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Friday, November 8, 2013


(Prof Pitika Ntuli; Camron Andrews; Sandra Prinsloo, Motlatji Ditodi; Blessing Ngobeni; Latozi Madosini and Poorvi Bhana. Pic by John Hogg)

The Arts & Culture Trust announced the 2013 winners of the ACT Lifetime Achievement Awards and ImpACT Awards for Young Professionals at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg today.

The ImpACT Awards for Young Professionals, sponsored by the Distell Foundation, are presented annually to honour young artists who have reached a professional standing in their discipline, and are within the first five years of their professional careers. After a public nominations process, the following awards were announced for 2013: Blessing Ngobeni for Visual Arts, Poorvi Bhana for Design, Motlatji Ditodi for Theatre, and Camron Andrews in the category Music and Singing.

Blessing Ngobeni was born in Tzaneen, Limpopo. He left Limpopo for Johannesburg at the age of ten, where he fell in with a bad crowd and was soon involved in crime. Five years later he was arrested for armed robbery and spent close to six years in prison. In prison, Ngobeni took stock of his life and action to correct its trajectory. He started studying towards a matric and was exposed to the Tsoga (Wake Up) Arts Project. With the help of warders and two particular friends who brought him art materials, he began to pursue his art seriously; using a range of found objects and waste materials, including magazine cuttings and found cardboard canvasses.

He has since studied at Newtown’s Artist Proof Studio and has worked for David Krut Publishing at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. He has also worked at the Michaelis Art Library at the Joburg Central Library as head puppeteer, puppet show director and as a trainee cameraman at Red Pepper Pictures. He has exhibited in several group exhibitions, ranging from the Diepkloof Library to Johannesburg Central Library and Museum Africa. He was also the first prize and gold award winner at the Gala Ex-Offenders Awards and has exhibited in several group shows at Unity Gallery, including the Sanaa Africa Day exhibition at Moyo’s Zoo Lake. Ngobeni won an award at the Reinhold Cassirer Ward in 2012. In bestowing the award on Blessing, The Bag Factory had this to say about his work: “The most profound part of his application is the w ork itself. His paintings are filled with the irony of the cabaret, sporting the influences of Norman Catherine and MirĂ³, while never forgetting his township roots.”

Acknowledging receipt of the 2013 ImpACT Award for Visual Art, Ngobeni says that his art work is a voice that speaks on behalf of himself and the people around him, to inform the world about the power of the culture of creativity.

Since graduating with an MTech in Fine Arts from the Tshwane University of Technology, 2013 ImpACT Award Winner for Design, Poorvi Bhana has featured prominently in exhibitions, both as exhibitor and curator. Creating pieces like Sankhya and Chandra Graha (2009), she excelled and quickly gained the respect of her peers as an artist. Bhana was selected as a finalist at the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition (2009) and awarded a merit prize, later winning first prize for the piece, Om asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityorma amritamgamaya at the Thami Mnyele Fine Art Competition. Her work is based largely on clay and glass. Her pieces are often simple, attractive, small and delicate, usually monochrome and frequently featuring brightly coloured pigments. They show how various techniques may be combined to create a single piece, or how a number of individual pieces are able to work together in harmony, through the use of light and shadow.

Bhana makes frequent trips to India and has toured Europe and North America as an accomplished musician and dancer. Inspired by her father - a leading sculptor in the community - she elected to pursue a career in the arts, admitting that her inspiration is drawn from both African and Indian culture.
Today, Bhana may be found inspiring art students in pursuit of their dreams or in her workshop creating commissioned pieces. “To be acknowledged for my tiny contribution towards South African Arts and Culture, is truly humbling. South Africa is bursting with fresh talent and ideas, and to be selected as the winner of the ImpACT Award for Design is both a great honour and privilege,” said Bhana, on receiving the ImpACT Award for Design.

2013 ImpACT Award Winner for Theatre, Motlatji Ditodi’s professional theatre credits include The Secret Garden, The Boys in the Photograph, The Crucible, and The Miser for which she received a Naledi Theatre Award nomination in 2012 for Best Breakthrough Performance/Best Performance by a Newcomer. Television credits include Askies/Zulu For Sale, Zone 14, and Lokshin Bioscope: 2020 Orlando East. She was Assistant Director for the UJ Arts & Culture productions of The Far Off-Off Broadway Play Festival (FOOB), Flash – A Musical Blog, The Quiet Violence of Dreams, SA Shorts – Quickies for a Microwave Generation, and Little Shop of Horrors – all under the tutelage of Alby Michaels. Her directing debut took place in 2011, with a staged reading of Myth of Andrew and Jo by Gideon van Eeden, followed in 2013 by directing Romeo ‘n Juliet Unplugged (adapted by Robin Malan), which was the UJ Arts & Culture’s first foray into touring Theatre in Education.

While completing her Bachelor of Arts in Audio-visual Production Management at the University of Johannesburg, she was a member of the (then) RAU Choir, RAU Song and Dance, RAU Dramatic, and RAU Contemporary Dance companies. As a student, she played various lead roles in student productions; took part in a number of projects under the WITS Drama for Life programme, notably as a member of the DFL Playback Theatre Company, "When you're busy ploughing into what you think is your destiny, you don't necessarily do it for recognition. Every project, every experience, every person I meet (good, bad, and everything in between) is an opportunity for me to learn, and therefore put back into my work. Receiving this Award is incredibly humbling, but more importantly, it's the encouragement I'll use to work even harder!‎" she says.

Instrumentalist, teacher, arranger, and composer, Camron Andrews, was awarded the 2013 ImpACT Award for Music. Andrews received his Bachelor of Music degree from The University of The Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, under the tutelage of some of South Africa's music greats. He has worked in a range of musical settings: with the JPO, JFO, KZNPO, and Miagi Orchestra and Big Band; with the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, Richard Cock, Marcus Wyatt, McCoy Mrubata, Bryan Schimmel, Carlo Mombelli, Jonathan Crossley and KB Motsilanyane; and with bands/groups around the country. Camron has been teaching privately and at schools in the Johannesburg area since 2006. In 2009 he was chosen by the US State Department as one of 20 musicians from around the world for a music exchange programme on performance and composition held at Northeastern University, Boston, USA.Camron compiles notes for The Full Works programme for Richard Cock on Classic FM and recently held the Reed 1 position for the South African international touring production of Jersey Boys, the musical. Andrews says “I am grateful to ACT for all they do to promote the arts in SA. We are fortunate to have the support and recognition of such an organisation.”

The Judging Panel for the 2013 ImpACT Awards was headed by ACT Ambassador and creative professional Brenda Sakellarides, with judges Gita Pather, Director of Wits Theatre; Steven Sack, arts administrator extraordinaire and director of the Origins Centre; Usha Seejarim, conceptual visual and public artist; Sifiso Kweyama, dancer/choreographer and company manager of Moving Into Dance and Concord Nkabinde, 2006 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, bass guitarist.

Lifetime Achievement Awards were made to Elsa Joubert, for Literature (sponsored by Media24 Books); Prof Pitika Ntuli for Visual Arts (sponsored by the Vodacom Foundation); Sandra Prinsloo for Theatre (sponsored by DALRO); and Latozi Madosini for Music (sponsored by SAMRO).

The 2013 ACT Awards ceremony was presented in association with the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), Media24 Books, and the Vodacom Foundation and is supported by the Distell Foundation, CLASSICfeel Magazine, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), KykNet and Pink Room Productions. The Awards scores are audited by Independent Registered Auditor, AL van Heerden.

For more information about the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) visit