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Winner of the sculpture category, Mlonishwa Chiliza’s winning piece intends to express his life experience of living in a hostel.


Chiliza’s winning piece intends to express his life experience of living in a hostel, an often negatively perceived place with shocking historical records of unnecessary wars and conflicts between political parties.

Mlonishwa Chiliza came from a working class background and a hostel provided him with a home. His work portrays the deep relationship he has had over his lifetime with this environment. The intention to depict an underprivileged kitchen is a reflection of his own experience. In a hostel, the kitchen is often the main and most important place. It is where those who live there gather and chat about social and political issues, which creates unity of brotherhood and fatherhood within the building.

Winner Sculpture

Portraying a two-plate stove with an empty kettle intended to grab the viewer’s attention in getting a feeling of a township life. The medium of cement is hard and strong, which acts as a metaphor for Mlonishwa Chiliza’s life- enduring the hardships of poverty, hunger and hopelessness. These objects are handmade mainly to portray the interior of an informal environment, and are made with cement because of the strong sense of permanence. Chiliza thoroughly enjoyed the medium, seeing it as a constructive device to record and share his ideas.

Lastly, the floor replicates uMlabalaba, which is a game played in most hostels. The structure of a sleeping chair reveals the insufficiency of space that can be experienced in a hostel. For our judging panel, Chiliza’s piece was a clear winner for a number of reasons. The depiction of a poignant personal story, combined with the raw emotion that concrete conveys makes for an excellent example of contemporary South African sculpture.

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