L’Atelier offers artists opportunity to excel

Mbatlo, the film, traces Collen's love affair with wood material, and his deep desire to continue his family's legacy of sculpting wood, using the traditional mbatlo tool.

The 32-year-old L’Atelier art competition is one of the most prestigious art competitions in Africa. It rewards young visual artists aged 21 to 35 with the opportunity to develop their talents abroad, it opens doors for young, emerging artists and provides them with a platform to share their art with the world.
A new film, Mbatlo, highlights the life-changing opportunities available for artists who excel in the L’Atelier art competition. These opportunities are highlighted in the new short film by L’Atelier merit award winner, Collen Maswanganyi.
Absa art and museum curator, Paul Bayliss, says that the Free State province always gives the rest of the country a run for their money during this competion. “Over the past four or five years, two of our winners have been from Bloemfontein. We’ve got Pauline Gutter, who is really an established artist now and has exhibited locally and internationally. And we’ve also had Elrie Joubert.”
Mbatlo is an extension of the exposure artists experience after winning the competition. It does more than just demonstrate how Collen Maswanganyi is able to transform rough, cast-off wood into engaging sculptures with stories to tell. It shows how Maswanganyi has been able to share his talent through the opportunities afforded to him by winning a L ‘Atelier Merit Award in 2010.
“This is a tool used to carve and shape wood. But it’s not just any tool. It’s special. It has been handed down from one generation to another. It has allowed me, my father and my grandfather to not only shape wood, but shape the future of African artists,” says Maswanganyi.
The competition is open to young artists between the ages of 21 to 35 in the 10 African countries where Barclays Africa has a footprint, namely South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles and, for the first time in 2017, Mozambique.
Artists can submit up to a maximum of three artworks, with works being physically delivered to collection points for initial adjudication. Physical works will not be accepted at the collection points if artists have not completed their online registration.
Independent adjudicators at the various collection points will then select the works that will go forward to the final adjudication round, which will be held in Johannesburg in June 2017.
Registration for L’Atelier is now open, and can be completed online at www.lateliercompetition.com. – Seithati Semenokane