Potter’s hands mould beauty

2016-03-10 06:00
 Gugulethu ceramicist Siyabonga Fani wants to change perceptions with his work.

Gugulethu ceramicist Siyabonga Fani wants to change perceptions with his work.

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Siyabonga Fani wants to change the perception among his own folk in the townships that the ceramic industry is only for those who are academically challenged.

Fani,33, from Gugulethu in NY18 is determined in his trade that he runs his own business at the Palms Lifestyle and Decor Centre in Woodstock.

He founded Siyabonga Ceramics in 2013 after working with ceramics as far back as 1996, whilst a student at Sivuyile College now known as the College of Cape Town Gugulethu Campus.

“My dad was a self-taught artist and he used to draw sketches of television characters. Even though he wasn’t a professional artist, he planted the seed and inspired us to fall in love with art.

When I went to study art my older brother, who I work with at my studio, was already working in the ceramics industry,” he said.

Siyabonga has even won a few prestigious awards for sculptures and posters he designed and went on to receive an accolade as the best student in his first year.

He went on to study business management which helped him get freelance work.

He started his own business with the help of his mentors Andrew and Carol Bouwer who continue to support his business.

In 2014, the gifted ceramist travelled to New York in the USA in search of new business opportunities.

In the same year he got an opportunity to design the plaques for Siyabonga Awards, which express the nation’s gratitude to its partners and friends in the US, including expatriates who are part of Brand South Africa’s Global South Africans initiative, for their support in achieving the country’s goals.

Despite his success Fani admitted that it is not easy to make a success in the industry as they are very few opportunities of business ownership.

“Unfortunately to get in or to have decent work you must be working for an established company.

It is extremely difficult for an artist that is coming from the townships.

But it is not impossible as long as artist empower themselves business wise,” he explained.

He said that it is this thinking that has driven him to run his business with a focus on corporate clients and walk ins.

“I want to change the perception in our townships that art is for people that have failed in school by making it a sustainable business that employs many people.

As opposed to people making ceramic works just to sell to tourists but by having corporate clients like hotels who need bowls and other materials,” said Fani.

Siyabonga ceramics currently employs 3 workers and Fani says that he is hoping to grow the business and employ even more.

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