For the StateoftheART Gallery Award 2021, we asked artists to find ways to engage with the reality of climate crisis and its impact on their own community; to create work to inspire and encourage societal change. The 10 finalists were chosen from more than 600 submissions from across South Africa, with the judges scoring the artists on the creativity, originality, and technical skill of their entries to this year's Award theme ‘On The Brink, Visualising Climate Change’.
The work of the shortlisted artists will go on show in a special exhibition at StateoftheART’s Cape Town gallery from 16 - 30 October 2021, and the winner announced at the Award Ceremony on 16 October 2021. The winner will receive a R40 000 cash prize and a solo exhibition with the gallery in 2022.
We asked the top ten Gallery Award Finalists some questions to help you get to know them before the Finalists Exhibition in October.
Learn more about the StateoftheART Gallery Award here>>
"The Estuary" by Janet Ormond. Ocean Plastic Pollution, 45 x 25cm
My name is Janet Ormond, I grew up in the coastal town of Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa and now live with my husband and two children not far from there in Kommetjie.
Growing up the Ocean was always something I was connected to enjoying the coastlines either from shore or on the water sailing.
Art has always been part of my life. I left high school to follow my love of art and finished with a commercial art matric at Cape College in Cape Town. After school I was drawn back to the ocean and worked in Tourism for 10 years for a boat charter company.
The past 8 years have been spent managing my own retail craft business and during this time my creativity was reignited.
It was just over 2 years ago that I started to work with the plastic pollution from my local beaches to create pieces of art. Through this process of working with this medium not only have I developed my own style as an artist, I have become more passionate about making a difference in my daily life and to bring awareness around the problems plastic pollution is causing.
1. Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and where do you currently live?I am a Capetonian, born and raised near the sea. I grew up in Hout Bay and now live close by in the small coastal town of Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula with my husband and two sons.
2. How did you learn about the Award and what made you want to enter?I heard about the award after contacting the gallery last September. It was suggested if I would like to have guidance as an emerging artist and possibly be represented by the gallery that I create a body of work to apply to the award with. This year’s theme “On the Brink: Visualising Climate Change” immediately resonated with me and I instantly knew that I had to apply.
3. Tell us about where you make your work.I collect the plastic material off the beaches that surround me on the Cape Peninsula. I then take it home to separate the useable plastic from the rest of the rubbish and wash it using our collected rainwater. Once I have sorted all the cleaned plastic, I take it up to my studio space in the loft area of my home.
4. What is your key inspiration as an artist? I am incredibly passionate about doing what I can to raise awareness about the impact that we have on our environment and at the same time I am inspired by nature and my surroundings. Also, I take inspiration from the ability to express myself through my own artistic activism to evoke thought through art that is both beautiful and devastating due to the material I use.
"The Riverbank" by Janet Ormond. Ocean Plastic Pollution, 28 x 40cm
5. Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?Every artwork generally starts with a cup of tea. Sometimes the piece is inspired by a specific fragment of plastic and an idea which evolves without much forward planning. Other times it begins with tea, a session on social media gathering inspiration from wildlife photographers and sketching up rough ideas.
6. How does your work convey the threat that climate change poses to our planet and country?All my work is made with plastic ocean pollution I have collected off the beaches of South Africa, that in itself is a very sad fact. I hope that my work can shed light on the devastating impact that plastic is having on the environment. My aim is for my work to convey the message that we are all not only part of this problem but also the solution.
Janet Ormond in studio.
7. How is your work relevant in a South African context? My work features elements of nature iconic to South Africa. Which reminds us how fortunate we are to live in a country full of incredible beauty due to the abundance of its unique biodiversity.
8. What do you think is the most urgent action required to tackle climate change in South Africa?South Africa is a developing country without the infrastructure to counter the ever-increasing stream of plastic pollution caused by the ripple effects of a growing population, economy and consumerism. We need to curb our plastic consumption by regulating the production and distribution of plastic in order to reduce our unmanaged waste.As with most problems, education is the key for a long-term solution.
9. Which South African artists, organisations or environmental activists do you find inspirational at the moment and why?This is a hard one, there are so many amazing people and organizations doing what they can to help make a difference.
I am currently in awe of the work of a bespoke clothing designer, Lara Klawikowski.Each piece is a work of art, created using recycled plastic and other textile waste. Her work, together with Twyg, a non-profit organization highlight the need for sustainable fashion.
The Litterbroom Project is an organization based in KZN. I applaud their campaign to create awareness around the impact pollution is having on our waterways and on the Ocean. They work tirelessly intercepting plastic pollution in the rivers and stopping it before it can reach the Sea.
Aaniyah Omardien, a Capetonian environmentalist with a big blue heart and founder of The Beach co-op. Aaniyah is passionate about the ocean and helps create much needed awareness in and around our beautiful city.
10. How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works? As a passionate Artivist it is a huge honour and incredible opportunity to be a part of this year’s award theme. I am so proud to be exhibiting with the other finalist who also care about their environment and use their own work as a voice to raise awareness about climate change.
"The Source" by Janet Ormond, Ocean Plastic Pollution, 60 x 40cm
11. What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?
It is a daunting and not always successful process to approach galleries with your work and vision. I think the award gives many artists a great opportunity to do so. 12. If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2022?
Wow, this is a big question! To have been selected from over 600 other South African artists already feels like a win. It would be a bonus if I was to now win overall and have the chance to share my work and passion. I would strive to create an impactful event that creates awareness, makes people reflect on their own past, present and future choices and remind people of the beauty of nature and how important it is to preserve it.
13. Finally, tell us something surprising about yourself.
I don’t normally have much patience. But it is something I seem to have an abundance of when creating my art.