Win­ning art­work cre­ated in wake of dev­as­tat­ing fires


THE win­ner of the Cape Town Cre­ative Academy’s na­tional art and de­sign com­pe­ti­tion, Michael Beck­urts, ini­tially took up art as a form of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to im­prove his fine mo­tor skills.

Beck­urts was born with di­as­trophic dys­pla­sia, a con­di­tion af­fect­ing skele­tal and mus­cu­lar de­vel­op­ment, and has un­der­gone sev­eral op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing a neck-fu­sion pro­ce­dure when he was five years old.

He took up art lessons when he was six to re­gain his fine mo­tor skills af­ter surgery.

Beck­urts’s win­ning art­work, called The Af­ter­math, was in­spired by his ex­pe­ri­ences on the Gar­den Route last year fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing fires in the re­gion. Af­ter his win the ma­tric pupil at Bish­ops Dioce­san Col­lege was awarded a R30 000 bur­sary to study at the academy in Wood­stock next year.

“This art­work was done dur­ing the De­cem­ber 2017 school hol­i­days on my grand­par­ent’s small­hold­ing in the Eland­skraal District be­tween Knysna and Sedge­field, six months af­ter the fire that rav­aged the area.

“My grand­par­ents had a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and a nar­row es­cape from the flames that sur­rounded their house. If you were to sit on this empty deck chair (fea­tured in the work) you would see en­cour­ag­ing signs of re­vival in na­ture: patches of green re­growth and the oc­ca­sional wild flower.

“This shows the power of na­ture and the strength of the hu­man spirit, and it brings me hope,” he said.

Se­nior lec­turer at the academy, Gus­tav Ver­meulen, said this year’s com­pe­ti­tion drew more than 280 en­tries from young artists across the coun­try.

“The cri­te­ria for choos­ing a win­ner in­cluded tech­ni­cal skill, ver­sa­til­ity in han­dling the medium and also the artist’s abil­ity to of­fer a con­cep­tual ex­pla­na­tion – to speak in an in­formed way of how they ob­served and in­ter­preted their sub­ject mat­ter. Michael showed ex­cep­tional ob­ser­va­tional skill – there is a level of ma­tu­rity in his work that is highly un­usual for some­one his age,” Ver­meulen said.

Beck­urts’s other projects in­clude de­tailed botan­i­cal art­works, which he sells to a small fan-base.

He also cre­ated a series of land­scape draw­ings dur­ing a 2016 school trip, the Bishop’s Epic, which he turned into cards and sold to raise money for an un­der-re­sourced school.

MICHAEL Beck­urts won the Cape Town Cre­ative Academy’s na­tional art and de­sign com­pe­ti­tion with his work called The Af­ter­math.


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