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BRETT KEBBLE ART AWARDS (article first published : 2003-06-20)

Brett Kebble has been an enthusiastic art collector since he bought a small painting to celebrate his first paycheck and over the years has acquired a significant collection of South African art.

collection and talking about the burst of creativity that saw many of his favourite artists on to the art scene in the latter part of the 20th century. “I believe a vibrant art scene enriches the quality of life immeasurably for all South Africans,” he said. “I suddenly thought how wonderful it would be if I could somehow assist South African artists living in the 21st century to flower as magnificently as the Irma Sterns and Maggie Laubsers did in the 20th.

“I remembered that the Cape Town triennial was a wonderful showcase for South African artists before it collapsed and I, then and there, decided to create my own art awards. South Africa has wonderful artists but they are often, sadly, unrecognised and I thought if I could help with substantial awards it would provide a showcase for established artists and help those less known attain recognition. I thought this could be a way in which art will help us build a non-racial bridge into the 21st century.”

The result is the Brett Kebble Art Awards. Any artist over 21 living and working in South Africa may submit works in the disciplines of painting and mixed media, sculpture, craft, photography, print making and new media. “I tried hard to avoid giving the awards the flavour of a competition,” said Brett. “What I am trying to achieve is an annual showcase of the finest art from a variety of disciplines. The reason for the large awards, in the hope of perhaps finding a way to finance emerging artists, is to give even well-known high-priced artists an incentive to submit their work.”

One submission will receive R100,000, additionally one artist from each remaining discipline will receive R30,000.

Brett said he was well aware that his inclusion of craft as fine art might cause controversy. “In the art world there is an intense debate between those who say that craft can be fine art and those who believe the opposite. I have to nail my colours to the mast. I believe that craft can be art and that for too long African craft artists have been neglected. If the Brett Kebble Art Awards plays a role in helping to develop African artists who work in craft then I will be a very happy man.”

The Brett Kebble Art Awards will be based in Cape Town. “Most art awards are based in Johannesburg but we have an office in Cape Town and thought this would also be an opportunity to add to the cultural life of the city,” he said.

The awards will culminate in an exhibition to be held in Cape Town late September 2003 and will be judged by Lucia Burger, Julia Meintjes, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Penny Siopis. The curator of the Brett Kebble Art Awards will be well-known painter Richard Smith.

Submission forms with full terms and conditions are available from the organisers on 021 710 1712, or via e-mail at art@barritt.co.za or from http://www.artslink.co.za/bkaa

Among the judges is Durban-born Zwelethu Mthethwa who is considered one of South Africa’s leading artists.




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