Our Winner’s Experience: Jessica Kapp

Download the 2018 catalogue to see Jessica's work.


Congratulations on being announced as the winner of Sasol New Signatures 2018!
Now that the excitement from the Gala event has settled we wanted to catch up with you and understand more about your experience?

At the point where it was you and Peter Mikael Campbell (runner up 2018) left ...what emotions were you feeling? I felt so overwhelmed! It was a combination of excitement and shock.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard your name being announced? 
It was a huge surprise! I felt as if I was in a little bubble and I just floated onto the stage. I was so happy and proud of myself and my work.

The awards evening hosted over 600 invited dignitaries and members of the public - all of them had their eyes on your work. That must have been quite a thrill? It is the first time that my work has been seen outside Stellenbosch which was exciting in itself. The exposure and feedback from all the guests was fantastic. 

Your winning piece is called Mapping Time - what interesting reactions have you had to this work? Someone used it as a stand to hold their wine glass! That was amusing!

Where would you like to see  Mapping Time exhibited permanently - Knysna perhaps as a monument to the 2017 fires? Possibly - I’m undecided on this one. I  have an idea of setting it out at home and seeing how the weather will change its appearance over time.

Your family flew up from the Cape to be with you - how important is their support and encouragement? Extremely important! They have supported me throughout my education - both financially and emotionally., This was an achievement I wanted to include them in. To show them how far I have come. 

Sasol New Signatures 2018 has received a huge amount of national media coverage.How does it feel to see your work in major newspapers? Are you keeping a scrapbook? It still feels a little strange! Seeing myself on screen or hearing my own voice always leaves me feeling a little shy.  My aunties have been keeping newspaper clippings for me from both Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

Do you feel your win is a motivation to your fellow students colleagues? Definitely, it shows that that even at varsity level we all have the potential to succeed and be recognised by our talents. 

On the day of the Gala you were introduced to the exhibition featuring the other 6 winners and 94 finalists.  What were your thoughts on the works displayed? I was so impressed by all the selected works. Each work was innovative and unique. The standard of work in this competition is of such a high quality, it really is a true reflection of the artists and is a testament to artists creating work around the country. 

You spent quite a bit of time with the other 6 winners. Did you enjoy sharing this experience and what was the general atmosphere amongst the group? 
I loved getting to know the other 6 winners. We all come from different places, so we spent some time getting to know one another and shared our stories and aspirations. My overriding emotion was definitely nervousness. I study with Megan, and Pierre and Peter are a stone’s throw away in Cape Town so I hope to see them all in the future again.

Of the 94 works featured in the  final exhibition - did any pieces make an impression on you and why? I was drawn to Pierre’s Ap(peal) 1 and Ap(peal) 2 porcelain slaves belles. I had seen them before and absolutely loved them. They are beautiful and captivating, I love his display and the questions that it raises about the preservation of historical events and  artefacts.

It has only been a few weeks since your win - but have your future plans been adjusted in any way or are you back to the reality of completing your final year at Stellenbosch and prepping for the Gradex Exhibition 2018? I have been concentrating on completing my research article which I have submitted.  Now I can think about the future and I can already see some changes in my plans for next year.  Interesting opportunities have come up and I am very excited to see where they lead. 

Your win came with the R100 000 prize money - how will this windfall help sustain your career? I am planning to invest the money in working towards my solo exhibition for Sasol New Signatures 2019 and to further develop my skills set and explore many more new techniques over the course of the next year.

You previously mentioned your interest in printmaking and book binding - do you think we could see more of these disciplines in your future work? Definitely! I am working on a few prints at the moment as well as designing my own catalogue. 

There could be only one winner! Do you have words of encouragement for the runners up and for artists considering entering in 2018? Put your best foot forward and enter! There is nothing to lose and so much to gain by putting yourself out there, and exposing your work to a larger audience. It is an amazing platform and you learn a lot about yourself and your aspirations. This journey has been an overall excellent experience.

As Professor Binsbergen said Sasol New Signatures is a massive machine - do you have any comments for the Sponsors, judges ,organizers, guests and media? Thank-you so much for this wonderful opportunity! And for investing in the future of South African art and instilling  confidence in young emerging creatives around the country. Without your support none of this would have even been possible. Well done to the sponsors and organisers for putting on a fantastic exhibition, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the next one.