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Visual Art exhibition: SPI National Portrait Award exhibition

​Excitement is mounting in the Northern provinces for the SPI National Portrait Award exhibition with works by the selected top 40 portrait artists to be opened at the UJ Art Gallery on 23 October 2013.​​

This award initiated by Sanlam Private Investments in collaboration with the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery in Durbanville in 2012 attracted an unanticipated 1783 entries by 1200 artists for the final adjudication earlier in 2013.


A prize of R 100 000.00 was awarded to Heather Gourlay-Conyngham. Born in Durban in 1956, Gourlay-Conyngham now lives in Hilton in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. She has worked as an art teacher and painter since graduating with a BA Fine Arts from the University of Natal in 1978 and a Higher Education Diploma in 1980 from the University of South Africa. Her paintings focus primarily on the human form.

Modeled on the London based National Portrait Gallery, BP Portrait Award, the competition invited entries in any medium with the exclusion of lens based media such photography, television and film.

There has been enough common understanding of the principle of what a “portrait” entails that made for an exciting and animated process of selecting the 40 works for exhibition and to adjudicate which work was worthy of the award.

The independent panel of three adjudicators consisted of Hayden Proud, curator for Historical Painting and Sculptures at the Iziko SA National Gallery in Cape Town, Vulindlela Nyoni, a lecturer in printmaking at the University of Stellenbosch, and artist and art teacher Susanne du Toit. Du Toit recently scooped the prestigious 2013 BP Portrait Award in the United Kingdom. All the adjudicators have had extensive experience in making art, teaching and serving as adjudicators on other competitions. This, combined with their personal experiences and current active practice provided for a suitable combination of insights that undoubtedly contributed to the selection of a deserving award winner.

The convener of the panel, Stefan Hundt, curator of the Sanlam Art Collection and Head: Sanlam Private Investments Art Advisory Service commended the judges for their “exceptional dedication in making a very difficult decision, given the large number of entries received”.

The national touring exhibition can be seen at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery from 23 October to 13 November, and at Stephan Welz & Co at the Alphen Estate in Constantia, Cape Town, from 26 November to 10 January 2014. It will be hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts during April 2014

Notes to Editors

UJ ARTS & CULTURE is a world-class performing and visual arts facility offering a wide range of vocational and hands-on practical training programmes in various aspects of the performing arts on all four UJ campuses. The UJ Arts Centre is located on the Kingsway Campus and comprises an art gallery, a 436-seater state of the art theatre, dance studios and choir rooms. Other facilities include the intimate Experimental Theatre on the Kingsway Campus and the 150-seater Con Cowan Theatre and dance studios on the Bunting Road Campus. In addition to producing student drama, dance and musical theatre, these venues also serve as receiving houses for professional South African and international productions, concerts, exhibitions and events.

SPI National Portrait Award exhibition

Dates: 23 October – 13 November 2013

OPENING Wednesday 23 October 2013 at 18:30 for 19:00 by Stefan Hundt, Curator: Sanlam Art Collection and Head: Sanlam Private Investments Art Advisory Service

WALKABOUT Wednesday 6 November 2013 at 10:30


Heather Gourlay Conyngham Award Winner
Heather Gourlay-Conyngham:
“A Young Man”,
Oil on linen canvas: 177 x 80 cm



Angela Banks
Angela Banks:
“Professor Brown”
Oil on canvas: 150 x 120 cm


Julia Caroline Teale
Julia Caroline Teale:
“The Present of Vermeer’s Future”
Oil on canvas:98 x 82 cm


UJ Art Gallery:

CONTACT: ​ Tel: 011 559 2099 Mail:

GALLERY HOURS:Mon– Fri: 09:00 – 18:00, Sat: 09 00 –13 00

Closed on public holidays

​LOCATION: APK Campus, Cor. Kingsway/University Rd, Auckland Park

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