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PPC Cement Enhances the Lives of Young Sculptors

The talent and lives of six of South Africa’s promising young sculptors received a major boost last night when they shared the R75 000 prize money on offer at this year’s PPC Young Concrete Sculptors Awards, held at the Association of Arts in Pretoria. 

The annual competition sponsored by PPC Cement for the past 16 years is fast becoming a must-enter competition for up-and-coming sculptors.  The competition attracted 67 entries this year – more than double the number in the previous year.

The award for Best Sculpture on Exhibition went to Ruhan Janse van Vuuren for his work “Act I, Scene II”, while the award for Technical Excellence was won by Dorothea Nortjé for her work “Memorial to the Entrapped Mind”.  Each of these artists received R25 000,00. 

Runner up in the Best Sculpture on Exhibition category was Molemo Moiloa for her work, “Concrete Truth”, while the Technical Excellence runner up was Estie Nell with her work “Jas”. Both these artists received R10 000,00.

Merit awards of R2 500,00 each went to Brendon Erasmus for “Upper Abyssal Jaw”, and Pieter Cilliers for “Tilted Shelves 2007 – 2008”

The 2008 PPC Young Concrete Sculptors Awards exhibition can be viewed at the Association of Arts Pretoria, 173 Mackie Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, until 19 November 2008.

The panel of judges consisting of Kay Potts, American sculptor; Mmutle Arthur Kgokong, Cultural Officer for the City of Tshwane; Pieter Swanepoel, Fine Arts lecturer at the University of Pretoria; Cobus Haupt, a well-known Pretoria sculptor and 1999 runner-up in the competition and Steve Crosswell, Technical advisor of PPC, commended the incredible talent and technical skills of the young artists. 

The judges were very pleased with the number of entries submitted for the photographic jury,” said Awards Committee Chairperson, Kay Potts. “The variety of concepts, styles and technical skills made arriving at consensus on the winners daunting. The material we received was both thought provoking and challenging,” she said.

Dr Orrie Fenn, PPC’s Chief Operating Officer said: “We are proud of our long association with the PPC Young Concrete Sculptors Awards and its celebration of the rich and varied artistic talent in South Africa, and honoured to be sponsoring a competition of this magnitude that has benefited so many young aspiring artists over the last sixteen years.”   

Nomzamo Basson, PPC Public Relations Manager added that “the fact that our product cement is used as a medium of sculpting underlines our commitment to nation building and our contribution to South Africa’s heritage.” 

Pieter van Heerden, Director of the Association of Arts Pretoria, concludes:

The PPC Competition is one of the yearly highlights of our Association, and it is always a tremendous pleasure to present this event.  The Pretoria Arts Association is grateful to be the chosen venue and partner in the PPC Young Concrete Sculptor Awards, which gives the opportunity for young artists to present their works to the public.  Many of our very prominent sculptors look back with pride at the start of their careers when they first participated in the PPC Competition.  This year’s success reflects the ongoing interest and importance of art in our communities.  We look forward to many more successful competitions and the launching of many more young artist’s careers. ”  

Awards Summary: 

Best Sculpture on Exhibition: 
Ruhan Janse van Vuuren - Act I, Scene II
This sculpture portrays two men mirroring each other’s poses over a silhouette of rubble and a body shaped concavity.  The judges felt that this piece was technically well-executed and conceptually sound.  The use of multiple textures and finishes lends richness to the sculpture that reinforces its presence and concept.

Technical Excellence in Concrete Sculpture: 
Dorothea Nortjé - Memorial to the Entrapped Mind
The premise of the sculpture uses the traditional Jack-in-the-box as a metaphor for the human mind.  The sculpture is well made, each surface has been attended to and the weight of the head is easily supported.  The judges were impressed with the finishes and the technical knowledge required in canting the mass of the head at an awkward angle with no signs of stress or fatigue.

Runner-up:  Best Sculpture on Exhibition
Molemo Moiloa - Concrete Truth
This is a triptych of panels which lies on the ground.  The piece is a mixed media containing coal and thatch grass.  The innovative mix of materials supports the strong environmental concept of the sculpture. The message implies a sacred trust with the land and the elements and makes a point about renewable resources.  The judges were pleased to see a skilful use of mixed media for a relevant concept.

Runner-up:  Technical Excellence in Concrete Sculpture
Estie Nell - Jas
This sculpture of an empty coat occupying a chair evokes haunting images of the person who is supposed to be wearing the garment.  The surfaces are considered and the thin casting of the jacket is well done.  The judges felt that the mixed media utilized was capably handled and the overall technical aspects were well done.

Merit:  Best Sculpture on Exhibition
Brendon Erasmus - Upper Abyssal Jaw
This is a concrete-impregnated, steel armature that is supported by a steel frame that gives the illusion of hovering.  This sculpture reflects the nature of the earth and its place in the universe.  It is technically well executed and attention has been given to each surface. The conceptual message of the piece is strengthened by the forms and stalactite appendages.

Merit:  Technical Excellence in Concrete Sculpture
Pieter Cilliers - Tilted Shelves 2007 - 2008    
This sculpture consists of two functional objects made dysfunctional. The minimalistic approach and use of clean lines set to tension leaves a quietly unsettled atmosphere.  The sculpture is well cast and supports itself at a seemingly gravity-defying angle.  The judges concur that the visual and physical stresses of the sculpture deserve merit.

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