SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
July 2014
Winners of the 2014 Absa L'Atelier-SANAVA art competition announced

The winners of the 2014 Absa L'Atelier-SANAVA art competition were announced in Johannesburg last night.

Pretoria's Liberty Battson took the overall award and main prize for her diptych, Odds of an artist like me.

Mbavhalelo Nekhavhambe from Thohoyandou was awarded the Gerard Sekoto award, sponsored by the French Embassy and the Alliance Française in South Africa, for the most promising artist with an annual income less than R60 000 for his video installation, Press Accident.

The two merit award winners were Johannesburg's Bevan de Wet, who was awarded for his etching and relief entitled Decorus in Gryphus II, and Durban's Luyanda Zindela, recognised for his photographic print Umkhumbi wakaMedusa.

And the winners are... From left - Merit award winner Luyanda Zindela, Absa Art Curator Dr Paul Bayliss, overall winner Liberty Battson, Gerard Sekoto winner Mbavhalelo Nekhavhambe (back), President of SANAVA Dirkie Offringa and merit award winner Bevan de Wet.
As part of her prize, Battson won R150 000 from Absa, a return air ticket to Paris and a six months residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Nekhavhambe won a return air ticket to Paris and three months' stay in the Cité Internationale des Arts, sponsored by Alliance Française in South Africa and the French Embassy. For both prizes, the residency apartments are made available by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA).

The two merit award winners each also receive a residency prize. De Wet won a two months' stay at the Sylt Foundation in Germany. Zindela won a one month's stay at the Ampersand Foundation in New York. As part of the prize, Zindela also becomes a Fellow of the Ampersand Foundation.

Aside from these four winners, the remaining top ten artists recognised for excellence this year were Franli Meintjes for Runaway Greed, Helena de Waal for Underlying Unity, Justin Dingwall for Mary I, Kirstie Nel for Things South Africans Say & Things Americans Say, Nicole Rowe for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome and Leanne Shakenovsky for Perfect Family I, II, III.

Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator, says a number of the submissions tapped into the theme of Absa's creative campaign for this year's contest – that of Great Art takes Blood, Sweat and Tears.

"The theme proposes that great art is not something that just happens, it is a conscious process that sees the artist putting pieces of themselves into their work through the intense effort, dedication and raw emotion it takes to bring an artistic concept to life.

"We believe if young, emerging and aspiring artists put all of this into their work, they too will prosper. Although created as a guiding ethos to this year's event, many artists took this message to heart and explored what great art meant to them. The result was a glimpse into the inspiration igniting our young artists' creativity today."

Dirkie Offringa, President of SANAVA says the competition has once again proven its worth as the biggest in South Africa.

"Both in terms of exposure and experience for young artists, the competition constantly raises the bar. Apart from the financial advantage offered, the opportunity for the winners to spend time at three international destinations is priceless. This is proof of the benefit of organisations like Absa and SANAVA pooling their expertise and resources to the benefit of artists."

The Absa L'Atelier Art Competition is in its 29th year and is hosted in partnership with SANAVA. It is regarded as Africa's most influential art competition. It specifically targets established and emerging young artists to showcase their diverse talents and fast-tracks the careers of the winners by exposing them to international opportunities.

The competition is open to young artists aged 21 to 35 and attracts entries from across the country, which is open to public viewing during the regional adjudication rounds.

An exhibition of the top 100 works is on public display from 17 July to 21 August at the Absa Gallery, Upper Ground Level, Absa Towers North, 161 Main Street, Johannesburg. Members of the public are requested to bring their ID books along for parking and entrance purposes.

About the winning works

Battson's work, Odds of an artist like me, is a diptych which was created using 2K automotive paint, with the paints having acted as a bar graph. Each stripe represented a statistic which related to artists – more specifically, the odds of an artist like Battson. With the top of the canvas representing 0 percent and the bottom 100 percent, the viewer is able to decode the artwork through the legend supplied at the base of the artwork. Intrigued by the chances, the artist aimed to represent statistics in a novel way by juxtaposing trivial, humorous statistics with those that are more serious.

Nekhavhambe's video installation, Press Accident, explored the challenge faced by people who have to communicate in English when they are not proficient in the language. 'Can anybody play an important role in an organisation or institution even though one cannot communicate well in English? Does the ability to be able to express oneself in English or any other language that is foreign to one's culture mean that one is intelligent?' he asks. The video highlights the struggles many Africans face when attending meetings or interviews, as conversations are held in English.
Picnics in the courtyard at Cité (often ended at 3am!)
I made art, I made friends, I made memories

Fawa Conradie of Stellenbosch just returned from a three-month stint at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. He shared his experience with SANAVA Matters.

A great big thank you for the opportunity and privilege - it has been a life-changing experience.

