At the gala event held at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery on the evening of 4 April 2018, upcoming young artist Chris Soal was announced as the overall winner of the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2018. The 24-year-old sculptor, a fine arts graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand, garnered R150 000 in prize money, and participation in an eight-month-long nationwide travelling exhibition.

Soal’s winning piece, entitled “Imposed Structure to the Detriment of the Members”, consists of cement cast into the shape of a deflated and scuffed soccer ball, through which a construction rebar has been forced. This sculpture lies on the floor, leaning up against the wall, as dejected, pierced and deflated as abandoned soccer balls often are.

The work speaks not only to the realities of growing up in a city environment, where soccer is played in the streets, on concrete and tar, but also to the relationship of soccer to South African industry. One example of this relationship is the 2010 FIFA World Cup. To this day, questions are posed regarding the event’s benefit for the country. 

Soal’s artwork was chosen as the winner by the PPC Imaginarium Awards national judging panel. The panel includes globally acclaimed contemporary artist Mary Sibande and Daniel van der Merwe (who heads the PPC Imaginarium Awards), in addition to renowned local artist Stephen Hobbs and UJ Art Gallery curator Annali Dempsey, bringing a wealth of industry know-how to the judging of South Africa’s top art and design contest.

The national judges were also responsible for choosing the various category winners and runners-up, as follows:


Aleks Ashton
Runner-up: Daniella Sachs

Winner: Gabrielle Foulis

Runner-up: Nangamso Dana


Chris Soal
Runner-up: Franli Meintjes


Winner: Giovanni Zambri
Runner-up: Anton van Reenen

Phumulani Ntuli

Each of the category winners received R50 000 in cash with the runners-up getting R15 000, bringing the total prize money for the competition to half-a-million-Rand. These winners were chosen from a record number of 62 national finalists from 302 regional entrants, topping last year’s number, which saw 55 finalists chosen from 869 regional entries. 

Growing from strength to strength each year of its existence, the award-winning competition has once again outstripped expectations with a dazzling selection of concrete pieces by upcoming local talent. The awards programme has been in existence for four years, with entrants submitting work across a number of categories, including film, fashion, sculpture, jewellery, industrial design and architecture.

Artwork Above: Aleks Ashton, Tiara of the Heart and Head

Artwork Top: PPC Imaginarium Winner, Chris Soal, Imposed Structure to the Detriment of the Members

Earlier this year, regional entries for the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards were showcased in a series of pop-up public exhibitions held in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth during February 2018. Regional entries were judged by experts, practitioners, scholars, artists and curators. Award-winning artist and curator Raimi Gbadamosi judged entries from Pretoria, which sent 12 finalists to the national gala exhibition. Mary Sibande and accomplished curator Rolihlahla Mhlanga judged Johannesburg’s entries, choosing 29 finalists, while Tumelo Mosaka, whose stellar career led to his appointment as the curator of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, chose 11 finalists from Cape Town. Award-winning sculptors Mellaney Ruiters and Eugene Hlophe chose three entries from Port Elizabeth and two from Durban, respectively, and Adelheid von Maltitz, sculptor and fine art lecturer at the University of the Free State, selected one from Bloemfontein. Documentary filmmaker and visual artist Wessel van Huyssteen chose four finalists for the film category of the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards. 

Unlike in previous years, entries in the Architecture category will be showcased and judged at the 2018 Architecture ZA conference, replacing the prestigious Des Baker Award for outstanding work by an architecture student. “The winner will be seen as the best design student currently enrolled for a degree in architecture,” says Van der Merwe.

The full list of 2018 finalists, classified per category (excluding architecture), can be viewed online, including the Art Times website. Works by all the national finalists, including the winners, will be on exhibition at the UJ Art Gallery from 4-25 April 2018. The UJ Art Gallery has received a grant from Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) to support an educational workshop focusing on the power of innovation through the medium of cement. This free workshop will be held at the gallery on 3 May 2018 and is open to art and design students from any tertiary institution.

After its stop at the UJ Art Gallery, the finalists’ work will form part of the awards’ prestigious travelling exhibition, visiting platforms like the Turbine Art Fair and 100% Design South Africa 2018 in Gauteng, the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, and the KZNSA Gallery in Durban. “The initiative has enabled and empowered more artists and designers than any comparable project in South Africa,” states Van der Merwe.

For its role in supporting local developing artists and designers, the PPC Imaginarium Awards has been recognised by several Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards. The PPC Imaginarium Awards has now extended its reach from South Africa to Zimbabwe, and is running its first PPC Imaginarium Awards in Zimbabwe in 2018.