Kenan sends a message through a necklace

An Athlone artist’s interpretation of a necklace, which he made from concrete and hessian, has caught the eye of judges in a national art and design competition.

Kenan Petersen’s provocative design is one of the finalists in the Western Cape, and will be competing for the national prize of the PPC Imaginarium Awards.

Instead of precious stones or pearls one usually associates with it, Mr Petersen’s necklace is a replica of a tyre, and pays tribute to those who lost their lives by this brutal method of execution.

The 26-year-old emerging artist, said he hoped that with this piece of work, the people who died after being necklaced, would be properly mourned.

“Concrete is so raw and the subject of the artwork is so raw. There is something powerful in that,” Mr Petersen said.

Although he is too young to have experienced the political climate during the time of the struggle against apartheid, he said he was inspired to do this piece, because topics like this, is what is often being discussed among his circle of friends and acquaintances.

“The movement is strong. Those kinds of conversations crop up. The people I am surrounded by, like filmmakers, photographers or directors, end up in the same circles. We don’t need to shy away from the fact that often creatives align with activists.

“People like Malcolm X, for example, was very academic, but in using him, artists could capture the imagination of the public,” he said.

He added that he had not imagined that his artwork might make it to the finals of the competition.

“I view my work in the same way as one would view one’s child. Right now, my work is no longer in my care, because it is all grown up. If my child wins, I will be happy for my child, but if not, I will not love my child any less, and will still be proud. I will celebrate either way.”

The PPC Imaginarium Awards is an art and design competition, with R500 000 in prizes, mentorship and exposure opportunities up for grabs.

Mr Petersen’s thought-provoking entry responds to the PPC Imaginarium Awards’ brief to create an artwork that demonstrates an understanding of concrete as an artistic medium.

His is but one of many innovative and intriguing creations by a number of emerging creatives that will be on display as part of the PPC Imaginarium Awards’ finalists’ display at the Art Africa Fair, which runs until Sunday March 5 at the V & A Waterfront, Cape Town.

Thereafter, the “Necklace” will travel to an exhibition that opens on Thursday May 18 at the UJ Gallery in Johannesburg, and will also be showcased at the Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg, the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, and 100% Design South Africa in Johannesburg later this year.