Bronwyn Katz, Sculpting Stories.

by | Feb 13, 2023 | African Heritage, Art, Creatives On The Rise, CSA Celebrates, Culture, Talent, The Wire, Trends

  • Origins.
  • Artistry.
  • Symbolism.
  • Accolades, Exhibitions and awards
  • Her very important future

Bronwyn Katz is a South African sculptor and, being an artist from this country imbues one with a very loaded perspective. Our history, heritage and psyche surround us at all times. We live through the consequence of history in a very saturated way. To survive from day to day, much of the conversation is muted. We pick our battles as we battle to keep the lights on, stay employed and feed our children. So, when it comes to the very real, emotional issue of land and all its twists and turns, Bronwyn Katz has become a very important voice. Her art engages/interrogates the concept of land as a repository of memory, reflecting on the notion of place or space as a lived experience, and the ability of the land to remember and communicate the memory of its occupation. Katz’s sculpture is quite distinctive to the South African art landscape – abstract and poetic on the one hand, deeply symbolic on the other. It is fitting then that Bronwyn has been chosen as one of the participants in the 2023 – 2024 cycle of the globally-important Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.


Born in 1993, in Kimberley, South Africa, Bronwyn Katz lives and works in Johannesburg. It would appear the concept of land and excavation loomed large in Bronwyn’s formative years. Living close to the “Great Hole”, its impact on the land through excavation in both spiritual and intellectual meaning must have seeped into her consciousness, let alone that the passage of wealth never entering the hands of people of colour who lived there, is incredible to unpack.


“My dad has a keen passion for metal; he worked for a company that made metal gates and I have always had a relationship with the material because of him.”

Bronwyn is best known for her piece composed of a worn mattress, It is a central figure of her work, alluding to forced movements and the current economic difficulties of a large part of the black population of South Africa. Given that the economy of South Africa is built on the backs of migrant labourer, the poignancy of the piece is deep. She says: “Without delving too much into the discriminatory land legislations of the past, it is not uncommon today to see the hangover effects of this when mattresses lie in the streets of downtown Johannesburg and the city’s suburbs of Hillbrow and Yeoville at the end of every month.”

Bronwyn explains: “Most of the artworks are created from salvaged beds. There are parts of the bed that no one sees or recognises. Some artworks are in different stages of deconstructed beds. Some are more worn in. I take my cues from the materials and push it further, accentuating the residue. For example, where there is a bend, I exaggerate this. Once the material is deconstructed, I try and bring back the human connection with the material.”


The artist explains: “I was living in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. A lot of my neighbours were not able to afford the slightest increase in rent. The beds were burnt because it’s too big to carry to the next space. Some people were not from Johannesburg. I knew a woman who had to go back to KwaZulu-Natal because she could not take her bed with her. We can talk about the life of a mattress — a trace and a map of whom it had belonged to before — in a very abstract way. In some ways the mattresses look like maps of a place or a landscape, a topographical view of an area. I named these artworks after places, some imaginary, some real … mostly fictional but typical-sounding South African place names”.

Accolades, Exhibitions, and awards.

Katz has held five solo exhibitions to date, most recently at blank projects in Cape Town (2019) and ‘A Silent Line, Lives Here’ at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2018). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including The Empathy Lab (Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, 2019); Material Insanity (Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech, 2019); Road to the Unconscious (Peres Projects, Berlin, 2019) and many more.  Katz is also a founding member of iQhiya, an 11-women artist collective which has performed across various spaces, including Documenta (in Kassel and Athens), Greatmore Studios, and Iziko South African National Gallery. She won the FNB Art Prize for 2019 and has been selected as an outstanding emerging artist as participants in the 2023 – 2024 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. The Rolex mentoring programme was established in 2002 to aid in the transmission of artistic knowledge and craft from one generation to the next. Since its establishment, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has paired 63 of the world’s greatest artists with 63 highly talented younger professionals from around the globe. Renowned Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui chose Bronwyn Katz as his protégée.

Her very important future.

As Bronwyn matures into a leading voice of South African Art, we have to take stock of the viability of Artists to be able to practice, work and produce. In a fractured education system that doesn’t allow for creativity to blossom and be supported (including financially), we all should ensure that our Artists are not collectively exported to the rest of the world because we can’t afford to pay them.

Their voices now are more important than ever. They not only steer culture but create it too. It is only through the conversations they provoke and narrate that we as a nation can reflect an awareness of self.

C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.

Follow us

Latest News




Cape Town

Los Angeles





Copyright © 2023 Celebrity Services Africa Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions

CSA Global is compliant with the provisions of the Protection of Information Act 4 of 2013. For a copy of the Company’s data protection policy, please click here.

Share This