From their stu­dio in Wood­stock, Cape Town, three tal­ented ce­ram­i­cists push the bound­aries of cre­ativ­ity to make their mark

Elle Decoration (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - Text Pho­to­graphs SHARON SOROUR-MOR­RIS ADEL FERREIRA

In­side the stu­dio of Siyabonga Ce­ram­ics with ce­ram­i­cists Madoda Fani, Siyabonga Fani and Chuma Maweni

At first glance, Siyabonga Ce­ram­ics stu­dio at the back of The Palms @ Wood­stock life­style cen­tre in Cape Town seems de­serted. In­ter­est­ing items – some shiny, oth­ers matte – in var­i­ous stages of com­ple­tion lit­ter the space, where there’s ev­i­dence of clay, sculpt­ing tools and a kiln, off to one side. Then Madoda Fani and his fel­low ce­ram­i­cists and col­lab­o­ra­tors Chuma Maweni and Siyabonga Fani, Madoda’s younger brother, come into view.

All shin­ing stars on the South African ceramic scene, the tal­ented trio pro­duce their beau­ti­fully wrought pieces here in this shared stu­dio space. Siyabonga Ce­ram­ics – which com­prises a shop in the cen­tre where they show­case their work, and the stu­dio, where the nitty-gritty hap­pens – was started by Siyabonga in 2013, with Madoda join­ing him five years ago and Maweni com­ing on board in 2016. While they work mainly on in­di­vid­ual com­mis­sions, projects and pieces, they con­trib­ute a per­cent­age of their sales to the run­ning of the stu­dio and col­lab­o­rate on what Siyabonga calls ‘bread-and-but­ter’ pieces. ‘When we’re not busy, we do items for the shop: Chuma throws the pots and Madoda and I dec­o­rate them,’ he ex­plains.

They have an im­pres­sive wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them. Siyabonga and Madoda cut their artis­tic teeth at Sivuy­ile Col­lege, now Col­lege of Cape Town Gugulethu Cam­pus, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, then honed their ceramic paint­ing skills at Kalk Bay’s The Pot­ter’s Shop. From there, the world’s proved to be their oys­ter. Maweni started work­ing with clay while in the Transkei as a boy, then stud­ied art and de­sign at the then-Port El­iz­a­beth Tech­nikon. Af­ter that, he spe­cialised in ceramic de­sign be­fore join­ing the Art in the For­est gallery and out­reach cen­tre in Con­stan­tia.

Al­though their African her­itage and cul­tural rit­u­als pro­pel the nar­ra­tive of their in­di­vid­ual work, they sub­scribe to a distinct, con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic and con­tin­u­ally seek in­spi­ra­tion from the world around them. Madoda’s en­tranced by fea­ture films such as the Star Wars fran­chise and Ja­panese movies, from which he gleans de­sign ideas. Siyabonga’s ex­per­i­ment­ing with go­ing back to his roots, but fash­ion, the fe­male form and the flo­ral king­dom re­main in­spir­ing. For Maweni, ar­chi­tec­ture is a sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence, with his favourite build­ing be­ing Dubai’s 75-storey Cayan Tower. They’ve also

been in­di­vid­u­ally in­spired and men­tored by other cre­atives, in­clud­ing South­ern Guild co-founder Ju­lian Mc­Gowan, artist Jan Ver­meiren, ce­ram­i­cist Nic Sithole, pot­ter Chris Sil­ver­stone and gallery-owner Kim Sacks.

The three­some all work with ter­ra­cotta or black clay, and use tra­di­tional tech­niques like coil­ing and pinch­ing, with pieces be­ing bisque- and smoke-fired. Their works are then bur­nished with stones or pol­ished with shoe or floor pol­ish to achieve the dark patina they’ve per­fected.

Evo­lu­tion is key in their process, and they con­tin­u­ally push bound­aries. Maweni still pro­duces his sig­na­ture teardrop pieces, but has branched out to make stools and other func­tional fur­ni­ture. Madoda loves clay and is cre­at­ing a 65cm chair that will soon wing its way to De­sign Mi­ami with South­ern Guild, but he’s also started work­ing in bronze, and one of his first bronze works has been ac­cepted for South­ern Guild’s House of Bronze ex­hi­bi­tion. Siyabonga, who free­lanced for a Ger­man com­pany for nine years and also cre­ated a range for a Cape Town wa­ter­front ho­tel, has moved away from colour­ful cre­ations to large, beau­ti­fully carved ves­sels.

Their ta­lent hasn’t gone un­no­ticed. They’ve trav­elled over­seas, won awards and reg­u­larly have work se­lected for a plethora of ex­hi­bi­tions, in­clud­ing the pres­ti­gious Ce­ram­ics SA re­gional and na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions. This year, Maweni and Madoda also pro­duced new work for South­ern Guild’s Ex­tra Or­di­nary ex­hi­bi­tion, and their work was in­cluded in the Christie’s 2017 Auc­tion.

Their com­mit­ment and hu­mil­ity are im­pres­sive, but it’s their pas­sion that stands out. It’s re­ally quite sim­ple: they love what they do. Siyabonga sums it up: ‘When

I’m mak­ing things, I sim­ply fol­low my hand wher­ever it goes.’ siyabon­gac­e­ram­ @fan­i­madoda


this page (from top) Ce­ram­i­cist Madoda Fani works on one of his hand-coiled ves­sels for which he is best known; clay cre­ations by Siyabonga Fani (left), Chuma Maweni (mid­dle) and Madoda (right) are on dis­play at Siyabonga Ce­ram­ics in Wood­stock. op­po­site Madoda stands in the trio’s shared stu­dio space next to a clay chair that he is work­ing on for De­sign Mi­ami 2018 with South­ern Guild.

this page ‘I don’t think about a de­sign be­fore I start. I let the clay talk to me and to­gether we cre­ate magic,’ says Siyabonga, who’s moved on from his early colour­ful cre­ations and is now mak­ing large, carved ves­sels. op­po­siteAl­though Maweni works with tra­di­tional pro­cesses, he isn’t lim­ited by them and mainly ex­plores con­tem­po­rary forms that re­flect his spirit as an artist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.