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After weeks of rigorously judging each of the more than 300 entries received for the mzansiart@Venice young artists competition, the winners have been announced by the organisers of the South African Pavilion 2022.

The competition was organised as part of the national activities around South Africa’s participation at Biennale Arte 2022 in Venice, Italy. The aim of the competition was to allow budding artists across the country to share the passion and excitement that accompanies each Biennale, and to foster a love for the arts among the younger generation. Entry was open to all school learners in South Africa. The competition was based on the Biennale Arte 2022 theme ‘The Milk of Dreams’, and tasked entrants with crafting a depiction of their imaginary or fantasy world.

Tamlyn Martin, Cognitive Dissonance. Courtesy of the South African Pavilion.

The first prize winner is Ms. Tamlyn Martin (16), a Grade 10 learner from St. Stithian’s Girls College in Johannesburg, for her work titled ‘Cognitive Dissonance’. In this surrealist artwork, Tamlyn depicts different facets of her personality through four fantasy figures – a juggler, a child, a stained glass figure and a knight. She wins the first prize of R5000, along with a donation of R15,000 worth of art supplies to her school.

Cathrine Nagel, Perspective. Courtesy of the South African Pavilion.

Second prize goes to Ms. Cathrine Nagel (16), a Grade 11 learner from Leeuwenhof Akademie in Germiston, for her work ‘Perspective’. She portrays herself as a multi-eyed figure set against the backdrop of a square vortex that signifies the boundary between consciousness and sleep. Cathrine earns the runner-up prize of R3000, with a donation of R10,000 worth of art supplies to her school.

Londiwe Makhubelo, Through Our Eyes. Courtesy of the South African Pavilion.

The third prize-winner is Ms. Londiwe Makhubelo (17), a Grade 11 learner at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, for her work titled ‘Through Our Eyes’. This coloured pencil sketch features a pair of freckled sisters, with the closely-cropped composition drawing the viewer’s focus towards the sisters’ eyes. Londiwe earns the final prize of R2000, with a donation of R8000 of art supplies for her school.

The three prize-winners were selected from a shortlist of fourteen finalists from around the country, all of whom submitted artworks that were highly commended by the judges. Prizes are sponsored by Akwethu Engineering and Development.

Blind judging was applied, in which judges received only images of the submitted artworks and the description or motivation as provided by the entrant. Judges did not have access to the names, ages, schools, gender or any other biographical details provided by entrants. Entries were judged on artistic merit and alignment with ‘The Milk of Dreams’, the theme for Biennale Arte 2022.

The panel of five expert judges was chaired by Mr. Vuyisile Mshudulu, the Director or Arts, Culture and Heritage for the City of Johannesburg. The other judges were:

  • Ms. Masana Chikeka, the Director: Visual Arts and Design at DSAC.
  • Ms. Nonto Sheryl Msomi, the Project Manager for the Art Bank of South Africa.
  • Ms. Susan Neethling, an Art teacher at King Edward VII High School in Johannesburg.
  • Mr. Lawrence Lemaoana, an award-winning visual artist and arts lecturer.

“We were deeply moved, not just by the caliber of work presented but also by the vivid richness of the artists’ imagination,” notes Mr. Vusumuzi Mkhize, the Director General (DG) of DSAC. “The learners clearly put a great deal of thought, time and effort into their artworks. The results are truly ‘The Milk of Dreams’, and reaffirm the depth of artistic talent to be found throughout South Africa,” concludes DG Mkhize.

“The SA Pavilion organisers will be keeping track of these talented young artists as they develop their careers,” adds Ms. Grace Rapholo, Project Manager for the SA Pavilion 2022. “We hope to see them exhibiting locally and even internationally in the near future.”

Reproductions of the three winning artworks will be placed on display at the South African Pavilion at Biennale Arte 2022, until the closing ceremony on 27 November. Details of the winning artworks and the other eleven finalists are available on the SA Pavilion 2022 webpage. The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is the lead partner and main sponsor of South Africa’s participation at Biennale Arte 2022.

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