‘A sickening symbol of sloth’

Absa L'Atelier
Wilhelmina Nell No Evidence Of A Struggle | SA

South African artist Wilhelmina Nell has been awarded the Second Merit Award at the 2017 Absa L’Atelier.   

Wilhelmina Nell (b.1990) obtained a BA (FA) from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2014. She was a finalist in the L’Atelier competition in 2014. Nell’s winning work, No Evidence of a Struggle, is made from bronze, wax paper and wood. ‘Growing up, I was told that the crust of a loaf of bread contained the most nutrients and as such it is very important to always eat it, should I wish to grow up healthy,’ she says. ‘This seemed reasonable since it matched up with all the other life lessons I was being taught, which emphasised the importance of hard work and good behaviour, no matter how unpleasant it may be. I was assured that diligent behaviour was the key to a happy and successful future. As such, the discarded lunchbox – filled with untouched crusts – became a sickening symbol of sloth. It is the mark of a person unwilling to be proactive in their success, in a world where I was told good deeds and actions always yield good results and misfortune is brought on through one’s own faults.’ Nell’s win includes a two-month residency at the Sylt Foundation on the Island of Sylt, Germany. The residency includes an apartment on the island, a return flight to Germany and a monthly stipend.

Read more about the 2017 L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

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