Dineke van der Walt is the 2018 Fulcrum Suzanne Shaw Creative Award winner

Art is a lifelong compulsion for the 2018 winner of the Fulcrum Suzanne Shaw Creative Award, Dineke van der Walt.

“I always knew I had to work within the art sector, and have been intrigued by art and artists since my childhood,” says Van der Walt, the gallery manager at Lizamore & Associates in Johannesburg.

Dineke van der Walt.
(Photo by Dineke van der Walt)
Dineke van der Walt.

The Fulcrum Suzanne Shaw Creative Award, named in honour of the late Fulcrum employee Suzanne Shaw, is a collaboration between Fulcrum, the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and Kalashnikovv Gallery

It is given annually to a deserving young art curator, who – as the winner of the inaugural award in 2017, Layla Leiman, put it – has a rare “blank canvas” to put together an exhibition.

“We’re very excited to announce that Dineke van der Walt is the winner of the 2018 Fulcrum Suzanne Shaw Creative Award, and we very much look forward to seeing how she makes the most of this opportunity, both for herself and the artists she will showcase,” says Fulcrum’s head of Brand, Clodagh da Paixao.

“Curating art is a collaborative process, producing varied outcomes – and this is mirrored in the award itself. It reflects both BASA’s goal of growing corporate support for the arts and the Bag Factory’s of nurturing artistic talent, and it is a way for us at Fulcrum to remember our colleague Su Shaw, who had been an up-and-coming curator herself.”

Collaboration is central to Van der Walt’s engagement with the world of art. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to work within art teams over the past 10 years, starting out as a gallery assistant for the North West University gallery while I was studying History of Art. During this time, I was introduced to contemporary art and had the opportunity to work with some of South Africa’s leading artists at art festivals like Aardklop.

“I’ve been the gallery manager at Lizamore & Associates since 2013, working on exhibitions in the space, travelling exhibitions, art fairs and other art projects. Working in a team has always been an essential part in bringing about successful exhibitions during my young career,” says Van der Walt, who also completed her MA Art History in 2014.

“My personal curatorial voice is rooted in diversity in art. I enjoy various mediums and creative forms, and combining them within an exhibition. I also love travelling, and being introduced to different cultures and their unique forms of art.

“My passion, however, lies with contemporary South African art. We have many talented artists in this country, and it is a very exciting time to be a young curator and being able to work with so many unique voices.”

Van der Walt already has a strong sense of what she wants to do with the award, but is understandably a little coy at this stage: “So far I plan to work with both contemporary artists and people within different creative fields to bring about inter-disciplinary collaborations, with the hope that this could be beneficial to everyone involved. I don’t want to give too much away, but if everything works out, the opening night will prove to be more of an experience than a viewing.”

But she appreciates the critical part that she will play in making her vision a reality. She says, “The curator plays a vital role in understanding the artists’ intentions and work, assembling it and making sure it’s portrayed faithfully to viewers. In essence I see the curator as a creative mediator, creating an experience.”

Van der Walt’s entry for the award had dovetailed with Fulcrum’s brand promise of “We see it differently”, says Aysha Waja, curator at the Bag Factory, and made her stand out as a candidate.

“I’m super-excited to have Dineke receive the 2018 award. Her proposal is fresh and edgy, and is as dynamic and vibrant as herself, which makes her a great candidate for this programme,” says Waja.

“We were intrigued by her vision and passion for art, and creating new experiences through art. She really took on the idea of ‘seeing things differently’, and put forward a new visual and sensory exhibition that can really only be experienced. We can’t wait to start this journey with her.”