Five finalists and a winner have been announced for the first SA Taxi
Foundation Art Award, marking the first cross over between art and graphic
design as an award criterion and the first time art will be taken to the
public as a moving exhibition – on minibus taxis.
Artists were tasked with creating a work of art around the theme of
‘destination’ and then interpreting that work as a decal to be carried on
The winner of the competition, Tshepo Mosapa, receives a cash prize of R50
000. Each of the five finalists, Alison Riordan, Bev Butkow, Hiten Mohanlal
Bawa, Khanyisa Dada, and Ross Passmoor receive a cash prize of R10 000. In
addition to their artwork being displayed at the Lizamore & Associates
Gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg, during the month of April, each artist’s
winning design will also be displayed on 10 minibus taxis in different
areas of the country for a period of six months.
Art critic, historian, and mentor, Mary Corrigall, one of the three judges
of the competition, says that the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award will have
the effect of democratising art.
“The transience of the art, which will be seen in flashes as its moving
canvas weaves in and out of traffic, lends it a different kind of value;
‘embedding’ artistic expression into the fabric of people’s lives.
“This allows the art to function as something that is not object-based –
something to be acquired, admired and ‘understood’ – but as part of daily
existence. Apart from giving the six finalists a chance to affirm the value
of their work to society, the process triggered by this award challenges
our creative industry as a whole to think beyond conventional ways of
displaying design and art.”
Award winning public artist, Donna Kukama, another of the judges, feels
that the award creates a rare connection among different cultures and
societies within South Africa, with unexpected links being forged between
the minibus taxi industry with its millions of black commuter customers and
the high art community normally restricted to formal galleries and middle
and upper class white patrons.
“It is rare, if not nearly impossible to come across art awards that
require artists to be fluent in both the language of the gallery space as
well as that of the public sphere.
“The type of artist that this award attracts and recognises is one that is
able to not only creatively manipulate what has been accepted as our
reality, but also someone with the skill to translate concepts across
worlds that were previously perceived as miles apart.”
Dion Chang, innovation and trend specialist and founder of Flux Trends,
said in his notes for the catalogue that accompanies the Lizamore &
Associates Gallery exhibition of the finalists’ work: “Placing art works on
taxis – the mode of transport that so many millions of South African’s rely
on – is a stroke of genius.
“The SA Taxi Foundation should be applauded for embarking on this
initiative, as well as their right brain thinking. Placing artworks on
mini-bus taxis brings the art world out of its perceived ivory tower and
onto the streets – where it can initiate recognition of the creative
“It is only recently that governments have started to acknowledge the
contribution the creative industries make to a country’s GDP. Formerly
silo’ed industries like the art and business worlds are starting to
converge, collaborate, and coexist, but it is a tentative and wary dance.
Embedding art – and in this case, moving art – into the lives and minds of
South Africans who might not otherwise be exposed to the emotive role of
art could leap frog perceptions and awareness. That can only have positive
Kalnisha Singh, director of the SA Taxi Foundation, said the organisers
were gratified to have more than 80 entries in the award’s first year.
“Much older art competitions rarely have more than 200 entries. Clearly,
the art world understands and appreciates our objective of providing a
solid and credible platform, through a juried and curated exhibition held
at a reputable gallery, through which emerging artists can contribute to
their career building efforts.
“Specifically, they appreciate that we are doing so by enabling fresh
consideration of the role of the artist in both industry and society.
“For us, the award broadens our active citizenry beyond the financing of
minibus taxis and, thereby, incubating small businesses. It enables us to
implement another sustainable project that contributes to the communities
within which we operate – and to leave people better off as a result of our
The judges were unanimous in naming Pretoria born Tshepo Masopo as the
first winner of the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award. He was also the
of the Reinhold Cassirer Award (2011) supported by Nadine Gordimer
at the Bag Factory Artists Studio, has won a number of other art
awards, and has participated in local and international residencies. He is
full time resident artist at the Bag Factory Artist Studios.
His winning artwork, Transit, depicts people in the various attitudes they
adopt when riding in minibus taxis.
Finalist Bev Butkow, married mother of four and a certified accountant,
gave up her formal career at the age of 40 to devote herself to art. She
seeks to integrate her community work into her art. Part of the proceeds
from the sale of her work goes towards community projects.
Hiten Bawa is an architect in training with a focus on universal design
consultancy. He is committed to improving accessibility in the built
environment and challenging socio-cultural attitudes and perceptions
towards people with disabilities.
Khanyisa Dada, a Johannesburg raised and Cape Town based art student in her
third year of visual art at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School
of Art, focuses on sculpture but is also a skilled painter and digital
Raised in Hilton near Pietermaritzburg, Ross Passmoor initially studied
ceramics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, going on to achieve his
Masters Degree (Cum Laude) focusing primarily on printmaking. After
teaching for a while in Durban, he moved to Johannesburg to pursue a career
in art and has had residencies at Assemblage Studios and the Bag Factory
studios in Newton.
Alison Riordan, a graphic designer from Cape Town, has worked in
advertising agencies locally and overseas and has sold her work in Canada,
Australia, and Europe. Her artworks have been made into mosaics by Spier
The judges made two special awards, one to fourth year art student, Banele
Khoza, for outstanding artwork and the other to graphic designer, Kingsley
Palime, for outstanding decal design.