I stayed at the Annex, studio 1731. When I arrived, the trees were just starting to bloom, so I saw the coming of spring and experienced summer.

Paris - what a city! The City of Lights did not disappoint. An incredible city with an abundance of culture, life, fun, romance and stimulation kept me enthralled for all three months. I became accustomed to expect the unexpected and enjoyed every Day of the Galleries (when all galleries were open until 24:00 and were FREE).

I experienced the Night of the Music (Fete de la Musique), a day and night when everybody who plays music was out on the streets with their musical instruments, bands on every corner, Parisians dancing in the updraught of the grids over the Metro lines. I experienced art fairs, pop-up exhibitions, sudden street marathons, thousands of motorbikes and markets popping up everywhere unexpectedly. My senses were treated to a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, smells and tastes. I painted, I sketched and I absorbed non-stop.

Cité – the studio was perfect, a bed and an empty space with trestle tables, an easel, and privacy when I needed it. The whole time I was aware of 300 other writers, painters, illustrators, designers and sculptors working around me. We met often and discussed cultures, art, languages, behaviours, prices, life. The best part about Cité is the location in du Marias, very central and next to the river Seine.

My advice to all visitors would be to get involved - join a picnic group, go to the Monday evening music recitals in the auditorium and have a glass of wine afterwards with all the other attendees. Everyone is looking for company and to meet people, so take initiative and invite people for a drink at your studio - they will reciprocate and soon you will be joining groups to markets, exhibitions and social events in other studios.

Book for a studio in advance. This motivates you and creates a deadline for which you have to produce works.

It has been the most productive three months of my life. I returned with lots of new work, new mediums and new energy to carry forward back home.

Visitors - It is nice when friends or family come visit, but it means the end of your creative, productive momentum. Even though they offer you your time and space, you will feel responsible and want to be a good host.


Walk a lot. This is when you discover the real Paris with all its textures, people and places. The metro is very efficient for longer distances and buses are a joy, but walking tens of kilometres on a day taught me more about Paris than only the well-known destinations ever could.

Travel outside of Paris as well. I took day trips to Giverny (where Claude Monet painted his famous lily ponds – they still exist exactly the beautiful same). I also did a day trip to Auvers Sur Oises where van Gogh lived the last (very productive) year of his life. I went to Fountainbleau for a forest walk and picnic. France is more than Paris only.

Budget. The Rand is so weak, so the experience is an expensive one for sure. Whilst food is generally expensive, wine, cheese, baguettes and great coffees are really actually cheaper than in South Africa! Bordeaux red wines from small supermarkets are readily available at below 3 Euro, good Camembert or Brie cheese at below 2 Euros, a great baguette will cost below 1 Euro and Lavazza ground coffees below 2 Euros for a 250g packet. Eating and drinking at a restaurant is going to be expensive for a South African.

Notes. Make notes or blog about your days there. It helps you absorb and make sense of your experiences. My blog that I kept can be seen at with my own photographs and illustrations accompanying the written pieces.

I feel blessed to have had this amazing experience and would really like to repeat the visit again one day.

Fawa Conradie, Stellenbosch,

The Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA) is organising the inaugural ART WEEK JOBURG in August.

It will coincide with this year's FNB Joburg Art Fair in Sandton and will take place in Alexandra, Braamfontein, Maboneng, Newtown, Rosebank and Soweto.

Ben Rootman of the secretariat and President Dirkie Offringa unveil the new SANAVA name board at the office in the Western Cape.
Building the SANAVA brand

SANAVA's adapted logo as approved at the Annual General Meeting in East London in June, has already been used successfully in the new electronic newsletter, SANAVA Matters.

The secretariat has already applied the logo on signage at its offices.

Following a decision at the Annual General Meeting, SANAVA branches and affiliates can now also apply for SANAVA signage at their offices.

For specifications and artwork contact the secretariat at 082 551 4853, e-mail

"The grant is a major boost for the North West economy" – Premier Mahumapelo.
Cash injection for North West arts sector

The arts and culture sector in the North West has received a boost in the form of a grant sponsorship worth over R19 million from the National Lotteries Board.

"The funding recognises arts, culture and tourism as the pillars of our economy on which our repositioning and renewal strategy should be anchored," said Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Lotteries Board, Charlotte Mampane said the board was confident that the grant would benefit young people and people with disabilities through targeted projects.

Projects include the Women's Liberation Monument, the Maftown Week celebration, the Sol Plaatjie exhibition, Taung Calabash, pottery for the disabled, a children's art competition and a wheelchair dancing project.
What is the Visual Arts Task Team doing?

SANAVA National President Dirkie Offringa reports on the workings of the Department of Arts and Culture's Visual Arts Task Team.

