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Meet the Judges -Mary Sibande, 2017

Mary Sibande’s works have been exhibited both locally and internationally and draw inspiration from her experience growing up in South Africa. She shares her story and insights into being an artist in this country.


Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a practicing artist who makes sculptures, photographic prints and installations. I am currently making sculptural work using fibreglass and fabric. I am a storyteller who appropriates my own family history and biography.

Did you study formally, and if so, how did this inform your future career?

I studied at the University of Johannesburg. I first completed my diploma and then went onto obtain a BTech degree. The degree taught me to research and think about the media I am using, so my studio is full of storyboards, notes, references and visual diaries. 

What motivated you to become a judge for the PPC Imaginarium Awards?

I wanted to contribute positively to the lives of up-and-coming artists. 

What key aspects will you be looking at when judging contestants’ work?

I look beyond material and visual representation. I look for contextual relevance to issues relating to the country at the moment. Iam also concerned about how artists interpret their world through their manipulation of media to give their unique view of the world and the concerned subject matter.

What are your thoughts on art and design in South Africa and Africa as a whole?

The country is a vibrant, fertile place for dynamic views. There is great potential to develop truly South African narratives.

What do you think about the future of art and design in South Africa? 

I find that there is great excitement with new and emerging voices, whom will determine their own experiences in the world. 

What advice would you give young and up-and-coming designers and artists?

The glamour of being a ‘famous’ artist is only one-tenth of the work. The rest is hard work, dedicated to developing ideas, research and validating one’s practice. 

What has been the highlight of your career?

I have been fortunate enough to have multiple highlights and they come in the form of my work being acknowledged by a number of institutions. The first was the opportunity to exhibit my work at the Venice Biennale, which was followed by being a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. In 2013, I received the Standard BankYoung Artist Award.



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