Left: Prof Wannie Carstens (chairman of the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns) presents the award to Norman Catherine.
Norman Catherine, a world renowned artist and Hartbeespoort resident for the last 40 years, recently received the prestigious award “Medal of honour for visual arts” from the Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns for his unique and sometimes humurous (and occasionally dark) contibution to art in South Africa.
At this occasion Prof Duffy paid tribute to Norman Cartherine’s lifelong contribution to art. The Academy’s Medal of Honour for Visual Arts is intended to recognise exceptional achievement in this field.
Previous recipients include his mentors, Walter Battiss and Cecil Skotnes. Other recipients include the likes of Pierneef, Gregoire Boonzaaier, Alexis Preller, Irma Stern, Maud Sumner and William Kentridge, to name but a few.
The Academy is a multidisciplinary organization promoting science, technology, the arts and inter alia the use and quality of the Afrikaans language.
The Academy has over the years become known for the frequent award of literary prizes including the Hertzog Price for literature.
Norman is known for the diversity of mediums that he uses and in the process, created art that is unmistakably “Norman Catherine”. There is not the slightest chance that it can be confused with another artist.
His first solo exhibition was at the age of 20. Soon afterwards his paths crossed with Walter Battiss and a indescribable synergy developed around the concept of “Fook Island”. Walter has been the inventor of Fook Island, but Norman gave it wings – including currency! During this time he started building “Fook Manor” in Schoemansville where he and his wife Janet have resided for the past 40 years. A dream world and a great inspiration.
Norman has exhibited in all the major centres around the world, including New York, Amsterdam and Paris.
Deepend Films, a film company based in Johannesburg, decided to develop a DVD documentary based on Norman’s life and art. It was an ambitious project that led them to many parts of the world where they interviewed old colleagues and friends. It included a visit to Jody Scheckter who now farms in the UK, an old schoolmate and lifelong friend that admits that he is not very fond of Norman’s work, but they are still good friends. The DVD is due for completion in the next few months.
During the course of his development as an artist, Norman created a watercolour that he called his CV. It is not a CV in the sense that you normally expect from such an abbreviation, but a record of unusual incidences in his early life. Deepend Films decided to create a short film of this.
The short film has now also been accepted into the Montreal World Film Festival in Canada due to be held shortly.
Dr Johan Wentzel, well known local horticulturist and scientist wrote the text for this ten minute introductory DVD to the full story. Norman’s graphics were given life by the technocrats of the industry. On the right is an example of his art as well as part of the text that accompanied each episode in Norman’s life that made it into his CV.
A really surrealistic experience.