Jo Roets: Winner of the StateoftheART Gallery Award 2018

As we present the national open call for the second edition of the StateoftheART Gallery Award in 2019, we thought it would be the perfect time to hear from last year’s winner : Jo Roets.


Jo tells the story of her fated application process and shares her thoughts on the Award as a platform, meeting the other finalists and what it was like to be announced the overall winner. Save the date for her upcoming solo exhibition from 2 - 18 May at StateoftheART in Cape Town.

View Jo’s delicate clay artworks available online here>>>

Jo Roets at her home studio in 2018.

At the end of 2017, my mom invited me to join her in a catering venture. I quit my 14-year art-lecturing career and after three months in the catering business I was unhappy and aching for art. Since I've had a lifelong dream of becoming a full time artist in the back of my mind, I figured that this was the time to pursue it. In January 2018 I devised a plan of action to realize this dream.

While setting out my year calendar, I first learnt of the StateoftheART Gallery Award online. I knew this was a competition not to be missed as it was the inaugural year and not only included a cash prize but a solo exhibition as well. 

The first half of the year quickly filled up with time spent on producing art pieces, participating in exhibitions and entering every practically possible competition (Editors note: Jo was also awarded a spot as Finalist in the Sasol New Signatures and Vuleka art competitions! )

When I started planning my artworks for the StateoftheART Award I wanted to make sure that I submitted something that has never been seen before, something distinct and original. Hours of research and design went into my submission so as to ensure that each piece spoke with a unique voice while the body of work also had the signature of my soul in it.

Submission deadline day
Late afternoon on deadline day (Sunday 15 July) I was still finishing off my artist statement and slowly started uploading all my images and documents onto StateoftheART's website. Somehow the gremlins in cyberspace crept in and the upload was unsuccessful. No stress, I had more than enough time to re-attach the files and complete the online entry form later (seeing that the cut-off time was only at midnight).

I left home to attend other engagements and only returned that evening at 21:00.  Still in a relaxed state I started the process of uploading the files. I had a feeling that I should backup the work onto a memory stick, just in case of a power failure. Low and behold ten minutes later panic struck and I found myself in the dark!

As Murphy would have it we experienced a power failure. In a calm panic I rushed to set up my son's laptop (which fortunately had some battery life), used my phone as hotspot to connect the laptop to the Internet and started uploading the precious files I had saved on the memory stick.  I was not going to miss this deadline even if it means that I chuck the computer into the car and drive to the nearest 'power' house knocking on doors at eleven o'clock on a Sunday night!

Thanks to some fast typing skills and a minuscule amount of battery life, I managed to finish everything and pressed the submit button a few minutes before the clock struck 12!

Jo's winning artworks entered into the StateoftheART Gallery Award 2018.
Winning the award

I have discovered a wonderful supportive camaraderie between artists. Entering this competition connected me with fellow artists and like-minded people.

StateoftheART did not follow the typical art competition model. They invented a fresh and creative way of presenting this competition by changing the typical format and chronology of events. This meant that finalists had the opportunity to meet each other on social media before meeting in real life. I appreciated this since it eliminated the uncomfortable and sometimes pretentious awkwardness found at art competitions. On opening night, at the Finalist's Exhibition, it felt like a group of friends were meeting up again after years of not seeing each other and the gallery was filled with heartfelt chatter!

The amount of social media marketing that went into promoting the finalists was astonishing. This distinct characteristic of StateoftheART sets them apart from other galleries. They really do value the importance of online presence highly. To have your work and name be seen by thousands of people is a win in itself - a spin-off of being a finalist.

I already felt like a winner when they announced the top 10 finalists and later even more so when I saw my work exhibited amongst a group of extremely talented artists. Never would I have imagined that I would be the one who would be announced as winner.

It is one thing to set out goals. The challenge comes when action needs to be taken towards achieving these goals. Part of the process is working long hours, fighting through self-doubt and hoping that my work would be good enough. This is why I am extremely grateful for winning this award and gaining the recognition that it has afforded me. It is a self-doubt eliminator.

My excitement for my very first solo exhibition cannot be contained. I can hardly wait to share what I have been working on. I have been developing new ideas - which include introducing colour and other types of clay to add into the work. I am also exploring the possibilities of having three-dimensional pieces and installation work as part of the exhibition. See you there!
Save the Date for Jo's upcoming solo exhibition opening Thursday 2 May at StateoftheART Gallery.