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Meet the Judges – Stephen Hobbs, 2018

We welcome veteran judge Stephen Hobbs – who also produces the PPC Imaginarium travelling exhibition – to the 2018 national judging panel.

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Stephen Hobbs returns to the judging panel of the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards – this time as a national judge! Hobbs is a renowned artist whose work covers a range of disciplines, foregrounding the links between Johannesburg and other cities worldwide.

Hobbs is head of The Trinity Session, a contemporary art team whose work revolves around Johannesburg and, through multi-disciplinary events, exhibitions and large-scale urban and public art projects, “reflect[s] on the dynamic exchange of urban and cultural heritage”.

The Trinity Session was involved in the installation of 9 large-scale steel tree sculptures on Juta Street in Braamfontein. The team was also appointed curator-coordinator of place-making projects along the development corridors of Johannesburg, including Noordgesig, the Brixton Social Clusters, upgrades to Paterson Park and Balfour Park and the BRT program along Louis Botha Avenue.

Hobbs brings his experience in public work and curation to bear on the production of the PPC Imaginarium travelling exhibition and is responsible for mounting the show in each venue and has held this role since the inception of the competition.

In his personal work, Hobbs is especially intrigued by the way defensive urban planning and architecture influence the behaviour of the city and of society. The link between public art and Hobbs’s own practice, moreover, was reinforced by elements of what one might call urban decay.

“It will be interesting to see how new ownership in [art and design] is created and managed as the principles of the politics of decolonisation of education, culture and arts unfold.”

He is no stranger to the unique difficulties many young artists face in the South African art industry. Hobbs elaborates: “This industry, if you will, has only come to realise its real commercial potential in the last 10 years. The impact of the disciplines influencing each other still feels quite premature.” To new artists, he adds: “Be very wary of big promises at the beginning of one’s career. Too much momentary success can/will kill young talent.”

Raised among artists, Hobbs chose to pursue a BAFA (Hons) at the University of the Witwatersrand to formalise his artistic interests. Graduating in 1994, he went on to curate the Market Theatre Galleries (Johannesburg) from 1994-2000. He co-directed the Joburg Theatre’s Gallery Premises from 2004-2008.

With a keen knowledge of the arts industry, as well as various artistic disciplines, Hobbs is a valuable addition to the national judging panel of the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards.

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