Cape Town talent among awarded artists recognised at Arts and Cultures Gala

Haroon Gunn-Salie

Haroon Gunn-Salie

Published Apr 2, 2024


Cape Town - South Africa’s artists were celebrated on the weekend at the inaugural Cultural and Creative Industry Awards where many unheralded creatives were recognised for their work.

While it might have been hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday, Cape Town also made its presence felt with several wins and nominations.

Bo Kaap won the “Outstanding Cultural Landscape Award” for how the area has preserved its cultural heritage, while Triggerfish Animation won the “Outstanding Animation Award”. Cape Town-based Bulelwa Basse was nominated for the Outstanding Performance Award for Poetry but lost out to Thekiso Maarman.

Cape Town Town artist Haroon Gunn-Salie, 35, won the “Outstanding Visual Artist Award” for his body of work.

Accepting the award, Gunn-Salie dedicated it to the activists who sacrificed their lives for South Africa’s democracy. “I’d like to dedicate this award to the Ashley Kriel Detachment of uMkhonto weSizwe (which I’m from),” he said.

Fresh from her win at the Grammy’s, singer Tyla won the “Best International Act”.

She dedicated her win to South Africans and emphasising the power of staying true to one’s roots.

South African cultural icon, Esther Mahlangu at 88 and still very sprightly, made it to Sandton to receive her “Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Gunn-Salie said afterwards that the award was the culmination of a long road, and the fruits of a project he’d been working on for over 10 years.

He had been working closely with the family of Imam Abdullah Haron on a tribute to the freedom fighter who was murdered by apartheid’s Security Branch.

“The last couple of years, especially since Covid, the creative industries have been especially hard hit.

“There was a long time where there were no museums open, no galleries open, no performance venues possible but slowly there’s been an uptick.

“I think that tonight’s awards, and the ministry really takes seriously the cultural industries…it’s a full circle moment where the work’s being recognised, supported and awarded,” said Gunn-Salie.

Speaking of his own art, he said the Covid shutdowns and its effects, had taught him to diversify.

“I had to diversify the work I do. I had to do more service work, and less, there were no exhibitions. I couldn’t ever rely, until recently, on artworks selling because they physically weren’t on the walls as they were previously. I started working in documentary films, I started doing some virtual reality pieces, expanding my practise to embrace digital transformations,” said Gunn-Salie.

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, said the awards were important because his department recognised excellence in the creative sector.

“It’s all-encompassing, it’s inaugural. We’ve never had awards where we’re all integrated sub-domains of the creatives. We’ve always had sideshows, for the first time we’re recognising them under one roof,” said Kodwa.