelhoven's A little world with big possibilities which transforms the mass produced material into a smoothly finished 'gemstone' cast into sterling silver. The jeweller and architectural model maker aims to to create a wearable concrete range of jewellery which will be as simple and elegant as his winning piece.
Best Functional Artwork: Evert van Engelhoven, A world with big possibilities
The 2013 PPC YCSA competition themed Apply your Grey Matter, the possibilities of concrete is only limited by the individual’s imagination was also launched at the awards ceremony. The PPC Cement's YCSA exhibition runs from 8 to 20 November 2012 at the Association of Arts Pretoria.
Images courtesy of PPC and Arts Association of Pretoria