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MEET THE JUDGES: WAYNE MATTHEWS

Artist, curator and educator Wayne Matthews is the quintessentially modern man with an assortment of different hats to wear! We’re excited to have him on board as part of the 2015/2016 PPC Imaginarium judging panel. Here, he fills us in on his experience in the creative field and offers valuable advice to aspiring artists.

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Please tell us a bit about your background?

I started my artistic edification, informally and unceremoniously, in 1998 at a then Johannesburg-based artist, Spies Venter, in exchange for removing my clothes as an artist’s model. After cunningly vanishing from the inept socialisation of a plethora of model C schools, I completed several short courses at UNISA including certificate courses in Visual Literacy and Painting. In 2003, I enrolled at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, then Port Elizabeth Technikon, and graduated with a B. Tech cum laude in 2006.

From 2002, I have also participated in numerous group exhibitions, both locally and internationally, and have sold work to several anonymous benefactors. During 2007 - a second successful year of entering work for the ABSA l’Atelier - I received a Merit Award for my labours and the work titled Europa’s Libation.

Since then I have worked at the NMMU as the third year Art Theory lecturer and Painting lecturer for second and third year students, as well as at various other private tertiary institutions.

I am currently employed as Gallery Manager and Curator at the ArtEC gallery in Port Elizabeth. I am trying to shrewdly and consistently use my time to disseminate dangerous ideas regarding the arts and promulgate mixed-media and cross-disciplinary artistic practices.

Wayne Matthews

Why do you think that you were chosen as a PPC Imaginarium judge?

I suspect I was elected because of the diversity of creative fields I have been exposed to as a creative professional, as an exhibiting artist that works across mediums and disciplines, as an academic and lecturer, and finally as a gallery manager and young curator.

What is the professional achievement that you are most proud of to date?

In the context of the South African art and cultural landscape, one carries a complex and rather manic array of high and low points. From the years immediately after graduation, receiving a Merit Award from the esteemed Absa L’Atelier stands out as a highpoint, while my academic career and the successes of my students add significantly to the list of successes.

More than any of my private triumphs, whether exhibitions, sales, accolades etc., as a gallery manager and young curator I work with artists whom I respect and admire; artists that I have admired since the inception of my artistic adventures, artists that have little regard for preconceived boundaries, rogues who manically search for new ways of thinking, creating and being…

What excites and inspires you about South African creative talent?

South Africa is a place in perpetual crisis, this means that South African cultural practitioners are for the most part highly critical and reflexive, responding to the dynamics of their context with the creativity that manifests most emphatically in difficult situations. Personally speaking I believe that art/design should instigate, should affect mental and physical changes in the social, political, cultural and personal bodies and project possibilities as yet unseen. I think the South African creative landscape is squarely situated in just such ‘active’ forms of engagement.

Any advice for the PPC Imaginarium entrants?

Do not compromise but hear and respond to criticism, engage with the context from which you produce, actively research your interests and shun any sense of complacency.

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