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Artists paint their own history

The annual competition sees aspiring artists achieve their dreams.

The sound of feet stomping and the sight of raised dust greeted those who attended the annual Umsizi noPende Art Project.

They held the competition striving to celebrate art at the Springs Art Gallery on Saturday. Umsizi noPende is a collaboration between Gauteng and Mpumalanga where emerging artists participate in a competition to get a foot in the industry.

Dignitaries and guests were ushered into the gallery’s hall, where the proceedings promptly began. MC Tumi Sedumedi welcomed guests and touched on the programme. She called forth Karin Muller, the acting divisional head of Arts and Culture from the CoE, to also extend her welcome.

“The beauty and energy you can see all around is what Africa is about, and I can see us doing so much moving forward,” says Muller.

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Co-curator Palesa Suthane thanked Umsizi noPende for giving the artists a platform. The theme for the artwork was Qoqiqiniso (Looking into the past, present and future).

“As the black community gather and share our archives, we need to ensure our stories are told from the narratives of our own people and not wait for history to be written in a language we do not understand,” says Palesa about this year’s theme.

According to the project director of Umsizi noPende, Thamsanga Mfuphi, the first instalment of Umsizi no Pende arts project was in 2022, with 48 entries. Last year had 168 entries, and 2024 had 266.

“We looked at the works that best describe our theme, the quality of the material used and the artist,” Thamsanga explained.

The winners:

• Public voter’s choice – Falida Nkomo;
• Bronze – focused on load-shedding (Kwandiwa Dlwati);
• Silver – belonging in foreign landscapes (Falida Nkomo);
• Gold – photographic journey started in 2008 (Hoek Swaratlhe).

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Nkomo expressed her shock and gratitude at winning two awards.

“I did not expect it but am grateful. In my work, I speak about belonging and un-belonging. My parents are from Malawi, and I grew up in SA, so I speak about finding my own identity,” says Nkomo.

Hoek Swanetlhe (gold winner) says his work is based on his research into the history of four-room houses in townships.

“We come from places where people don’t understand our profession, so awards like these will make us an inspiration to others,” says Hoek.

The exhibition is on display until May 31, and the artworks are available for purchase.

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