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Six of South Africa’s brightest young creative talents have been named as Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners for 2017. These recipients of the country’s leading arts award, now in its 36th year, were announced by Standard Bank and the National Arts Festival in Johannesburg.
They are Abel Selaocoe (music), Benjamin Jephta (jazz), Beth Diane Armstrong (visual art), Dineo Seshee Bopape (performance art), Monageng “Vice” Motshabi (theatre) and Thandazile Radebe (dance).
They join a prestigious group of 150 Young Artist Award winners over a period of 36 years that reads like a Who’s Who of South Africa’s artistic talent and include many of the country’s most famous and accomplished creative achievers such as Sibongile Khumalo, William Kentridge, Pieter Dirk Uys, Mbongeni Ngema, Andrew Buckland and Johnny Clegg.
Cellist Abel Selaocoe (24) explores the capacity of the cello across a plethora of genres, from collaborating with beatboxers to giving concerto performances and solo classical recitals. Bassist and composer Benjamin Jephta (24) has already made a name for himself as one of South Africa’s premier jazz double bass and electric bass players. He is involved in various original projects ranging from playing double bass in a free jazz orchestra to synth-bass in a pop band.
Thirty-one-year-old Beth Diane Armstrong is regarded as a leading sculptor of her generation. For the last number of years she has worked predominantly on monumental artworks made of mild and stainless steel. Multimedia artist Dineo Seshee Bopape (35) uses experimental video montages, sound, found objects, photographs and sculptural installations in her work which has been shown in the US, the Netherlands and the 12th Biennale de Lyon.
Award-winning playwright and director Monageng “Vice” Motshabi (33) has penned Echoes and Book of Rebellations (co-written with Kgafela oa Magogodi), both of which won Naledi Awards. He has directed numerous productions including Mogatapele, The Story I’m About To Tell and Sizwe Banzi is Dead. Thandazile Radebe is one of the country’s leading contemporary choreographers and dancers and uses her body to tell stories.
The strong partnership between Standard Bank, which has sponsored the award since 1984, and the National Arts Festival has helped develop South Africa’s cultural treasury that reflects the country’s artistic past as well as serves to inspire new generations of artists, performers and musicians.
Says Hazel Chimhandamba, Head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank: “Over the years the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards have grown in stature and continue to provide a wonderful platform and opportunity for the winning artists to bring their work to a national and international arena. It has created a rich legacy while providing role models for future generations to value, respect and aspire to whilst enriching and expanding the country’s cultural landscape.”
National Arts Festival executive producer Ashraf Johaardien adds: “These awards are more than just an annual platform which culminate in the presentation of new work. It is a yearlong process during which key industry players come together specifically to identify and assess the creative output of emerging artists who show potential to make a meaningful contribution to arts and culture throughout their careers. The awards programme then significantly enhances their professional development by providing the necessary resources and space for them to showcase themselves and their work at South Africa’s foremost arts festival. For me it’s really about the important work of identifying and cultivating exceptional talent.”
Winners from various artistic genres are selected by the National Arts Festival Committee, chaired by Brett Bailey. All decisions regarding winners are made jointly by the committee. The winners receive a cash incentive, and are given support to develop and premiere new works that will be featured on the Main Programme of the 2017 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, which will run from June 29 to July 9, 2017.