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The 2017 PPC Imaginarium Awards

South Africa’s most supportive art and design competition, the PPC Imaginarium Awards, announced its overall winner, category winners and runners-up at a gala event hosted on 18 May 2017 at the UJ Art Gallery in Johannesburg.

The winners were selected from the competition’s 55 finalists who submitted their concrete art and design works across the categories of sculpture, industrial design, fashion, jewellery and film (no architecture submissions made it to the finalist round this year). Last year, up-and-coming jeweller Mignon Daubermann scooped the top prize with her exquisitely crafted pair of tinted cement rings. This year, emerging artist Mziwoxolo Makalima impressed the judges with his thought-provoking sculpture submission titled Doubt-Queuing, securing him the prestigious titles of 2017 PPC Imaginarium Overall Winner and Sculpture Category Winner, as well as a total cash prize of R150 000. Makalima’s sculpture, which is fashioned out of concrete and mild steel, aims to be the voice of a voiceless, subjugated society. Doubt-Queuing represents a group of community members who have stood for so long waiting and hoping for change, and who have remained as strong as concrete. The concrete represents the strength of the community that has had to endure a queue of unfulfilled promises that seem to have been extended ever since the dawn of social equality called democracy.

Left | Deon de Lange Industrial Design Runner-up 2017 | Right | Sonwabiso Ngcai Sculpture Runner-up 2017

Makalima further explains the concept behind his work: “For our society, it is time to let go of ‘rotten’ reinforcing. By doing so, this does not mean our concrete society has lost its strength. It only means it can make a stand. We are taken advantage of and treated as stepping-stones, while our votes only gave us seconds of fame. Today, we are tired of waiting and yet we go back to waiting. This waiting has become the trademark of our liberation, waiting, hoping for change. This is a long wait for promises made by those who call themselves leaders. Now, we wait because we are starting to think that maybe we should just be so grateful for our freedom that we should not want to be anything more than just voters.”

Left | Aleks Ashton Jewellery Runner-up 2017 | Right| Tshepo Phokojoe Fashion Runner-up 2017

The competition’s category winners and runners-up also fared well in terms of cash prizes, each walking away with R50 000 and R15 000 respectively. All winners, including the overall winner, are also awarded with extensive public exposure by way of a nationwide travelling exhibition, media exposure and mentorships.

The 2017 PPC Imaginarium Awards’ Category Winners and Runners-up, classified per category, are as follows:


Mziwoxolo Makalima Sculpture Winner

Overall Winner and Category Winner: Mziwoxolo Makalima – Doubt-Queuing

‘Doubt-Queueing is an artwork aimed at being the voice of a voiceless subjugated society. The artwork articulates a group of community members that have stood for so long and remain as strong concrete, holding to reinforcing while it was still in good condition.

‘The concrete represents the strength of a hoping community. A slight agitation in a queue of promises that seem to have been extended from the year of social equality called democracy. It is time to let go of rotten reinforcing. By doing so does not mean our concrete society has lost its strength, it only means it can make a stand. We are taken advantage of and used as stepping-stones when our votes gave us seconds of fame?   

‘Today we seem to celebrate years of rioting because we are tired of waiting and yet we go back to waiting. This is a waiting we have done so well, and it has become the trademark of our liberation, waiting, hoping for change. This is a long wait for promises made by those who call themselves leaders. Now we wait because we are starting to think maybe we should be so grateful for our freedom to want to be anything more than just voters.

‘We have walked around with buckets full of hope and we wait, hoping that today a promise made will be fulfilled.’

Runner-up: Sonwabiso Ngcai – Emweka


Handre de la Rey Industrial Design Winner

Category Winner: Handre de la Rey – CS Project

‘The CS project is the latest concept from design studio 20 eight. The entry explores the possibility of creating a pair of ultra-thin sunglasses that push the perceived boundaries of cement-based products. The concept was developed over a period of five years and will be realised through 3D modelling and desktop prototyping.

‘In the execution of this design, cement will be used to make up the structure of the main body (the frame of the glasses).

‘The piece will be broken down into smaller parts that can be adjusted to individual user’s specific requirements. Two concrete circles, suspended in a 3D-printed bridge, create the main body, and this can then be connected to interchangeable temples.

‘Inspiration for the entry comes from the work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando. His use of bold geometry, clean proportions and natural material, informs the design process.’

