12 April 2019

At a gala event held at UJ Gallery on 11 April
2019, emerging Eastern Cape artist Sonwabiso Ngcai was announced as overall
winner of 2019 PPC Imaginarium Awards, taking home R150 000 in cash for
his sculpture ‘Isigu, or The Snare’.

A BASA Award-winning programme, the PPC
Imaginarium Awards is the country’s most supportive art and design competition with
over half-a-million Rand in prizes awarded across six categories – Sculpture,
Industrial Design, Film, Fashion, Jewellery and Architecture – to standout
entries that express innovation using PPC cement.

Ngcai secured both the Sculpture Category
prize and the Overall Winner ranking for a thought-provoking entry, which
provides an analogy for how certain religious cults are ensnaring their

According to the artist’s personal views on
the subject matter: “An isigu, in traditional African society, is a contraption
used by young boys to hunt birds. It consists of a downward-facing bowl, with
one side held open by an upright stick that has a string tied to it, with a few
pieces of grain scattered underneath the bowl. Lured by the promise of food, a
bird enters the area, the string is tugged, and the bird is captured. In this
piece, the use of this simple but effective hunting tool is an analogy for the
entrapment of people by religious cults.”

“In South Africa, recent exploitation has
included feeding vulnerable congregants snakes and grass, making them drink
petrol, sexual abuse, bullying and victimization – all in the name of faith,”
he says. “Baited by the expectation of salvation and often seduced by promises
of wealth, people are increasingly falling into religious cults. The use of
concrete refers to the perceived power of faith and how congregants find
strength in the Bible. The construction of the trap alludes to temporary church
pop-up structures such as tents or rented buildings that appear in strategic
places,” he continues.

Other work in the Sculpture Category was
categorized by this same desire to interrogate the contemporary African
condition. Runner-up in the Sculpture Category was Durban-based artist Kenneth
Shandu for a work depicting the plight of the homeless on the streets of
Durban. A Special Commendation went to Prudence Magagula for her exploration of
gender violence and sexism experienced by female mine workers.

All the Winners and Runners-up in the other
entry Categories are as follows:


Winner: “Vertical Concrete Record Player” by
Jomar Dreyer

Runner-up: “Lime Light” by Jon-Peer Bouwer


Winner: “Tribe” by Cow Mash

Runner-up: “My Mother’s Dress” by Cheryl Traub

Special Commendation: “Genesis 4: I Am Not the
Keeper” by Itumeleng Ramakau


Winner: “Camara and the Clothing Factory” by
Wian Jordaan

Runner-up: “Finding Identity Within the Grid”
by Suzani van der Merwe


Winner: “Day Zero – Reversible Pendant” by
Khanya Mthethwa

Runner-up: “K3 – Keree 3” by Joani Groenewald


There was no Winner or Runner-up in the Film
Category but Nirma Madhoo received a Special Commendation.

The Overall Winner, Category Winners,
Runners-up and Special Commendations were chosen from an unprecedented number
of 67 Finalists. In the past five years of the competition, the number of
Finalists selected has not exceeded 50 entries on average per year. According
to the director of the awards, Daniel van der Merwe of PPC Ltd, the “increasing
level of the work entered and the expanding number of Finalists points to the
momentum the competition has gained since inception. We commend all our
entrants on the fantastic work and extend our hearty congratulations to the winners!”

The PPC Imaginarium Awards grew out of the
previous and longstanding PPC Young Concrete Sculptors competition. Together,
the two awards programmes constitute a 27-year-long legacy and investment in
the arts for PPC Ltd.


In 2014, PPC extended its existing sculpture, fine art, and
industrial design competition (The Young Concrete Sculptor Awards) to include
the creative disciplines of jewellery, fashion and film. As a result, the PPC
Imaginarium Awards came into being. The ambitious art-and-design contest gives
emerging artists and designers the chance to showcase their talents through the
medium of concrete.


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