Hall of fame | Poorvi Bhana | Sasol New Signatures

Hall of fame | Poorvi Bhana

Poorvi Bhana was named a Sasol New Signatures merit award winner in 2009 with her sculptural work titled “Om asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityorma amritamgamaya om shantih shantih shantih brihdaranyaka upanisada 1:3:27 – India”.

Bhana acknowledges her father (also a sculptor) as an inspiration for her decision to pursue a career in the arts where she imagines pieces made from clay or glass. Her work has a reputation for being simple, attractive, small and delicate, usually monochrome and often featuring brightly hued pigments. Bhana demonstrates how various techniques can be integrated, resulting in a unique piece, or how a number of individual pieces can work together as one work. Bhana has featured prominently at exhibitions, both as an exhibitor and curator and she has received her Master’s in Fine Art from the University of Pretoria. Today she lectures part-time at the Tswhane University of Technology and pursues her art by creating commissioned pieces. We caught up with her in her workshop and had a chat...

You received a Sasol New Signatures merit award in 2009... but you continued to enter this prestigious competition... tell us why?

Yes...I entered a total number of four times - 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014. It is important to stay motivated and build a portfolio. I’ve heard Professor Binsbergen, the competition’s National Chairperson, emphasising the importance of not getting discouraged. I support the idea of staying focused.

Did winning the competition assist in launching your career as an artist?

Sasol New Signatures exposed me not only to the art fraternity but to the wider public too.

The recognition I received in 2009  boosted me with a renewed sense of confidence and motivation to continue pursuing a career in the arts. The award had a positive effect.

Do you follow the competition and recent winners? if so, which artists have impressed you?  

The Sasol New Signatures competition is one event I eagerly anticipate each year. I diarise the dates well in advance and I’m excited to see the exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum.  Several artists have caught my attention and continue to inspire me including Mandy Coppes-Martin, Zyma Amien and Amita Makan.

What have you achieved since winning and award in the competition?  

I have had the opportunity to participate in several prestigious exhibitions and have won a few other awards such as the ImpACT Award for design from the Arts & Culture Trust and the IT Web Brainstorm Calendar competition.

What advice do you have for other artists, young or old, wanting to build their career as an artist? 

The road is never easy, but following a career in the arts helps one rethink one’s path in life and it is one of the surest ways of finding one's self. Sasol New Signatures is a unique competition as it doesn’t enforce an age limit. In this way, it is Limitless and doesn’t suffer from ageism.

About Poorvi Bhana's Sasol New Signatures winning work

Written by Poorvi Bhana


Om asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityorma amritamgamaya om shantih shantih shantih brihdaranyaka upanisada 1:3:27 – India


Oh Almighty, Lead us from the unreal (falsity) to the real (truth) From darkness to light From death to immortality Oh Almighty, May there be Peace, Peace, Peace


These words form part of a prayer, originating in ancient Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads. It endeavors to elucidate that a human being is born without knowledge of the supreme, but with age comes the realization that there is someone behind this mundane world who controls all forms of life and in whose hand we are mere puppets, playing one’s role on the stage of the world in accordance with the wishes of the Supreme. For, nothing gratifies a person more than their own search in the absolute stillness of their being, where the soul and mind dive into the region beyond the limits of their fate and fortune. My exhibition of lights projecting images placed in a pitch dark room further alludes to the fact that there is darkness within us as well as around us, leading us to search for this inner light, the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. In essence, its meaning can be transcribed as - from non-existence lead us to existence, from darkness lead us to light, from death lead us to immortality.


My lights are made of simple material, PVC pipes into which small patterns have been drilled, forming a mosaic of holes through which light can shine. The main focus of the light however is that which is projected onto the white stoneware ceramic pieces. Individual images have been sandblasted by hand onto glass disks through which the lights penetrates, resulting in an extraordinary array where ceramic infuses with the element of light.