Archive: Issue No. 76, December 2003

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Brett Kebble

On the lawn at Monterey, Brett Kebble announces the details of the 2004 Awards

New! Improved! The Brett Kebble Art Awards for 2004

Doubling the prize money in all sections of the Brett Kebble Art Awards (BKAA) for 2004 will make the winning of one of the awards even more desirable. The piece judged to be the finest next year will earn its artist a cool R200,000, while each of the five categories - painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and crafts - carries an award of R60,000. In addition, the judges may award any number of honorable mention prizes of R10,000 each.

But that's not even the best news about this maverick new art award, which in its first time out attracted 1,700 submissions and drew praise and criticism in about equal measures. The best news is that this second edition will be curated by the highly respected artist/curator Clive van den Berg. Van den Berg has a track record of insightful and highly organised curation, particularly in a three-year stint as visual arts director for the Klein Karoo Arts Festival.

Many considered the first BKA less than it might have been as a result of the out-of-touch curating of artist Richard Smith, who has spent much of the past decade in Greece. In a graceful if short speech, Smith thanked Brett Kebble for the opportunity to be the first curator, and said he wished now to return to his studio to make work.

The announcements regarding the BKAA were made on November 25 at an exquisitely catered lunch at Monterey, Bishopscourt, Cape Town, the corporate headquarters of the award. According to reports, the Johannesburg based van den Berg only received news of his new appointment in a ten o' clock phone call the night before the press conference, and had at this extremely short notice been flown down to be part of the event.

Questioned as to how he had been appointed, Van den Berg said that the organisers had gone through a wide-ranging process of canvassing people in the art world, and he had undergone a series of interviews and phone calls. Diplomatically, he claimed not to know who the other two curatorial finalists were. Van den Berg also said that next year, judging would not be done through the medium of photographs of work, but that he will be travelling around the country visiting artists and craftspeople in their studios.

The judges from round one, critic Lucia Berger, curator Julia Meintjes, and artists Zwelethu Mthethwa and Penny Siopis have agreed to continue as judges for round two. The venue is likely to be the Cape Town Convention Centre again - though this time in one of the exhibition halls rather than in the concourse.

The third piece of good news about BKAA2 - announced by Brett Kebble himself after a particularly prolonged bout of the peacock screeching - is that next year, there will be a new logo which will move away from this year's kitschy peacock feather design.

The improvements announced to the form of the event are substantial, and ought to be well received by the art community at large. Submissions of work must be made at by May 31 at regional centres, and the exhibition will open at a gala dinner on October 2, to be followed by a three week exhibition of the work of the finalists.