‘Studio Visit’ exhibition spotlights South African ceramists at Design Miami

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Inspired by the life-sustaining daily rituals she witnessed as a young girl growing up in the Eastern Cape, Zizipho Poswa’s large-scale, hand-coiled sculptures are material declarations of womanhood. (Richard Keppel Smith/ Southern Guild)
Inspired by the life-sustaining daily rituals she witnessed as a young girl growing up in the Eastern Cape, Zizipho Poswa’s large-scale, hand-coiled sculptures are material declarations of womanhood. (Richard Keppel Smith/ Southern Guild)
  • In December 2021, the Cape Town-based Southern Guild will return to Design Miami with a new exhibition.
  • Titled Studio Visit, Southern Guild will exhibit ceramics from four South African artists working with clay.
  • As a lead up to the international showcase, Arts24 considers the four artists and their practices. 


Founded in 2008 by Trevyn and Julian McGowan, Southern Guild is a Cape Town-based gallery that commissions, produces, and exhibits contemporary collectible designs. In December 2021, the gallery will return to Design Miami with a new exhibition. Taking place annually, Design Miami is a global fair  that brings together influential collectors, gallerists, designers, and curators. More than a marketplace for design, each show balances exclusive commercial opportunities with progressive cultural programming and engagement. 

Titled Studio Visit, Southern Guild will exhibit ceramics from four South African artists working in the medium of clay, one of the continent's most enduring indigenous art forms. Defying Western categorisations of art as distinct from design, domestic pottery has always played utilitarian, social, and spiritual roles in South Africa. As a medium in contemporary South Africa, clay offers these artists broad scope for creative expression and storytelling.

Encompassing both large scale sculptures and smaller studies, the gallery's presentation will include works by Andile Dyalvane, Zizipho Poswa, Madoda Fani, and Chuma Maweni. All four artists are currently garnering global interest with art strongholds like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art having recently acquired their work. 

Unlike the conventional booth, Studio Visit will bring viewers into the artists' practices by presenting a depiction of the artists' working spaces. With large atelier windows and 65 ceramic works displayed on banding wheels, pedestals, and tables, Studio Visit takes us behind the scenes of their practice as they foreground new techniques and achieve some of their most technically ambitious work to date. As a lead up to the international showcase, Arts24 considers the four artists and their practices. 

Andile Dyalvane 

Guided by a deep spiritual connection to his Xhosa ancestors, Dyalvane's complex, large-scale ceramic artworks are a vessel through which he seeks to honour his traditions and share his journey of healing. 

His most recent solo, iThongo (Ancestral Dreamscape), premiered in his rural village in the Eastern Cape, and was exhibited at Southern Guild in Cape Town (December 2020) before heading to Friedman Benda in New York (May 2021). More recently, his work was included in the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial in Perth, Australia (September 2021), and the Jinju Traditional Crafts Biennale. On 5 November, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will debut some of his work as a part of the show, Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, opening 5 November. 

At Design Miami, Dyalvane will exhibit 11 pieces, all of which highlight the artist's interrogation of the land's geographical features, its cultivation and life-sustaining cycles. The 11 pieces come from three series namely iHlati, Idladla, and iNgqweji

Zizipho Poswa

Inspired by the life-sustaining daily rituals she witnessed as a young girl growing up in the Eastern Cape, Poswa's large-scale, hand-coiled sculptures are material declarations of womanhood. 

Recently, Poswa's work has been acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Metropolitan Museum in New York. 

Poswa's work has been included in the Ceramics Now exhibition in Paris; the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial in Perth, Australia (September 2021), and Self-Addressed at Jeffrey Deitch in Los Angeles. On 5 November, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will also debut some of her work as a part of the show, Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, opening 5 November. 

At Design Miami, Poswa will show a total of six new large-scale works and 27 maquettes. These include two monumental ceramic sculptures standing at over two metres high, in addition to four new works in the Umthwalo series that are an ode to the resilience of Xhosa women.

Madoda Fani

The artist's hand-coiled, burnished and smoke-fired pieces are a contemporary take on traditional Nguni ceramics. 

Earlier this year, his work with Southern Guild saw him branch out into bronze sculpture and clay furniture that was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

With intricate, carved patterns on the smooth, polished surfaces of his vessels, his work has a scaled, insect-like appearance that appears both ancient and futuristic. These patterned incisions that are Fani's trademark become an all-encompassing 'skin' in all five of his works at Design Miami. They include two vessels from his recent collection, iQweqwe, which studies insect exoskeletons. 

Chuma Maweni 

Through a wheel-thrown practice, Maweni's ceramics are distinguished by their silhouettes, their ridged finish and his use of black clay. Progressing from vessels to ceramic plinths, stools and tables, Maweni's most ambitious form to date is his Imbizo collection of clay furniture. As a part of the Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room exhibition, his Imbizo installation is also making its way to the Met.

For his Design Miami showcase, Maweni will show six stools, a table with hand-carved timber top, as well as a series of tall, tapered vessels whose smooth surfaces have been burnished with a stone. 

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