The 7th November 2012 was a night to celebrate for 50 year-old Zyma Amien as she emerged victorious at the 2012 annual PPC Cement Young Concrete Sculptor Awards (YCSA).
Her artwork titled, 'The day they came for our house' captivated the art competition judges, naming her the overall winner of R50 000 and crowned 'Best Fine Art Sculpture on Exhibition'.
Amien's winning artwork explores the displacement of her grandfather - who was twice forcefully removed by the Group Areas Act and his struggle to maintain personal and community identity. A Visual Arts student and a former Medical Technologist, her artwork is also a visual commentary on the threat to disperse Coloureds out of Cape Town. The judges report states, "Her use of concrete is delicate and ethereal, but obliquely alludes to the building materials required to construct a home."
The Fine Arts runner-up of R25 000, was Pretoria-based Zelda Stroud, for her sculpture titled, 'Breast Plate'. The artwork expressed Stroud's interest in the social and economic manipulation of individuals, especially women, by media and peer pressure. Merit Awards to the value of R5 000 went to the 2009 YCSA runner-up, Lwandiso Njara, for his artwork titled, 'Transformation of identity' and Ncedani Fobo for 'Rhino poaching'.
The PPC Cement's YCSA remains a platform for emerging artists to bring their vision to life through the medium of concrete. An indication of the competition's growth was the introduction of the Functional Art category this year, where artists had to create a piece with practical use beyond its own aesthetical appeal. The art competition started as one of PPC Ltd's centenary celebrations 21 years ago, in partnership with the Association of Arts Pretoria and is the longest running competition of its kind in the country.
Aligning with the 2012 competition theme, Reimagine Concrete, Evert van Engelenhoven, a jeweller and architectural model maker, designed a creative concrete and silver ring which entitled him to the first 'Best Functional Art on Exhibition', receiving R15 000. His artwork, 'A little world with big possibilities' showcased an artwork that was both aesthetically pleasing while the construction allowed it to be wearable as a functional art. A Certificate of Recognition was awarded to Vusie Sithole for his beautifully crafted bracelet. Other functional art pieces included earrings, necklaces, and furniture amongst others.
Kay Potts, sculptor and National Chairperson of PPC Cement YCSA said, "The quality of artworks improve each year and this year was one of the most successful competitions due to the creative works received. When judging the artworks, we looked for works that demonstrated technical excellence, aesthetic appeal and conceptual strength."
Also a first for the competition was the Fans' Favourite Award, which went to Liberty Battson for her Fine Art sculpture, 'Concrete on Canvas'. PPC's Facebook fans competition ran for over two weeks and requested fans to select their preferred PPC Cement YCSA winner. Battson's artwork consisted of three blank concrete canvases reflecting space, which for Battson, lies in the eyes of the viewer.
The art competition continued to break records this year, as it received the most number of entrants in the history of the competition. Close to 100 sculptures were submitted from across the country and 29 finalists were selected – 21 Fine Art and eight Functional Art. This year, Stuttafords Van Lines have come on board as the transportation partner, making the competition more accessible for artists.
Richard Tomes, Customer Executive at PPC, said that the competition remains a core sponsorship to the cement company, as South Africa's emerging talent is unearthed. "The PPC Cement YCSA is truly a unique competition as it is the country's only major competition exclusively devoted to the art of sculpture using concrete. For over two decades it has remained a platform for up-and-coming artists to launch their careers as sculptors. On behalf of PPC, I would like to congratulate this year's winners. As competition sponsors, we continue to see how artists push the boundaries of concrete and showcase the versatility of concrete," he said.
This year, PPC also partnered with South African fashion icon, Suzaan Heyns, for her 2012 Spring/Summer Collection, launched at SA Fashion Week in March. In August 2012, Suzaan Heyns opened her new high-end store at the new Melrose Arch Shopping District. The new flagship store is a unique blend of art, design and fashion - it is testament to Suzaan Heyns' artistic vision, supported through her ongoing partnership with PPC. The collaboration between PPC and fashion showcases how innovation and creativity can create new frontiers for both industries.
"Launching the 2013 PPC YCSA competition themed Apply your Grey Matter, the possibilities of concrete is only limited by the individual's imagination. The theme is expected to raise the level of the competition and the calibre of competitors. We expect the very best that can be offered, both from the artists and the use of concrete," concluded Tomes.
The PPC Cement's YCSA exhibition runs from 8 to 20 November 2012 at the Association of Arts Pretoria, 173 Mackie Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk. The gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday from 09:00 to 18:00 and Saturdays from 09:00 to 14:00. Kay Potts will conduct a walkabout on Saturday, 17th November 2012 at 11:00.
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