Arts & Culture

Contemporary African pottery

Modern African pottery It features an eloquent form and a delicate finish that are not generally expected for practical vessels. This is exactly the point, as few of these pots are used for purposes other than pondering virtues.

But their modernity cannot be separated from the past. Their very existence is based on centuries of production, experimentation, and the continuation of craft sophistication.

Many potters are active, and the following are just a few examples of the breadth and depth of modern potters practicing their crafts on the continent.

Magdalen Odund

DWith its innovative use of one of the oldest materials on the planet, you can only admire the fascinating work of this Kenyan-born ceramic sculptor. Born in Kenya in 1950, she was educated there, educated in India and now lives in the United Kingdom.


Her skill as a ceramist who constantly breaks new ground is not contested.

Her work may resemble a container, but nothing was intended to be used that way. TSeeking their own fluid look, they look slippery and feel their shape is not entirely within Odund’s control.

However, the decoration and technical process is tightly controlled by artists who achieve different effects using traditional coiling techniques and a series of oxidizing and low-oxidizing firing atmospheres.

Her work reflects a unique insight into the cross-cultural role that pots can play and the meaning of both secular and horror that ships can have. In much of Africa, ceramic crafts are associated with female creativity, and the humanoid reference to the female body in her work reflects that ritual.

Although this is clearly recognizable in her work, she has studied many other indigenous pottery techniques in other environments, making her art unique, contemporary and mundane.

Andile Dyalvane

Born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 1978, Majorandir received an honors degree in ceramic design from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2003. He adheres to his roots in using scarification as a technique, as is the cultural practice of the Xhosa people. ukuqatshulwa- Random body.

Bulb potAndile Dyalvane, a coiled vase of stone tools.Scary light bulb shape

His work is elemental, his use of color is often symbolic and reflects his cultural traditions.

The potter hasn’t looked back since then, making waves to Denmark, Taipei, California, France and New York City.Co-founder of Imiso Ceramic In Cape Town, SA, he has recently gained strength with exhibitions in the United Kingdom and the United States and his work collected around the world.

His ship here seems to have a brutal quality reminiscent of Picasso.

Beyond the surface decoration, he captured the master’s 3D form and angular jagged contours in his own oversized sculpture ship.

Dyalvane finished his stay at The Leach Pottery (established in 1920) in St Ives, Cornwall, England in 2019. Here, we used local Cornish clay to create a brutal ship and open plate with a rough surface texture reminiscent of both the washed and the local environment, representing the thick mud of the local river. While searching for the surrounding valleys of his childhood.

He prolificly created experimental works that radiate new dynamism, using new techniques adopted by the host, such as new glazes and rich shades.

Several carefully selected works were exhibited in London, most of which were returned to SA and exhibited in the Southern Guild, Connecticut.


Looking back at his own heritage, Dyalvane created a collection of works named iThongo.. Described by the artist as an ancestral dream landscape, this exhibition of 18 terracotta chairs and stools is first in his hometown of East Cape, then in Cape Town of the South Guild, and more recently in New York. It was exhibited at the Friedman Vendor Gallery in New York. (Spring 2021).

A powerful cultural interpretation, stools and chairs are inspired by both collective and personal memories and African crafts.

They are low and close to the ground .. Worshiped as ancient portals for ancestral communion, they are designed to be placed in a circle around a fire pot and herbal offerings.

Each work created in 2020 is a realization of an imaginary symbol. The symbol began as a drawing and eventually took shape in clay. Symbols or some of them are engraved on the chair itself. Dyalvane created nearly 200 symbols to represent important words in Xhosa life. Igubu (Drum) and Mezilo (Totem animals).

Ian Garrett

Garrett was born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. His work is fascinated by both European and Indian prehistoric ships and the deep cultural heritage of where he was born.

He uses pinch and coil techniques to give his ship a highly polished finish. From time to time, he uses a shell with serrated edges to texture the blood vessels.

His images have botanical or geometric and abstract references, and the ancient terracotta black-burning effect of the Zulu, Sotho, and Venda potters of southern Africa, which Garrett strongly admires. Reflects.

In Cape Town’s Evony Curated series “Polyrythmic Clay,” Garrett looks to African musicology as a source of these ceramic quests, where shapes, patterns and textures are all combined in a fluid and highly delicate way. Turn to.

