Ceramics with a difference at UKZN

2009-07-21 00:00

CERAMICIST Clive Sithole has looked deep inside himself to produce a series of sculptures for his residency exhibition, which opens at the Jack Heath Gallery at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Ridge Road, today.

“The work is quite personal,” he says — “Normally I address cultural issues like language and identity, but this is more about me.”

The exhibition’s title, Lala Honna, was inspired by a Sotho song and loosely translated the words mean “come and rest on my bosom”. It’s a song of comfort, sung when someone dies or is experiencing great hardship.

Asked to explain the works, Sithole, who is doing a residency at the university’s ceramics department, said they emerged from the challenge he had faced in giving up his role as a full-time ceramicist, for that of a student.

“Studying at my age wasn’t easy. I’ve done the opposite to most people. I should have started with studying and then gone to work, but instead I’ve been working for the past 14 years,” he said. “I came here to acquire knowledge, but it has been hard. And the works reflect that hardship — the fact that I had to stop producing work and study like everyone else.

“Coming here, after being alone in my studio for the past 10 years, also opened up a new world for me. I had to learn about other human beings and have discovered that you have to deal with people, no matter who they are or how they treat you, especially if you want to get somewhere in life.”

All the figures on show are large and seemingly robust, but Sithole is keen to stress that while they might appear strong on the outside, inside the reality is very different. “These pieces show something fragile inside,” he added. “I never thought I would be expressing these things, but I need to make people understand how I feel.”

• Lala Honna can be seen at the Jack Heath Gallery, Centre for Visual Arts, UKZN Pietermaritzburg until Friday.


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