03 May 2021 | Story Dr Cindé Greyling | Photo Supplied

In April 2021, Prof Hennie van Coller received the Jan H Marais Prize for an outstanding contribution to Afrikaans as scientific language, and Prof Janine Allen-Spies received the Stals Prize for Art Science. Both prizes are awarded by the South African Academy for Science and Arts. The University of the Free State is delighted with the honour bestowed on these two deserving academics. 

Prof Hennie van Coller 

Now retired, Prof Van Coller is a former Distinguished Professor in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French. He shares the Jan H Marais Prize with Prof Ina Wolfwaardt-Gräbe from Pretoria. This annual prize is awarded to recognise outstanding contributions to Afrikaans as scientific language by means of high-quality Afrikaans scientific work or publications. Prof Van Coller boasts a formidable professional publication record as literary scientist, but is also a known poet, translator, and prose author. “I would like to continue writing fiction and non-fiction until I am not able to do it anymore,” he says. 

Prof Van Coller deeply appreciates the prize, which can be regarded as the pinnacle of his academic career and hopes that it will inspire his younger colleagues. “The prize also awards Afrikaans as scientific and academic language,” he concludes.

Prof Janine Allen-Spies 

Associate Professor in the UFS Department of Fine Arts, Prof Allen-Spies, feels honoured to be recognised by her peers and fellow academics. She was awarded the Stals Prize for her valuable role as visual artist, academic, mentor, lecturer, activist, and supporter of art. 

She finds it hard to pick a single career highlight, because she “has equal highlights in various dimensions of my work. I also feel that you never reach those career highlights alone, many colleagues and mentors contribute to your career”. She is, however, grateful for her Unesco-Aschberg residency at Itaparica, Brazil, in 2002, which gave her international experience and motivated her to persevere as an artist. 

Currently, she is working with the public health specialist and activist, Dr Andre Rose, on the Eureka Project, where they are visually exploring the social determinants surrounding artisanal diamond mining (previously called illegal diamond mining) and the relationship with communities as well as the formal diamond mining sector in the Northern Cape. “We have an exhibition at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley in the last semester of 2022.”

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