Winners Circle

Winner 2014
Elizabeth Jane Balcomb

Animal-human figures in some art traditions symbolize animal like characteristics in humans that are often seen as negative, such as aggression, passivity or greed. My pieces, like the therianthropic figures in San paintings, open a window between every-day and spiritual worlds, and between the realms of the living and the dead.  They explore the relationship between human and animal worlds, suggesting that identity is fluid, mysterious and beautiful, and that consciousness is a common condition, not the sole attribute of human beings.

Therianthropes have been part of humanities myths for thousands of years, and I believe that they will be a part of our psyche for thousands more. They hold a very deep response.  My studies in nature conservation and my deep craving for wild places since I was very young have led me to focus on this phenomenon. I believe they are the symbol of a culture which is becoming increasingly awake to our environment.

The hyena is the symbol of a matriarchal society who is reflected as having a less desirable, almost corrupted form of power. They are seen as desperate edge dwellers, who use devious ways to survive, who have to fight to prove their worth to merely live.

I am you
The model for this piece is my son.   The family unit is the nucleus of humanity, and the mothers' role within that is pivotal. While making him, I reflected upon my time spent being his mother, my instinct to protect, and the fact that in the long term, failure in this regard is inevitable.

Runner Up
Adelheid Camilla von Maltitz

Personally, I experience an intense and consistent sense of anxiety towards death, and specifically the loss of a loved one due to a road accident. This has led me to wonder how an individual copes with this sort of substantial loss. During my practical research it has become apparent that there are many contrasts existing in the mourning process, contrasts related to the relationship between anxiety and peace.


  • Peace vs anxiety
  • Open vs closed graves
  • Living vs dead
  • Power vs powerless
  • Light vs dark
  • Heaven vs earth
  • Whole vs fragmented

However, these stark contrasts also allude to ‘grey areas’ between them. For example, some believe that there is life after death, and in this way there is another level of existence. Different contrasts could also hold different meanings for different personality types, leading to other ‘grey areas’.

In the artwork, the physical space between the two light boxes can be used by a viewer as a space of contemplation, where contrasts or concepts related to mourning and loss that are relevant to the viewer can be processed. In this way a viewer is immersed, and functions as a third type of body within the work. The first type, suggested by the heaped earth, is a buried body, closed, dead, powerless and dark. The second type, represented by the fragmented apparitions in the light boxes, could be a body in the ‘grey area’ between life and death. The third and final figure is then the viewer: open, alive, lit, whole and powerful.

Merit Award
Lucienne Pallas Bestall

Guided by principles of chance - beginning with two newspaper headlines drawn from a hat and continuing along an arbitrary and erratic chain of associations - the accidental encounter of two unrelated objects, a banana and clothing pegs, presents a curiously novel juxtaposition. At once humorous and unsettling, this encounter, though coincidental and largely meaningless, produces strange effects, sparking several (uncomfortable) associations.

Merit Award
Bongani Innocent Khanyile

This work challenges the general conventional gaze on manual labourers who in South Africa are always perceived as subjects of labour. These helmets are elevated from plastic quality to ceramic quality just to give them the unfamiliar presence that situates them in a superiority level. They express individualism. The fact that they are rendered differently with each appearing and standing out with its own illustration/depiction. The work is a commentary on the generalization of workers and it celebrates various goals, aspirations, taste, and worldviews etc. that exist individually within the working class. Generally a helmet is a protective gear for the head; here it is used metaphorically to protect the labourer's dignity from conventional gazes or stereotypical labelling.

Merit Award
Lorienne Lotz

When it happens in three marks, it is grace" Marlene Dumas

The process of my painting in many respects parallels that of Cy Twombly as described by visual  artist Tacita Dean as an "advancing and retreating" - where "rubbing out is a process of adding as well as subtracting" and there  is a "retraction that leaves a trace".  (Dean 2008}

I acknowledge my inherent cultural constructs and allow a quotidian stream of consciousness, interwoven with throw away phrases and personal responses to media and domestic events to surface. It is through this that I attempt to capture the liminal, to re-connect with our primordial narratives, and to delve into the deeply private space, where the spiritual and the profane merge to reveal that which is the human experience.

The work(s) submitted are from a series called Not Written in Stone, where I used the implications of the secrecy bill, non-transparency and the culture of the statement and subjectivity, as a starting point. From this the submitted works emerged. The use of limestone - a tribute to Mandela; is a comment on the pain and discomfort and damage that he and the other political prisoners endured on Robben Island when forced to break limestone rocks in the quarry without protective eye gear.

The duality of life as a constant reminder of our humanity drives me to paint. It is more than the quest for a place of lucidity; it is also an attempt to key in to the place where the painting and the process become an agent of transcendence and to thus hopefully arrive at a place which evokes meaning far beyond the reach of words.

Merit Award
Josua Strümpfer

In most cultures, the human skull represents one thing: Death. However, the skull is symbolic of more than just death. It is the material evidence of a life lived from beginning to end, from start to finish. A human life has been, and the skull is proof of that. The skull is a symbol of the proverbial seat of consciousness, now mute to reveal the thoughts and intentions it once contained.

I want the viewer to contemplate the anthropocentric nature of the skull as a deeply personal object. It is central to our humanity and mortality, containing all the wonderful, fragile, beautiful, but also evil, capacities of man. Often we talk symbolically of the heart as the origin of our thoughts and emotions, but truly, the skull is the container of our thoughts- the starting point of all actions, good or bad.

Why is it that some people have a greater capacity for evil than others do? Why is it that some minds are poised to descend into reckless hatred and destructive selfishness? Despite the advances we have made as a race, we still have difficulty in discerning the thoughts and intentions of others around us. I propose that it is our humanity, the skull within us.

Although one would like to distance one's self from this darkness, I realize one cannot escape one’s humanity, nor can one deny the death in humanity's pot.

We all have a skull. Contemplating this, one experiences something of the mysteriousness of our human condition.

Merit Award
Colleen Winter

I like boxes. I believe it is indicative of my desire to categorise the world around and within me. All I investigate I have to 'box'; I like things all ‘sewn up’.. However, there are some things that cannot be contained, and refuse to be confined, and when I have tried to do this I have found that they fall apart, and become part of cycles that are always with us.


A special thank you to our judges.

Sasol and the Association of Arts would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the Sasol New Signatures judges, both regionally and nationally, who give of their valuable time to evaluate and select the winners from the hundreds of entries received.

Thank you for your great contribution to the success of this magnificent exhibition.