The development of a National Art Bank is being investigated. In fact, a report regarding the entity model for the proposed bank, including the issue of a zero percent purchasing scheme, has already been presented to the department and institutions are being considered to kick-start the project of acquisitions of work for an art bank which will rent and perhaps sell to institutions, private and public collections.

Although the Department of Arts and Culture is not involved in the capacity building of art museums funded by local government, it is looking at options to strengthen the acquisitions capacity of municipal art museums to attract, for example, external funding.

Art in schools has been mentioned in the national press. The department is supporting the development and implementation of artists-in-schools scheme. It is, for example, looking at training programmes and models.

The department wishes to support the representation of South African art and architecture in contemporary art events such as the Venice Biennale, on the continent and internationally.

There are a number of funding bodies for the arts sector and the department aims to promote greater coherence and efficiency in the funding system.

I will keep you posted on developments.
What is happening with art on the African continent?

Arterial Network is a dynamic, pan-African civil society network of artists, activists, organisations and institutions engaged in the African creative and cultural sectors.

Operating across 90 percent of Africa, Arterial Network is actively engaged in strengthening the creative sectors and utilising arts and culture to contribute towards sustainable development.

The network will hold a conference on 'the African creative economy' in Rabat, Morocco in November.
2nd international biennial of contemporary art of Argentina - you may exhibit

The second international biennial of contemporary art of Argentina takes place from 3 to 10 October at the Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires.

SANAVA is member of the International Association of Art and its members may participate in the categories of painting, sculpture, photography, engraving, drawing, installations, video art, ceramics, porcelain, digital art, textile art and handmade jewellery. The exhibition fee is US$500.

During the exhibition, a jury will choose and award prizes to the participating works of art and several seminars and workshops will be held by well-known international artists.

Artists shall be granted a 1,5 metre wide and 1,5 metre tall space where they will be able to exhibit one artwork not larger than 1,3 metres wide or as many pieces as they wish, provided they all fit in the space granted. Pictorial works of art shall have no frame and ink and aquarelle paintings shall have no glass (please replace with acetate).

All sculptures, provided it is not a special case, should be smaller than 0,5 x 0,5 and 1 metre tall.

All works of art to be exhibited will be received between 1 and 2 October. The official opening will be on 3 October.

Art works accepted for the exhibition will appear in the official exhibition catalogue, the IX Argentine Art Yearbook with International Artists, which is distributed in galleries, exhibitions and fairs around the world.

The closing date for registration is 31 July.

For more information contact or visit
SANAVA Matters talks to Jan van der Merwe

Yvonne Burns

We talk to Jan van der Merwe about his fascinating career as an installation artist and also provide some information about interesting up-and- coming exhibitions and other matters of interest.

Jan van der Merwe's life story makes for very interesting reading. He was born in 1958 in Virginia and grew up in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal. As a child his artistic creativity was encouraged by his parents - his mother's embroidery, his father's painting and the fascinating stories his grandmother told him of how she drew patterns with the hoof of a buck on the dung floor of their home. This environment no doubt set the scene for the development of his artistic talent!

Jan is known for his installations in which he uses "found objects" such as rusted tins. He openly admits that he collects tins from everybody and describes himself as a compulsive collector - one who takes all sorts of objects discarded by others to his studio. There he transforms them into his installations. Some of the tins he finds are already rusted, but if they are still new and shiny, he transforms them by initiating a rust process with a mixture of salt, water and vinegar.

He says the following of his work – "at present I work with artefacts of our time and attempt to transform them into archaeological remnants. The tin cans are ordinarily used for preservation. The fragile rusted tins in these works become metaphors for waste, loss and consumerism. Their use may be seen as an attempt to 'preserve' something transient and vulnerable."

Jan has been a practising artist for the past 38 years. He started off by lecturing in drawing and décor in the Department of Entertainment Technology at the Tshwane University of Technology. In 1999 he obtained a master's degree in Fine Art at the then Pretoria Technikon, now the Tshwane University of Technology. Interestingly, he has combined his academic work (his work is used as source material for secondary and tertiary students) with his artistic work. He has been an external examiner for the art departments of Unisa and the universities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Free State and North West and has also judged several art competitions, some of which were national competitions. He has been involved in workshops for mentally handicapped artists in Belgium and in South Africa since 2002. As a consequence of the contacts he has built up over the years, he has been able to procure opportunities for his students.

It is significant that Jan is listed as a recommended artist in the most recent Visual Arts Curriculum for high school learners - the textbook on Visual Art for Grade 12 includes a chapter on his art. Apart from his dissertations at the higher diploma and master's level, Jan has co-authored several academic articles which have been published.

