Artist Astral Msekeli hopes his blind grandmother might won day see something as beautiful as a butterfly again. His entry was the top one from South Africa in the Bic Art Master Africa Competition.
Artist Astral Msekeli hopes his blind grandmother might won day see something as beautiful as a butterfly again. His entry was the top one from South Africa in the Bic Art Master Africa Competition.

Durban security guard wins top SA entry in art competition

By Duncan Guy Time of article published Oct 9, 2021

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A picture, drawn with ballpoint pens, of an elderly lady holding and looking at a butterfly, has won Durban security guard Astral Msekeli a national arts award.

The woman in the drawing is his 91-year-old grandmother, Grace Mthembu, who has been blind for the past couple of years due to glaucoma. The artwork is titled Ubuntu.

“My dream is that one day she can see again, and see a butterfly, which is a beautiful thing in our culture,” the 22-year-old artist, who is also studying geography and history through Unisa, told The Independent on Saturday.

If an art course were available, he would study the subject because that’s what he would really like to teach.

Artist Astral Msekeli hopes his blind grandmother might won day see something as beautiful as a butterfly again. His entry was the top one from South Africa in the Bic Art Master Africa Competition.
Durban security guard Astral Msekeli was the top South African entrant in the Bic Art Master Africa competition.

Msekeli was the top South African entrant in the Bic Art Master Africa competition which required artists to submit work done only using ballpoint pens.

Originally from Highflats in southern KZN where his grandmother still lives, he came to Durban as a teenager and attended school in Umlazi where his art teacher, a Miss Sbeao, inspired him.

He found out about the competition on Facebook.

“It took me a bit of time to think what to draw. I wasn’t sure because I had not drawn for a long time.”

Msekeli’s project kept him busy for a month, with him committing between two and four hours a day to the drawing after hours.

He said he had never done art using a ball point pen before: “it’s harder than pencil, which I am used to, because you cannot erase.

The top three winning entries in this year’s Bic Art Master Africa competition, the first prize winner coming from Uganda (centre), the second from Cameroon (left) and the third from Nigeria (right). They are all done using ballpoint pens. Picture: Supplied.

The annual Bic Art Master competition began in 2017 in South Africa. Thanks to its success, it was expanded to include the Africa region in 2019. This year, the competition expanded even further to include the Middle East.

The overall winner for this year’s event was Gayi Eric, from Uganda, for his artwork Circle of Life, runner-up was a Cameroonian, who goes by the name Kamgaing, for his work In My Room. Third place went to Odaro Franklin Osaivbie, from Nigeria, with his art piece Entranced.

More than 3 700 artists entered 6 350 entries.

The first-placed winner received a cash prize of $2 000 and will have the piece showcased at an online personalised gallery as well as at La Collection Bic – the company’s official contemporary art collection and exhibition, the company said in a statement.

“Second and third place winners have received a cash prize of $1 000 and $500 respectively. Winners from across the region have received cash prizes as well as Bic hampers.”

The Independent on Saturday

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