The recipient of the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts 2007 is Paul Edmunds. The R100 000 award is made annually to a young South African artist of exceptional ability. The artist must already have produced some striking work, to critical acclaim, but not yet be widely recognised. In making this unconditional award, the Tollman family provides an opportunity for the artist to work towards an exhibition, study further or travel abroad.
Paul 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, Paul 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. 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.’ Paul’s work features in a number of prominent private and public collections.
Paul 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, Paul 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 is discussed with previous winners of the award, among others.
The Tollman family grew up in South Africa and their formative years were spent here. Although they left the country to pursue business interests, South Africa never left them. Due to the positive changes that have happened over the past decade, they have been reinvesting in South Africa, focusing on tourism and the wine industry. They have also been inspired to support and encourage the extraordinary creativity in the visual arts that they have encountered in the new South Africa which has led to the creation and birth of this award.
Past Tollman Award winners are Wim Botha and Churchill Madikida (joint winners 2003), Mustafa Maluka (2004); Zanele Muholi (2005) and Nicholas Hlobo (2006).
Joáo Ferreira Gallery, 5 - 29 October 2020