The art of clay

By Drum Digital
08 October 2010

FOR artist Andile Dyalvane, the journey from being a little boy who loved making clay figures to an adult who has exhibited some of his sought-after ceramics alongside esteemed artworks by Picasso has been fascinating and also rewarding.

Andile (32), who lives in Retreat, Cape Town, says being invited to show six of his pieces as part of the 2006 Picasso and Africa exhibition in Cape Town and Joburg was the highlight of his career.

And, like the Spanish artist Picasso – one of the most famous painters and sculptors of the 20th century, whose work was inspired by African masks and artefacts – Andile draws on his roots when he’s designing and creating his beautiful signature ceramics.

But while his artistic pieces reflect his Xhosa heritage, as coowner of Imiso Ceramics in Woodstock he also makes more functional pieces, such as pots and plates, for retail and private clients.

“Clients send through their orders and we use ready-made lumps of clay to shape them into whatever is required. We shape basic pots by hand, and use moulds and a potter’s wheel for more complicated designs,” he explains.

The ceramics are then fired in a kiln (large oven), decorated and glazed. All in all, it usually takes about six weeks to complete an order.

Andile’s own artistic creations can take up to a month to finish, with the help of two assistants.

“To help finance the business – which now also has a branch at the Cape Quarter – I also hold and/or take part in exhibitions to expose my work to the public and make new local and overseas business contacts,” he says.

For Andile, the challenge is to keep producing work of a high standard.

“You’re only as good as your last piece,” he says.

What I wear

Comfortable clothes: a hat to keep my hair out of the way and a mask during the cleaning stages.

Best part of the job?

When a client admires and is moved by my work. And also, adapting my technique to include ceramics on surfaces such as leather and textiles.

My first piece

I made a heavy terracotta pot with big, ugly, yellow flowers while at college. It’s at my brother’s house and reminds me of how far I’ve come.

Irritations

When people don’t appreciate how much time and effort go into creating a piece and they complain about the price.

Read the full article in DRUM of 10 October 2010

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