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Rivalry to revelry: Art competitions in 2015

Posted on January 23, 2015.

Young artists from around South Africa contend for various prestigious art competitions hoping to launch their art careers. South Africa boasts a number of art competitions for both young and emerging artists offering the opportunity to expand their horizons through prizes including international residencies and mentorships. Artcoza takes a look at what 2015 art competitions have to offer.

SA Taxi Foundation Art Award

As a moving public art project, the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award aims to not only provide support to emerging artists but to take art to the audiences of South Africa. While so many other worthy initiatives are trying to pull audiences into niche locations such as galleries and museums this project takes the art to where the audiences are.

Artists are invited create artworks that will become a emblem that will cover an entire taxi. “In this way they use their own work as a brief for a further public artwork designed around specific parameters,” explains Project Manager Teresa Lizamore. “The adjudicators will look at both the original artwork and the success of the interpreted design in their selection of finalists and winners. This is a critical and pragmatic element since many artists and creatives find employment through commissioned work and in agencies where interpretation of a client’s brief is fundamental."

Six finalists' designs will be converted into taxi decals for 10 taxi's each (60 in total) and each winner will have their work exposed to hundreds of thousands of commuters on key routes for a period of a year. Aligned to this a further public and social campaign will target the commuters directly through poster giveaways and other marketing initiatives using the channels available both inside the taxi’s and via social media.

The winner will receive R 50 000 prize money, while five runners-up will each receive R 10 000. A selection of 20 semi-finalists works, selected by a judging panel will be exhibited at a curated in April 2015 at Lizamore & Associates gallery in Johannesburg. A catalogue and significant publicity efforts will accompany this curated gallery exhibition.

Artists eligible to enter are South African citizen or residents (i.e. legally living and working in South Africa) older than 21 years, who have not had a solo exhibition at a commercial contemporary gallery in South Africa. Closing date for entries extended to 13 February 2015

For more information or to enter, visit

Sanlam Portrait Award 2015

Sanlam Private Investments, in collaboration with Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery, Durbanville, presents the second Sanlam Portrait Award 2015. Iniatiated in 2013, the national award celebrates and showcases the best original portrait artwork in South Africa.

This annual competition gives top local artists the opportunity to get invaluable exposure – the top 40 entries are displayed at exhibitions throughout South Africa – and the winner walks away with R100 000. The first Sanlam Portrait Award, held in 2013, attracted a staggering 1 783 entries. KwaZulu-Natal artist Heather Gourlay-Conyngham walked off with the top prize for her nude male portrait entitled A Young Man

The competition is open to artists of 18 years and older who are residents of South Africa. Work entered should be based on a sitting, or study from life, and the human figure must predominate. No sculptures, photographs and works created using software or other digital means will be eligible. All works will be judged anonymously by a panel of three independent judges. They will identify the winning portrait and select 39 other entries to tour the country as part of an exclusive exhibition. The panel will be convened by Stefan Hundt, head of the Sanlam Private Wealth art advisory service and curator of the Sanlam Art Collection

The entry dates for the 2015 Portrait Awards is 13 - 23 July 2015. The name of the overall winner will be announced at a gala event to be held at the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery on 27 August 2015.

For more information, visit

Ernest Cole Award

The Ernest Cole Photographic Award was initiated under the auspices of the University of Cape Town, and offers a unique opportunity for photographers to complete an existing project. The award, named after documentary photographer Ernest Cole, has been made possible by the generous support of the Peter Brown, Gavin Relly Educational and Kirsh Family Trusts, ORMS, and the John Liebenberg Hip Op Fund.

The winning photographer will receive R150 000 with which to complete the project, have an exhibition and publish a book thereof. The Ernest Cole Photographic Award has been established to stimulate creative work in photography in South Africa.

The competition is open to anyone whose work focuses on South African society, with preference being given to people living within the country. The purpose of the Award is to support the realisation of a significant body of work that the photographer has been engaged with. Applications need to be in by 12 June 2015.

Visit for submission guidelines and information.

Reinhold Cassirer Award

The Reinhold Cassirer award, funded by Nadine Gordimer and Strauss & Co, offers an emerging South African artist, in the field of drawing or painting, under the age of 35 the opportunity to spend a period of approximately 10 weeks at the Bag Factory’s studios in Johannesburg. The award takes place annually and usually is awarded during March / April.

The award provides the recipient with the opportunity to interact with the established artists resident at the Bag Factory and consequentially offers the opportunity for an expanded professional network and a greater understanding of art in Johannesburg and in South Africa. The winner receives possible studio space at the Bag Factory, contributions to travel and living expenses, artist and exhibition marketing and networking

For more information, visit

L'Atelier 2015 Art Competition

South Africa's most prestigious art competition, L'Atelier, has for the first time in its 30-year history invited young and emerging artists from Botswana, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya to enter the 2015 competition.

