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Photo Credit: Supplied | On File

Vuyo Mabheka, an alumni of Of Soul and Joy, receives the prestigious Grand Prix Images Vevey Special Jury Prize Award for his photo series ‘Popihuise,’ capturing the essence of his South African township upbringing through collaged still images and childhood nostalgia.


Johannesburg, South Africa (07 June 2023) – Of Soul and Joy, a renowned creative platform in Thokoza, is overjoyed to announce the outstanding achievement of its talented alumni, Vuyo Mabheka. Mabheka has been honoured with the esteemed Grand Prix Images Vevey Special Jury Prize Award for his remarkable photo series, “Popihuise.”

This international photography competition attracted entries from around the globe, with Mabheka’s submission shining brightly among 564 projects from 65 countries.

Born in 1999 in Libode, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Mabheka later relocated to Thokoza, Johannesburg. In 2017, he discovered his passion for photography through the Of Soul and Joy project, and earlier this year, he joined Afronova Gallery as a represented artist. Mabheka has showcased his artistic vision in group exhibitions such as “In Thokoza: Place of Peace” at Stop Sign Gallery (Johannesburg, 2019) and “Inganekwane” at Constitution Hill (Johannesburg, 2021) and NWU Gallery (Potchefstroom, 2022).

Mabheka’s captivating series, “Popihuise,” delves into his personal experiences, juxtaposing childhood memories and the toys that brought him joy with the challenges of his lived reality. Through the medium of collaged still images, Mabheka creates unique artworks and installations inspired by his environment.

Local South African Photographer on the International Stage: Vuyo Mabheka!
Photo Cred: Vuyo Mabheka | Supplied

He skillfully employs cut-out pictures from his childhood, drawings, and photo collage to reference “Umkokotelo,” a term that signifies reinvented structures in Xhosa vernacular.

The Grand Prix Images Vevey jury expressed their admiration for Mabheka’s photography, stating, “Through his photography, Vuyo Mabheka seeks out some kind of expressive truth as a way to restore his memories and to find a way to come to terms with the reality of life in a South African township, for himself and his community.”

Jabulani Dhlamini, project manager of Of Soul and Joy, proudly stated, “Vuyo embodies our mission at Of Soul and Joy, and we couldn’t be prouder of this monumental achievement. His images have the rare ability to accommodate, engage, and challenge audiences’ perspectives, and we anticipate his continued growth as he delves deeper into the world of photography.”

Of Soul and Joy, initiated in the heart of Thokoza, strives to provide the township’s youth with professional skills in photography. For a decade, the organization has served as a creative platform, offering weekly workshops led by renowned photographers, facilitating encounters with art professionals, and organizing art events both in Africa and abroad. Over the years, the program has unveiled young photographers who have successfully pursued their passion, establishing a thriving career on an international scale. Their works have been exhibited in renowned festivals and fairs, earned prestigious prizes, and gained representation by esteemed agencies and galleries, including Magnum Photos and Afronova.

Local South African Photographer on the International Stage: Vuyo Mabheka!
Photo Cred: Vuyo Mabheka | Supplied

The Grand Prix Images Vevey, founded in 1995, is a highly respected international photography competition held biennially. It fosters unique support for contemporary creation, granting participants complete freedom to explore various subjects and genres. The competition’s commitment to promoting artistic expression and encouraging diverse perspectives is widely recognized. The Grand Prix Images Vevey award winner receives a generous CHF 40,000 (~ZAR 874,000) creation-support grant, one of the most substantial awards in European photography. The recipient then develops an original project over a year, which will be showcased at the upcoming Festival Images Vevey in September 2024.

Previous winners of this prestigious award include Sasha Kurmaz from Ukraine, South Africa’s Lebohang Kganye, and Kristine Potter from the United States.

Vuyo Mabheka’s success serves as an inspiration for aspiring photographers and artists worldwide. Through his evocative imagery and exploration of his community’s reality, he has captured the hearts and minds of viewers, transcending borders and cultures. His achievement is a testament to the transformative power of art and the unwavering dedication of organizations like Of Soul and Joy, which empower young talents to break barriers and create meaningful change through their work.

Sources: Grand Prix Images Vevey Special Jury Prize Award
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