Last week, the best and deserving visual artists in Botswana got the fruits of their labour at the 11th edition of Thapong Artist of the Year Awards (TAYA). After yet another year of creativity and improvement, MMEGI STAFFER MOMPATI TLHANKANE looks at the award winning works and artists of TAYA 2015
This year has seen growth in the number of participants from last year and more young artists dominated the submitted works. With more than P390,000 invested towards the awards, a total of eight artists walked away with decorations including the most prestigious overall Thapong Artist of the Year award.
Kelebogile Tshegofatso Marope - TAYA Overall Winner
Marope is the second woman to win the most prestigious award since inception of the awards 11 years ago. She has changed the way we look at art with her iron print canvas piece.
Though not titled, Marope’s artwork looks like animal footprints. In an interview, she explains she has so much love for domestic spaces. “I mostly use domestic objects and I was bound to work with iron prints,” she says.
Marope says she likes to bring life into an inanimate object. Marope, who is an art graduate from Rhodes University in South Africa, reveals she was taught to do various arts but sculpture is her greatest strength. She was part of the team that built the historic Elephant Sculpture at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
Elisha Mukweveri - Second best TAYA Winner
His ‘culture reclaims identity’ drawing shows a portrait of media personality Gaona Tlhasana surrounded by medieval images of Botswana mostly dominated by the Basarwa clan. The subject in the portrait gazes happily towards the images of ancient Botswana.
The black and white pencil compliments the beautiful picture.
The 20-year-old Mukweveri from Zimbabwe says he wanted to put across a concept of culture restoration. He says the picture of Tlhasana represent the youth who are now beginning to appreciate Botswana culture through attire. “I thought I was going to win in my category but nevertheless I got a chance to put my art piece in the gallery for people to interact with it.”
Totang Motoloki Young Artist Winner
The 33-year-old painter’s mmele or morabaraba paint is one of the remarkable pieces that can ignite old memories for those who played traditional games in the past.
His award does not come as a surprise for a man who won the first position in the Painting Category at the Presidential Awards last year.
Though he did not win in the category of painting at the TAYA 2015, Motoloki told Arts & Culture that he grew up in the rural areas so his piece was inspired by his experience.
He says he joined Thapong in 2001 and had been part of the awards now and then. “I have been participating and finally I won the award and it is a motivation for me. I will keep on working hard."
Olemogeng Qaeqhao Maaramele Moses –Print-Making Winner
Animals mostly dominate the man from Gantsi’s art and all of them are displayed in black and white colours.
He started the craft in 1994 and he was previously part of the Kuru Development Trust, but later joined Thapong in 2002. Moses explains in an interview that he had taken break from the awards in recent years to give youngsters a chance. “I am preparing for an exhibition in the UK next year March, so I wanted to see if I am ready,” he says.
Emmanuel Senamolela - Ceramic Winner
Senamolela’s decorated vase is one of the most peculiar craft in this year’s artworks.
Made out of clay, the pots also have a representation of a modern day outfits depicted by the strings and beads.
The 35-year-old man from Mmankgodi says he wanted to show that western culture is slowly eating away our culture.
“The round shape of the pots represents Botswana culture. People these days have adopted the western culture and one day it will be extinct.”
Ogopoleng Kgomoethata - Photography Winner
His black and white ‘we are members’ photo is very striking and the cross in the picture creates curiosity at an instant.
The picture shows a bicycle known as hamba packed next to a wooden cross and a dog staring at the cross.
Kgomoethata says the picture doesn’t need any explanation because of its ability to speak to the viewer.
Kgomoethata, who is a trained fine artist and a photographer by profession, says this year he did not perform like last year when he won the second best TAYA.
Mutero Twaimango - Sculpture Winner
Working with hard wood to make a sculpture is one of the hardest things to achieve, but the 42-year-old from Maun did an outstanding job with his tree fish eagle sculpture.
“I work mostly with animals and I have been doing this business out of interest since 2012,” he explains.
Tshepiso Mphetolang - Craft Winner
The way she has experimented with thread and needle is quite an inspiration and her winning artwork ‘sunset dancers’ is quite amazing to gaze at. “It shows medieval women dancing in the sunset.
I wanted to portray women’s worth,” she says. Mphetolang says she expected a tough competition in her category and intends to put her embroidery into a much bigger cloth.