Originally known as the Volkskas Bank Atelier Competition, it was later absorbed as part of Absa’s portfolio of events after the merging of the founding brands of Absa (then known as Amalgamated Banks of South Africa) in 1998. From 1999 until 2001, the competition was known as the Absa Atelier Competition, and in 2002 it changed its name to Absa L’Atelier. In 2015, the competition – now one of the longest running events of its kind in Africa – enters another new chapter as it becomes part of the Barclays Africa fold, following the acquisition by Barclays of a majority share in Absa to form Barclays Africa Group in 2013. The competition is now known as L’Atelier.

All young artists aged 21 to 35 residing in South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia and Kenya are invited to enter the 2015 competition. Five coveted art residency prizes are awarded to the winners, including a six month main prize at the Cité Internationale des Arts, three merit residency award prizes and the Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising artist which includes a three month main prize at the Cité Internationale des Arts, sponsored by The Alliance Française, the French Institute and the French Embassy.

Online entries for the competition are open from 12 January 2015 - 6 March 2015. Once artists have completed their online entry form, artists can either personally deliver or courier their artworks to their nearest collection point. Collection points are open from 2 - 6 March 2015. All entry points close at 16:00 on Friday, 6 March 2015 and no late entries will be accepted.

For more information, artists can phone 011 350 3003 or visit

Lovell Tranyr Art Trophy

The Lovell Gallery, in partnership with Tranyr, global specialist in art Logistics, present the Lovell Tranyr Art Trophy, an annual artist competition focusing on artist development and 'collectability'. The competition has been extended to include the rest of Africa, flourishing talented emerging African artists with support and recognition.

Working with a high-powered international jury of art experts, Lovell Gallery seeks to identify artists with latent potential. The support the Lovell Tranyr Art Trophy offers, is designed to make a meaningful contribution to an emerging artist’s career on many levels, including high quality exposure in solo and group shows as well as professional career development.

Finalists will exhibit at a curated group exhibition at Lovell Gallery in Cape Town. The winner receives a solo exhibition at Lovell Gallery alongside the following year’s group show, career development by Lovell Gallery for the year leading up to the winner’s solo show as well as special exposure in a group show in London during Frieze Art Week. Applications in any visual arts medium, 2 or 3 dimensional, are welcome, provided the artist presents a cohesive body of at least 5 original artworks of the same style or concept.

For more information, detailed competition rules or an entry form contact Brendon at or visit

Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Award

One of South Africa's oldest national fine art awards, The Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Award is presented in August/September to correspond with the month in which Thami Mnyele's remains were re-buried in Tembisa, South Africa. Mnyele was a freedom fighter who used art as a tool of expression during the struggle for liberation. He died while exiled in Botswana in 1985.

The competition is open to artists of all ages and categories include multimedia and new media, painting, art on paper and sculpture. Previous winners include 2012 winner Lwandiso Njara and 2011 winner Jenna Burchell.

Prizes include a R40 000 first prize, a R30 000 Ekurhuleni prize and four R7 500 merit award prizes. Lizamore & Associates will also award a mentorship programme solo exhibition to the most deserving merit award winner. The prize winners will be announced on 26 September 2015 at the Coen Scholtz Recreation Centre in Kempton Park.

Submissions of entries are open until 18 - 20 August 2015. Contact Tshidiso Makhetha on 011 999 4474/4286 or for more information.

Art Lovers Art Competition 2015

Longstreet Art Lovers 1932 Pretoria presents their 2015 art competition with a total of R51 000 to be won. The competition aims to search for artworks with technical excellence in order to satisfy the growing need from art lovers and collectors for works that reflect a balance of skills and concept.

The judges, consisting of Diane Victor, Carl Jeppe and Loeritha Saayman will focus on the application of technical skills in the chosen medium, works that are aesthetically pleasing and of a high quality and standard. Although concept is important and works must be contemporary of nature, technical excellence in executing the work is critical.

The winner adjudicated by the judging panel will receive a R17 500 first prize, with the runner-up receiving R10 000. An additional prize of R12 500 will be adjudicated by the visitors to the gallery. A prize of R5 000 will be awarded to the work with the most merit, submitted by an artist under 25. Three merit awards of R 2 000 will also be awarded. All prize money is sponsored by Nico Smit and Werner Burger.

Deadline for entries is 19 March 2015. Entry forms, with detailed conditions of entry and requirements can be obtained from the gallery or on email request to

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