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Meet the Judges - Mellaney Routers, 2018

Award-winning ceramicist Mellaney Ruiters joins the judges of this year’s Eastern Cape entries for the PPC Imaginarium Awards. We asked her thoughts on the South African art and design industries.



  • Tell us about yourself. What work and/or projects are you involved in?

I am currently teaching ceramics and drawing in the Art and Design Department of Lovedale TVET College in Alice, Eastern Cape.

PPC Imaginarium
  • Your ceramic work is incredibly complex, bold and distinctive. What training (and/or qualifications) do you have and from where?

I am a graduate of the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art in 2010. In 2011, I received a BTech in Fine Art with Distinction in Ceramics Practice. In 2017, I received my Masters of Technology degree, specialising in Ceramics, and graduated Cum Laude.


I was employed as a lecturer and assistant to the studio master in the Ceramics Department of NMU from February 2012 until November 2014. During that time I was involved in numerous projects, like Trinder Square Mosaic benches and the Madiba Shirt sculpture. I also participated in all the local (as well many national) shows. My ceramic works were selected for both the Sasol New Signatures and the ABSA L’Atelier art contests in the last three years.

In 2017, I was part of an artist’s residence in Denmark titled Project Network. It was a creative and overwhelming experience. It enabled me to produce my first international exhibition, along with ten other outstanding artists from different countries.


  • Who (or what) has inspired you the most artistically? Why?

I don’t have a particular source of inspiration. I strongly believe inspiration can be seen in almost any form, movement or object. It depends on how you apply your creative energy.


  • As a first-time judge, what insights will you bring to the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards?

I intend to keep an open mind regarding the work that will be submitted, whether it is technical or conceptual. I will also analyse the works strictly in terms of standard and presentation.


  • What tips do you have for the entrants of this year’s PPC Imaginarium Awards?

Presentation is important, whether the work is technical or conceptual. The message/statement attached to the art must be clear as this has a huge impact on how people analyse your work. Often artists leave the interpretation up to the audience, but you must be aware of the response you want.


The art/design industry in South Africa is growing immensely. It allows our emerging artists to become aware of their prospects – both local and international. The area of exploration is open, however, as the art and design fields are still developing, with many resources to be discovered.


  • What challenges does one face as a designer in the South African design industry?

One of the challenges that I experience where I teach currently is the absence of an art society. This makes it difficult to provide learners with the necessary knowledge and technology to allow them to realise their true potential.

This answer applies to all art sectors and creative industries as well. It is important to continue evolving, as art and design do constantly. Stay true to whatever it is you design, though: if you’re honest with yourself, that will reflect in your work as well as what you want to achieve.

I wish that PPC would consider having workshops in the rural areas. This will allow future/unknown artists to be discovered.


  • In your view, what role do platforms like the PPC Imaginarium Awards play in the fostering of the SA art/design industry?

PPC provides a platform that is strong and supportive for both fine artists and designers – striking a good balance between them and thus providing opportunities to emerging artists.


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