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BRETT KEBBLE ART AWARDS (article first published : 2004-07-25)

In June, selectors for the second annual Brett Kebble Art Awards (BKAA) visited Durban as part of a country-wide road-show to decide which of the works submitted for consideration will be eligible for the country’s premier art award. Of the more than1,830 works received, 161 entries were from local artists eager to emulate the success of fellow KZN artists Josephine Ghesa, from the Ardmore Studios near Mooi River, and Lobolile Ximba, a traditional craftswoman from Msinga, both of whom took top honours last year in the sculpture and craft categories respectively.

According to Carol Brown, the Director of the Durban Art Gallery which served as one of the drop-off point for submissions for this year’s Kebble, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t: "The work that’s been submitted is generally of a very high standard but what stands out for me, are the craft entries. We have received some outstanding examples of traditional KZN craft, notably beadwork and ceramics," she said.

The task of selecting the potential winners falls to Clive van den Berg, curator of the Brett Kebble Art Awards, and fellow art professionals, Julia Charlton (curator of the Wits Art Galleries) and Churchill Madikida (artist and curator of the Constitution Hill Collection). Assisting the selectors will be Khwezi Gule, the recipient of the first BKAA curatorial fellowship, and BKAA co-curator, Claire Breukel.

Those art works selected will be transported to Cape Town to take part in one of the biggest exhibitions of contemporary art ever seen in South Africa.

Once the works have been selected and mounted on the exhibition, it will fall to the judges (painter/photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa, Professor Penny Siopis, head of Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, artist and lecturer Frank Ledimo, art advisor Julia Meintjes and art patron Lucia Burger) to select the recipients of the awards. Six top works will each receive R60,000, whilst one exceptional work will earn its creator R200,000. In addition there will be merit awards of R10,000 to be allocated by the judges at their discretion.

"We feel this panel represents a vast and diverse pool of expertise and aesthetic sensibilities that make them highly qualified to judge the submissions fairly, and assist us in realising our vision to recognise art of the highest aesthetic, formal and conceptual integrity," says Clive van den Berg.

The Awards will profile works entered in six categories; craft – both traditional and contemporary, new media and installation, painting and mixed media, printmaking and photography. According to Clive van den Berg, the categories merely serve as a guideline to artists, but the seven Awards and additional merit Awards will not be made in particular categories. Artists work may straddle any and all categories, and no size or scale restrictions have been placed on entries.

"We will create an exhibition space in one of the Exhibition Halls of the Cape Town Convention Centre that is custom designed for the selected artworks, " says van den Berg, " As a result of this the selectors and judges hope to be faced with the unexpected. We want artists to chart new emotional and physical territory and break stereotypes."




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