South Africa has no shortage of talent! This was clearly demonstrated by the unique pieces which were entered into the fifth annual Innibos National Craft Awards competition.
No less than 2000 entries were received for the competition with a first prize tag of R50 000. Morgan Mahape took first place with his self-portrait ‘curtain’ titled Lebua. “The portrait was inspired by nature, where vegetation is a symbol of life and development, and the connection of human beings and nature, as a host, which we can’t exist without.
The artwork is a representation of owning a space in modern times. It challenges the ideas of surviving in the world without my own space,” says Mahape. Gari Louridas was placed second and won R20 000 with her stained porcelain knitted vessels, with gold lustre. Third place was jointly won by Mari Claase, with her ‘Fynbos Garden’ and Sibusiso Mlangeni, with his recycled bullet cartridges, who will share the R15 000 cash prize.
“I tried to portray my immediate surroundings at the foothills of the beautiful Brandwag mountains in the Boland. Different species of proteas and other flowers; sunbirds; the old oak tree, with spiderwebs and butterflies; and a ladybird and worm nibbling on juicy leaves all form part of a delicate balance of an undisturbed area in nature where I live,” says Claase.
Organiser of the awards, John-Anthony Boerma from ArtAid Africa says: “While it would have been wonderful to have so many talented crafters gathered in one spot, we are delighted that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we have yet again been able to showcase their extraordinary talent.”
“We have curated a stunning online exhibition of the 63 best entries, which include functional and decorative pieces. The works exhibited capture the diversity of South Africa and her people,” adds Jan Bhuda from ArtAid Africa. A highlight of this year’s awards was the presentation of the Lifetime Achiever Award for Excellence in Craft that was bestowed on the globally renowned Ndebele painter, Dr Esther Mahlangu, who is considered a national treasure.
“The Lifetime Achiever Award for Excellence in Craft commemorates Dr Mahlangu’s immense contribution to art, culture and entrepreneurship in South Africa, and the DSAC and the Innibos National Craft Awards are honoured to bestow this award on her,” says Joseph Mathe, the Deputy Director: Craft Development at the National Department of Arts and Culture.
“We are awed by the heights to which you have taken traditional Ndebele art and the international recognition you have achieved. Your success has spurred on generations of crafters to reimagine their own possibilities and for that, we salute you,” he adds.
As a token of appreciation for everything Mahlangu has done to elevate the craft industry in South Africa, she was honoured with a R20 000 cash award.
Four categories of the awards were aimed specifically at those people who aim to commercialise their work.
• Corporate gifts – items that can be branded for clients: Thulani Tshabalala won this category with his metal sheet bookends.
• Beadwork (traditional or innovative): Woza Moyo took the prize with Green Goddess, made by over 70 crafters from handmade individual flowers.
• Recycled materials (primarily made from recycled/found materials): This category was won by John Bauer, with his recycled tiles. Bauer’s matchbox-sized tiles have all been made to upcycle old artifacts into beautiful pieces of art. He uses coins, doilies, wood-carved boxes, and textures found in nature; and the skeletons/fossils of dead animals that he finds, to preserve them for future generations to behold.
This large artwork, ‘Time Throughout The Ages’, has history and culture staring the viewer in the face, in a beautiful harmony of colour and texture. All his work uses a recycling of clay offcuts, textures found all over the city or natural landscapes, unwanted chemicals, and colours that people send to him as they no longer have use for them, and yellow paper, which are used in his process, that he finds at the dump.