In July 2013 the Oliewenhuis Art Museum Advisory Committee invited Jan as an outstanding South African installation artist, to present an exhibition to coincide with the annual Volksblad Vryfees arts festival. The exhibition featured prominent artworks from the last ten years of his career and attracted a diverse audience, ranging from school learners and students to elderly art lovers. An impressive number of visitors attended the exhibition - 14 690 people in total! Jan presented walkabouts on several occasions which were well attended by the public.

The Time and Space exhibition received a great deal of media attention, with the Kyknet team taking video clips of the exhibition. Jan was also interviewed by a number of television, radio and newspaper journalists.

All the exhibition areas available at Oliewenhuis Art Museum were used to house Jan's works. An installation entitled Ontwortel/Uprooted, consisting of seven separate structures made of the stumps of uprooted trees attached to pieces of furniture, was showcased on the ground floor of the main building. The installations It's Cold Outside and Confessional were displayed in the Dora Scott annex. The artworks Diagnose, Display and Red Cushion were installed on the ground floor of the main building. A number of installations were showcased in the Annex Gallery on the first floor of the main building, namely - Traveller, Cleaning Instructions, Bullet Proof Jacket, Water and Rust, Downfall and Power Failure.

The gigantic installation art work entitled The End was exhibited in the underground reservoir. This installation art work - probably Jan's largest to date - consists of 108 movie theatre chairs arranged in rows, between which the viewer can wander. The seats of the chairs represent film frames, each freezing a moment in time. Viewers undertake a sort of pilgrimage by walking along the rows. Sale, an installation in the form of a male clothing store, was also on show in the reservoir.

Jan's works, which are represented in a number of museums, public and corporate collections, have won many awards. The artwork Vertoonkas was awarded the prestigious Helgaard Steyn Award for sculpture in 2005. This artwork now forms part of Oliewenhuis Art Museum's permanent collection.

Jan has also received international recognition. For example, his works were selected as part of a group exhibition at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, which then moved to Athens for display at the Olympic Games in August 2004. In 2007 he worked in conjunction with the organisation 'Onze Nieuwe Toekomst' on an installation entitled Wereldreizigers in the "Kleurlaboratorium" of the S.M.A.K Museum in Ghent, Belgium in 2007.

He has worked abroad on invitation on several occasions – the most recent being in New York for a two month residency as the recipient of the Ampersand Award, administrated by the Ampersand Foundation. It is simply not possible to list all of Jan's nominations and awards but we have included a few to give you an indication of how prolific an artist he is!


1982: New Signatures, SA Association of Art, Pretoria, First prize: mixed media (van Schaik Merit prize: painting (Arts Association award)
1998: Kempton park/Tembisa Fine Art Award, second prize
1999: Sasol Scifest 99, first prize, trip to Paris, sponsored by the French Embassy, Institute for Research Development , Grahamstown. Competition theme: Art and Technology
2000: Kempton Park/Tembisa Fine Art Award, second prize
2002: Chief Festival Artist, Hadeda Art Festival, Tzaneen
2003: Chief Festival Artist, Aardklop National Arts Festival, Potchefstroom
2003: IOC Olympic Art Competition, National Winner, sculpture category, paid attendance at the Senior Delphic Games 2005
2004: Olympic Sport and Art Contest, International Fourth Prize, sculpture category, diploma of recognition, prize-winning entry exhibited at the Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland and then in Athens for display during the Olympic Games, August 2004
2005: Represented South Africa as installation artist during the 2nd International Delphic Games held in the city Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Received a special International Delphic Award during this event for "outstanding presentation in the discipline of art installation"
2005: Recipient of the national annual Helgaard Steyn Award, awarded "for outstanding sculpture", for the installation Showcase in the permanent collection of the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein
2012: Recipient of the Ampersand Award that is administered by the Ampersand Foundation – two month residency in New York
2014: Recipient of a Fiesta Award, KykNet in the category Best Visual Artist 2014: Recipient of an Honorary Medallion for Visual Art (Installation) awarded by Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (the ceremony will take place on 5 September 2014)


2000: Jakkals Award for visual art, sponsored by "De Kat", Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn, one of three finalists
2000: National FNB Vita Awards 2001, one of six finalists for fine art
2000: Exhibition nominated as one of the top ten events during the Aardklop National Arts Festival, Potchefstroom, Spat newsletter
2002: Nominated for a Sasol Kanna Award for visual art at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn 2008: Sasol Wax competition, semi-finalist

These amazing achievements do not detract from the fact that Jan is a humane and most likeable person, who is clearly interested in the world around him.
We would like to hear from you

Please forward information of your branch [and low-res pictures] to the SANAVA secretariat for inclusion in the newsletter.
SANAVA secretariat
Junxion Communications, e-mail, tel +27 82 551 4853, fax +27 86 615 4876