Saturday, May 8, 2010
The Striding Man awards
My favourite function of this week was the JOHNNIE WALKER STRIDING MAN AWARDS, held at Turbine Hall. On arrival I met decor magician Rudi de Wet, who had done the tables, settings and food.
The Turbine Hall is one of Joburg's best spaces, interestingly because I remember it in the 90s as a derelict shell populated by squatters, with every single window broken. It has since been transformed into a fabulous venue, next door to solar-powered AngloGold Ashanti's offices, and Rudi's touches did justice to the space. I have been to several events here, and loved every one because of the light and shadow, the artwork, the nooks and crannies and industrial infrastructure of Turbine Hall. Rudi had set up two long tables inside the venue, set with tall perspex candles, silver tableware and the most fabulous floral arrangements (for example sections of equisitum aka horsetail, bent and twisted in interesting shapes in bulbous white ceramic vases, and then leading into secondary vases). The place glowed with light and reflections and images from the ad campaign flickered on screens on the wall, a black and white shrine to the brand.
Johnnie Walker could have chosen to make the event a conspicuous consumption affair - a party for the likes of the ANC Youth League and their tenderpreneurship cronies all guzzling up the Johnnie Walker Blue and Gold, a la Big Bad Bob. Instead the brand chose to be socially responsible and had four categories: business, environment, art and design with three finalists in each, all powerful players in their own fields.
Arts category winner ... Welcome Msomi, an accomplished author whose name has become synonymous with Zulu literature. He is the founder of the IZulu Dance theatre and Music and responsible for launching the Zulu version of the Lion King, which he launched for Ster Kinekor.
Business category winner ... financial rights activist Max Maisela who pioneered the formation of an independent company, NBC, to help protect and best benefit the unique retirement needs of black employees in apartheid South Africa.
Talented photographer Andrew Brauteseth had been commissioned to shoot the portraits of each finalist, as well as stills for the Striding Man ad campaign - a mammoth task which involved ten locations around the country in two days, from the lofty columns of UCT to the poorest townships of the Cape,
... from the urban landscapes of our cities such as the interior of the Market Theatre to the wind whipped coastlines.
These are his pictures that you see on my blog ... I just love them!
The wonderful thing about the awards was that each winner received a R125 000 prize package was he spends, not on himself but on beneficiaries of his own choice.
Simon's bursary fund will cover tuition for course work programme or M Phil degrees in the environmental and geographical studies, urban design with emphasis on sustainable cities, architecture with emphasis on green buildings or engineering or science to develop sustainable technologies.
Winner of environment award ... planner and urban designer from Cape Town, Simon Nicks. He is a committed environmentalist whose aim it is to “design places that are nice to live in with minimal impact on our planet's resources”.
Welcome's prize money will help resuscitate a community art centre and theatre in Durban called the Stable Theatre. The funding will help rejuvenate the centre which offers performance and rehearsal space as well as an easily accessible venue for workshops or seminars. The venue is a home for all arts and allows artists to present exhibitions, writers to host book launches, film-makers to premiere their films and poets to entrance audiences with their work.
Max on the other hand is using his R125 000 prize money to pay for tuition fees for eight elected pension fund trustees for a Graduate Diploma in Trusteeship at Monash University South Africa.
Design star ... young architect Mokena Makeka, who is currently redesigning Cape Town Station for the new public transport system. His first professional assignment was to design a series of police stations at key railway stations. He will use all his prize money to create an Academy for Creative Excellence to help others succeed.
PS: See my column in The Citizen next week for more on the Striding Man awards!