Archive: Issue No. 119, July 2007

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Paul Edmunds

Paul Edmunds
Span 2006 - 7
140 x 100 x 100 cm

Paul Edmunds scoops the 2007 Tollman Award

Our own sub-editor Paul Edmunds was the recipient of the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts 2007 - although not in his capacity at ArtThrob. The R100 000 award is made annually to a young South African artist of exceptional ability. The requirements of the award are that the artist must already have produced some striking work, to critical acclaim, but not yet be widely recognised.

Edmunds was born in Johannesburg in 1970, and obtained both a BAFA and MAFA (with distinction) at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg. He won the Volkskas Atelier Award in 1992 and spent most of the following year at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Although he initially studied painting, Edmunds is primarily a sculptor and has also explored printmaking in the last few years. His early sculptural work drew on craft processes, both contemporary and traditional, often employing these with unusual materials. Edmunds has become known for understated designs executed through fastidious manual industry. Made from cheap, often disposable materials, the process of assembly and construction is where the artist creates meaning. In his own words, 'My work is characterised by an unconventional use of materials and cumulative processes as well as an ongoing exploration of pattern. On the cusp between abstraction and representation, my work seems more concerned with process than depiction.'

Edmunds' work features in a number of prominent private and public collections. Edmunds has held a number of solo shows in Cape Town, at both the João Ferreira Gallery and the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet. He made his solo debut in Johannesburg at Art on Paper earlier this year. He has taken part in numerous group exhibitions, notably 'Images of Self', curated by Clive van den Berg at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in 2000, and 'Bodies II: Sublimation', curated by Kathryn Smith at the same venue in 2002. In 2005, Edmunds took part in 'In the Making: process and material', curated by Sophie Perryer at the Michael Stevenson Gallery.

A committee comprising Gabi Ngcobo, Curator/Head of Research, Cape; Rochelle Keene, Curator of the Adler Museum at the University of the Witwatersrand; Walter Oltmann, an artist and lecturer in Fine Art at Wits, and Michael Stevenson, an art dealer and art historian, draw up a shortlist based on work they have seen in the past year which interestingly is discussed with previous winners of the award, among others.

Past Tollman Award winners are Wim Botha and Churchill Madikida (joint winners 2003), Mustafa Maluka (2004); Zanele Muholi (2005) and Nicholas Hlobo (2006).