Johannesburg-based artist Bulumko Mbete is the winner of the 2023 Cassirer Welz award. The announcement was made at an evening ceremony at Strauss & Co’s Johannesburg offices on 4 April.
The selection jury comprised of Bag Factory director Maria Fidel Regueros, Zinhle Zwane and young curator and researcher Boitumelo Makousu, Strauss & Co, Executive Director Susie Goodman, and Senior Art Specialist Wilhelm van Rensburg, who unanimously agreed that Mbete “is an exceptional multifaceted artist, whose interest in materiality; through the use of textile, beading, natural dyeing and weaving to communicate generational traditions and gestures of love, will benefit from the opportunity for substantial creative and professional growth.”
Mbete receives an intensive 3-month studio-based residency at the Bag Factory from 11 April – 10 June 2023 and funds towards a stipend, materials and production costs. The residency will culminate in a solo exhibition of newly created work at the Bag Factory with a public opening in July 2023.
Fellow finalists were Lusanda Ndita, Ciara Dunsby, Catriona Towriss, Chumani Bavulele Mantanga, Kuln’Zu, aka Fred Zucule, and the duo ToscaNeena.
The award, now its 12th year, is a joint venture between Bag Factory Artists’ Studios and Strauss & Co Education and Fine Art Auctioneers. Since its inception the award has grown in scope, with the 2023 call for entries including proposals by artists based in the following countries, some of which also form part of the Triangle Network: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Previous winners of the Cassirer Welz Award include artists such as Blessing Ngobeni, Nompumelelo Ngoma, Tshepo Mosopa, Asanda Kupa, Thato Nhlapho, Richard “Specs” Ndimande, Keneilwe Mokoena and Levy Pooe.