These intricate works have a unique old worldview, are at the same time modern, and reflect the present … For example, the color palette goes beyond the earth tones of his previous works, Based on natural shades.

Clive Sit Hall

Sit Hall, born 1971 At Studio Potter in South Africa, he explored the Zulu heritage and modernized it by adding features to essentially traditional pots such as animal figures and anthropological emblems on the lid. He studied under Nestanara, an established master potter from a family of potters.

Especially adorable is a reference to his work on the practice of Zulu boys making cow sculptures from river clay.

Clive Sithole, “Uphiso”, 2007, Polished Ceramic

His large bowl, whether round or long-necked pot or open bowl, contains a pure shape that is polished, textured, aesthetically pleasing and makes a highly collectable item. I am.

Nara Family

This unique and talented family includes four generations of female potters elaborately crafted in the Tukera Valley in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


Great-grandmother Ntombi and grandmother Simphiwe passed on their skills to their daughter Nesta, who taught her daughters Jabu, Ntombi, Bongi and Zanele.

Mug Waza Family

Another South African family has four generations, including 18 potters.

The Magwaza

family From the Tugela River region of KwaZulu Natal There is a rich tradition of making Zulu pots and they have perfected the art of design. amasumpa, Small pellets that mark the design of the pot. These small “warts” may be added to the surface or extruded from the inside.

Magwaza PotMagwaza family, pottery pot with “amasum pas”, Tatham Gallery Pmb

The old process of collecting, drying, hardening, finely crushing clay, crushing and sieving before adding water to return it to a smooth, malleable working material is now done by this group of potters. Is also being pursued.

The clay is then stored in a watertight bag and then rolled by hand, polished over direct fire, stoned and polished, or covered with black and brown shoe polish to the original baked clay. Deeper colors are created.

Lanti Bam

Lanti Bam was born in Nigeria in 1982 and moved to London with her parents as a child. This extraordinary potter creates sculptural vessels that push terracotta to the limit.

She pursued the path of art, earning a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree from Surgeon Cass School in London. While she was there, she explored the conceptual idea that humans are inseparable from our environment and used clay to demonstrate this. She finally took a bachelor’s degree in ceramics at London’s famous City Lit.

She finds originality in abstract vessels and builds them by collage slabs to create organic shapes. These are fortified by the considerable use of slips and stains, but remain rustic and unglazed. Fired at extreme temperatures, she embraces this process, pushing the boundaries of this material and experimenting with finished products.

Lanti enjoys traveling and sharing knowledge in interactive sessions. She held workshops in Europe and Africa. Zimbabwe and Kenya benefit from her experience. She has been practicing consistently and devotedly, attending many venues and gaining strong support.

Zizipho Poswa

Born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 1979, this potter is keenly exploring her heritage while pursuing the development of her very contemporary work of art. Her work is inspired by the traditions and everyday rituals of witnessing her growing up in a rural environment.

She is a trained textile designer who studied surface design at the Institute of Technology on the Cape Peninsula, bringing this training to her work with an abundance of colors, textures and shapes, with cultural Xhosa practice. It represents a contrasting modern idea.

Her work is mostly hand-wound, so it can take up to two months to complete one piece.

She not only paints on the light-colored wash to cover the pot, but also on the details to give it an elaborate finish. She not only pinches and finishes with her hands, but also adds studio shavings and jagged protruding foam.

She recently has several thematic collections and has worked closely with the Southern Guild, Connecticut to encourage the transition from small to large sculptures.

“Ukukurura” -A personal story recording her transition from the countryside to the city. These works are just over the height and have been acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“Umswaro” -Represents a woman with heavy trees, parcels and water piled up on her head.

“Magodi” -A Shona language for traditional African hairstyles, this collection celebrates femininity and the strong woman she grew up in, each named after her personal friends and relatives.

“I Lobola” -Take a closer look at her culture and explore the practice of paying Robora as the bride’s price. There are 12 sculptures featuring sensual shapes and various shapes of cow horns made of bronze.

Using cows as her subject, she not only enhances the credibility of the practice, but also helps educate the viewer about traditions.

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