Nelson Mandela University: Visual Arts honours student Luke Rudman wins Mandela Uni’s Abe Bailey travel bursary

National performance and multimedia artist and Visual Arts honours student Luke Rudman is Nelson Mandela University’s Abe Bailey travel bursary winner and representative for 2022.

The annual Abe Bailey Travel Bursary runs for three weeks, starting in England and ending in Scotland. The bursary is awarded to selected South African university students to enhance understanding of different viewpoints, languages and cultures – to encourage leadership and open debate, to experience British Culture and promote South African unity.

Luke uses performance art, photography, installation and painting to explore queerness. He does so specifically within the context of environmentalism, from which queer perspectives have traditionally been absent.

Luke has also recently been informed that his artworks have been selected as finalists in both Sasol New Signatures and Vukela, two national art competitions that he “has admired from the ‘sidelines’ for years”. He also attended and presented at the 17th Arts in Society conference in Zaragoza, Spain, just a few weeks ago, his first in-person engagement with an international conference.

At the beginning of the year Luke was selected as part of Design Indaba Emerging Creatives class of 2022. He has also been able to continue his 3+ year working relationship with Greenpeace Africa and has been appointed as part of a global board contributors to an exciting intersectional, international Greenpeace project called ‘Alternative Futures’.

“This is a newly founded initiative by Greenpeace International and I look forward to seeing its impact as it develops over the coming months,” he says.

Luke believes that the selection panel for the bursary saw that he is committed to his practice, as well as to the ways in which it has the potential to affect positive change. For the past few years, he has been working with organisations such as Greenpeace, The Sustainable Seas Trust and United Nations in creating artwork addressing the climate crisis and various intersecting issues.

“I have tried not to separate my passion from my practice in the studio – but rather use it as a guide”, he says.

Luke hopes to get to know the other 17 individuals from different places within Southern Africa, to have conversations about their individual contexts as well as about the new experiences they will share on tour.

“I think that all of us taking on this tour together will allow us to develop an understanding of a context completely different to our own. I’m excited about spending a month engaging with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about a diverse range of academic fields. I think the tour will be challenging in many positive ways”, Luke says.

Luke, 22, specialises in fine arts and painting and is currently focusing on his dissertation and studio work on North campus – preparing his contribution to the graduate exhibition at the end of the year.

“I am so honoured to be selected as this year’s Abe Bailey bursary recipient. This opportunity may allow me to initiate conversations about the climate crisis and queer identity in spaces where they are currently missing. I intend to use this opportunity to foster interdisciplinary networking and collaboration with the 17 other recipients I will be traveling with. I am grateful to my department for assisting me throughout this journey,” says Luke.

And the future? Luke would love to continue working as an artist and to develop his skills as a researcher.

“I love creating multimodal art – artworks that resist the urge to be categorized into particular mediums or genres. My approach to artmaking ranges from performance-based to two-dimensional to installation and three-dimensional. This fluidity has allowed me to bring my artistic vision into a plethora of spaces which would otherwise be unavailable to me. I just want to keep creating.”

“My dream job would probably be to continue doing what I am doing now – to create art and to work with organizations and individuals who inspire me every day… Maybe at a larger scale. A big portion of my creative practice exists in the form of performances – in galleries and public spaces alike. I would love to expand this format into fully immersive installation-meets-performance-art exhibitions.”



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