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Department of Arts & Culture heralds UJ design students and alumni for innovative talent

Selected Thuthuka Awards jewellery pieces to be showcased at Hyde Park Corner.
Once again, students and graduates from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have proven that creativity and innovation knows no bounds with their exceptional award-winning jewellery designs recognised at the 2013 Thuthuka Jewellery Awards. This year’s winners were recently announced at a Gala Ceremony held at the UJ Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) Gallery on the Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus.


UJ students proved themselves worthy competitors, as they took away some of the prestigious awards. For the Innovation Award category, open to second-year design students, the award went to Milda Motshegwa from UJ. The category for Technical Excellence was jointly won by UJ student Nonhle Mzobe and Ayanda Myeza of Durban University of Technology. The award for Highly Commended Technique Across All Elements also went to UJ student Zadie Becker.
For the first time in 2013, selected jewellery pieces and budvases from the FADA exhibition, which was held at the FADA Gallery in October, will also be shown at the Hyde Park Corner from Tuesday, 26 November to Sunday, 8 December at the Exclusive Books Court.
Thuthuka focuses on talented aspirant young jewellery design students and provides inspiration and support for creative hands and minds. The competition has gained a reputation amongst jewellery design students across the country, and the public, as the benchmark for innovation and excellence in this industry. This year the theme for the participants was The African Bead – Transfigured, where students had to reconfigure the traditional African bead in a modern way.
The Thuthuka Jewellery Development Programme has been a Department of Arts and Culture sponsored project for the past six years. It is a partnership between tertiary education facilities, community jewellery schools, and independent designers aimed at identifying and developing design abilities of young talented designers to increase their chances of earning a living in the jewellery trade in South Africa or develop their skills to start their own businesses. The programme provides support for the students, assisting them make a meaningful contribution to the economy.
“Jewellery is a plausible way of making art with economic viability. It poses creative and conceptual challenges, and has an immediate market,” says Carola Ross, Founder and Director of Thuthuka Jewellery Development Programme.
“At Thuthuka we take a practical approach to jewellery skills development, combining focused one-to-one mentoring while encouraging critical and analytical thinking, key to the development of any good design. This equips aspiring jewellers with the tools they need to be successful in the trade”.
In addition, the project is about youth empowerment within the sector. This year a new element included was the introduction of young graduates acting as mentors to the younger student jewellers. “While creative professionals mentored aspirant jewellery designers on this project in the past, we have launched a new innovative project this year with the full endorsement of our partnering sponsor, The Department of Arts and Culture. Postgraduate students have been matched with community jewellery students who provide them with hands-on teaching and mentorship from their peers,” said Ross.
The young mentors have been keen and enthusiastic about transferring their skills to their undergraduate mentees. UJ’s very own, some of whom are previous Thuthuka winners, were among the 2013 Young Mentors, namely: Cailin Els – alumna and lecturer in the Department of Jewellery Design and Manufacture at UJ; Nikiwe Mathebula – alumna and past Thuthuka category winner from UJ and Argyris Papageorgiou – the 2009 Thuthuka Winner, UJ Graduate and Young mentor at the SEDA LIMPOPO Jewellery Incubator.
A selection of jewellery pieces from the 2013 Thuthuka Jewellery Awards Exhibition opens on Tuesday, 26 November and runs until Sunday, 8 December at the Hyde Park Corner, Corner Jan Smuts Avenue and William Nicol Drive, entrance on 6th Road, Johannesburg.​
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