Runner-up: Deon de Lange – Kilroy


Cara Jade Bezuidenhout Fashion Winner

Category Winner: Cara Jade Bezuidenhout – Concrete Journey

‘In a society that places so much attention on outward appearances, don’t you find it strange that when you think of cement, the first thing you think of is the powder and not the bag it comes in? In its raw state, cement is motionless and cannot be moved without a bag in which to carry it. The two work hand-in-hand and result in our ability to make beautiful, memorable and long-lasting things to share with future generations. We, as humans, need to start to realise that outward appearances are nothing without our inward spirit and personality. The one cannot be without the other and that is what inspired this collection – “the bag cannot be without the cement or it would lose its purpose and the cement would be stationary without its bag”.

‘Through the use of modern technology in the form of digital printing, the designer is able to create wearable garments that reflect the true beauty of the cement and cement bag. She has incorporated both digital printing as well as the use of upcycled cement bags and physical cement to create three ensembles.

‘The first outfit is a menswear piece. Its main focus is the cement bag coat, which opens slightly to reveal cement-treated garments beneath. This reflects the process of opening a newly bought bag of cement when the dust starts to settle.

‘The second “look” is a womenswear piece. This focuses on the cement bag once it has already been opened to reveal the contents – cement and its possibilities.

‘The final “look” is a couture piece. This reflects the beauty created through the use of the cement that was found in the cement bag.

‘The collection shows us the importance of changing our perspective to focus on both the inner and outer beauty of ourselves, and others. Change starts with us. #iamasouthafricannotacolour’

Runner-up: Tshepo Sizwe Phokojoe – Dawn of a new epoch


Zanele Vilakazi Jewellery Winner

Category Winner: Zanele Vilakazi – Alphga

‘Time is a precious thing that cannot be saved nor over-used, it cannot be fast-forwarded nor paused, it’s priceless, and yet it’s free. The “Alphga” piece is inspired by the passage of time and the unbreakable and inevitable stages of life. It consists of three different parts that elaborate on the process of life, demonstrating how every life form changes from its beginning, to its prime, to its maturity. The first part shows the very birth of life and its gradual, vulnerable growth; the second segment portrays various developments as life progresses; and the last part depicts the stage when life has matured and aged.’

Runner-up: Aleks Ashton – Cyberglyph



Category Winner: Stefanus Nel – Ben’s Ladder

‘Illustrated using simple line drawings, this stop-frame animation film depicts the story of a little boy who comes home from school one day to realise that his cat is gone. He asks his mom, who tells him that his cat has gone to heaven. The little boy wants to go to heaven to bring his cat back but he doesn’t know how to get there. So one night he decides to build a ladder made from cement. He knows the ladder has to be strong enough to reach up into the sky and long enough to reach heaven. After many long nights, the ladder is completed and the time has come for him to climb up to heaven and bring his cat back home. When he gets there he finds his cat chasing stars. The stars try to get away from the cat and become shooting stars. He realises his cat is happy and the little boy climbs down the ladder. At night whenever he sees a shooting star he is reminded that his cat is happy and having fun. The underlying thought of the story is this: “Imagine anything!”’

Runner-up: There was no 2017 Film Runner-up


The 2017 winners were selected by a formidable panel of industry heavyweights, including architect and director of the awards, Daniel van der Merwe; fashion and design consultant Allana Finley; and well-known curators Stephen Hobbs and Zanele Mashumi. A project of the innovation department of PPC Ltd, the PPC Imaginarium Awards encourages the ingenious use of Portland-based cement across the competition’s various categories. It serves as a platform for highlighting exceptional South African creative talent and assisting emerging artists and designers to launch their careers. A winner of several BASA Awards, the PPC Imaginarium Awards has cemented PPC Ltd as a benevolent supporter of art and design in South Africa. Members of the public will have the opportunity to view and engage with the finalists’ works, including works by the overall winner, category winners and runners-up, at an exhibition at the UJ Art Gallery in Johannesburg, which will run until 15 June 2017. The UJ Art Gallery is the first stop of a nationwide travelling exhibition that includes a variety of auspicious galleries and events across the country, such as 100% Design South Africa in Cape Town and the KZNSA Gallery in Durban.

To stand a chance of winning a share of R500 000 in cash prizes and kick-starting your career, enter the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards in one of the competition’s six categories, namely: sculpture, industrial design, fashion, jewellery, film and architecture. Entries officially open on 18 May 2017. For more information on the PPC Imaginarium Awards, visit

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