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Daniel van der Merwe on the PPC Imaginarium Awards Zimbabwe

PPC Imaginarium Awards Director Daniel van der Merwe chats to us about launching the awards in Zimbabwe and the future of the competition.

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  • This is the first year that PPC has expanded the PPC Imaginarium Awards to another country, specifically Zimbabwe. What motivated the expansion?

Zimbabwe is part of the PPC family.With small beginnings, PPC Zimbabwe was launched east of Bulawayo under the name Premier Portland Cement (Pvt) Ltd in 1913, and was Zimbabwe’s first cement company. Packed in jute bags, our products initially went on sale to the public in September 1914, with exports to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and the Belgian Congo beginning in 1916. The factory at Colleen Bawn was established in 1946. For more details, see: http://www.ppc.co.za/zimbabwe/about-us/our-history/

With the recent construction of our factory in Harare, we have demonstrated our commitment to the country and growing its economy. The PPC Imaginarium is a logical extension of that in the way that we can contribute to growing and supporting the Zimbabwean creative industries and designers, as well as job creation and the development of the cultures of innovation and design in that country.  

PPC Imaginarium

 

  • Why is a platform like the PPC Imaginarium Awards important for the Zimbabwean arts and design industries?

There is a strong culture of arts and crafts in Zimbabwe, with the country’s soapstone sculptors acknowledged worldwide. Basket-making, weaving, pottery and textiles are all strongly established creative industries in Zimbabwe.

The PPC Imaginarium can play a very important role in extending mentorship, support and marketing opportunities to these and other young emerging artists, at the same time introducing them to a new medium, namely, concrete, which is cheap to make and allows them new and previously unimaginable experimentation opportunities to expand their design-maker possibilities.

 

  • What do you hope the awards’ growth into Zimbabwe will achieve in the long run?

There are very few opportunities available to artists in Zimbabwe. Many of them seem to be stuck in a survivalist way of making ends meet. The aim of the PPC-sponsored platform is to make a difference in their lives.  

 

  • What is your impression of the Zimbabwean leg of the PPC Imaginarium Awards and its progress thus far?

I was struck by the overwhelming numbers in attendance at the launch event and subsequent workshops that we conducted in Zimbabwe, as well as by the entries we have received so far, given that the initiative was only launched in October last year. There seems to be a hunger for new learning and profiling opportunities, which the artists grasp with both hands.

 

  • Can other countries expect to participate in the PPC Imaginarium Awards in the future? If so, could this impact the awards’ format (for example, categories)?  

The platform will be introduced slowly in other African countries in which PPC currently has operations. We will adapt the platform to suit local conditions and needs; as the saying goes: “We will build the road as we walk it!” It is very exciting.

The other countries we are looking at expanding into eventually are Botswana, Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We see that as a way of extending support to those African communities in the same way that PPC does in South Africa and now Zimbabwe.

We believe the future lies in Africa, and the continent has demonstrated that it has tremendous potential and is the birthplace of original creativity. The rest of the world is looking more and more at Africa for its creative design inspiration.  

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