Monday, June 16, 2014

Ceramics SA regional exhibition 2014

Dale Lambert's vessel; Glazecor Award.

Every year Ceramics SA organises and facilitates regional ceramics awards exhibitions across the country. Showcasing the work of clay products in a variety of design styles, representing the creative output of its members and including the work of Ceramic Fellows – those individuals that made a valuable contribution to the world of clay in a South African context. Often guests, clay specialists, are invited to add creative flair to ceramic proceedings. 
Ndebele Premier Award winner's ceramics by Eunice Botes.
The majority of work on display is of a traditional nature, inspiration drawn from age-old craft practices – skills transferred through a number of informal training programs spread across the region. Then there are a number of entries created and developed at advanced mentorship programs on offer in the Gauteng region. 
Vase Eunice Botes; Premier Award winner.
Shirley's Bone China vessels -
soluble salts decoration.
A number of Ceramics SA’s members have taken their creative talents seriously and embarked on ceramic training at a number of technikons that offered fulltime ceramic diploma programs or art and craft training programs on offer at one or two universities. Most of these programs are now closed down for various reasons – a global trend we will not try to explain here.  
Sandy Godwin's vessel.
It is therefore very necessary to mention the important role of these studios. They provide on-going ceramic training support - guidance is provided by ceramic tutors passionate about their craft and in a number of cases very knowledgeable about the broad field of ceramics. In countries like South Africa these training providers are in many ways the last creative outposts in our fight against the extinction of informal craft skills transfer.

Nkhensani Nkozi
bowl and vase
If the prizes are anything to go by, it is clear that a number of these studios operate like small focussed ceramic incubators – one or two setting high standards, egging on their pupils to produce cutting edge ceramic statements. Training is provided by skilled craftspeople with the qualifications and experience within a stimulating creative environment – experienced ceramists work side by side, sharing knowledge in a studio where critique and support encourages mature and aspiring ceramists to grow in leaps and bounds on many levels. This is a very encouraging development in a country where ceramics is not prioritised as an economic developing sector.

Nici Brockwell illustrated bowl.
The regional exhibition is therefore a wonderful opportunity for viewers interested in seeing a wide spectrum of ceramic statements across the broad field of creativity within the medium in clay. Hand built, thrown, slip cast, in porcelain and and, and the list goes on, and on, for as long as man and woman has inhabited the earth. This craft forms has been shaped from the east to the west, north to the south and it continues to grow and shift in terms of creative possibilities on numerous levels across disciplines and media, across the globe.
Nici Brockwell's award winning bowls - Melanie Robinson Award
Christine Williams.
As mentioned before, it is the duty of each member to make a contribution to Ceramics SA, if they wish to see ceramics grow and develop well into the future. I have committed myself to provide on-going support, especially for this event for a number of years now. Photographing the work for CD catalogue (images posted here), setting up the exhibition and when called upon I act as a reviewer for the local media or Ceramics SA News letter. 
Digby Hoets' very large thrown pots.
This year I was also asked to be a selector and award judge.  A smaller exhibition than the past two years (number of works entered and selected) – the display is divided into two sections, a dry wall splitting the venue in half. The first half of the display consists of the work by invited guest artists and the work of the ceramic fellows (image on the left). 
The main display on the right hand side of the dry wall consists of all the winners and Gauteng ceramists – a display truly representative of this ancient craft, ensuring visiting guests who make their way to Museum Africa can experience each and every work exhibited in this truly vibrant ceramic exhibition (image on the left).

The opening was well attended and opened by Nkhensani Nkosi founder of fashion label Stoned Cherrie (image on the left). She gave a well-received and eloquent address, sharing her creative insight into working with clay. She recently joined one of the ceramic ‘incubators’ and produced two works for the exhibition – incised decoration on platter and vase. Worth mentioning, working in a similar technique, although fired to stoneware temperature, is the vases of guest artist Sarah Walters (images below).

The work of Christina Bryer always attracts attention, masterfully visualised and crafted to perfection, it adds a dimension of class to this regional exhibition. Conceived with great insight and creative experience, the artist as always delivers a dazzling end result.

The winners
Mathiba Molefe-Simelane.
The winning pieces reflect quality and creativity in a diverse range of ceramic styles, techniques and ceramic traditions. The overall winner’s work consisted of a vase and installation of cylinders with incised and painted decoration.  Meticulously crafted and decorated, Eunice Botes is a worthy winner (work seen above).

Dale Lambert’s stoneware thrown bowls with intense blue, an electrifying blue under glaze colour – to be precise, produced striking end results (above). This is particularly evident in one of the bowls no 141 (centre) – the form, shape and intense colour compliments each other to produce a desirable and very collectable ceramic vessel.  
The beautifully and effortlessly illustrated ceramic bowls and cylindrical vessel of Nici Brockwell made her a worthy prizewinner (image on the left). The bowls were constructed of slabs reminiscent of a patched quilt and skilfully illustrated in a range of bright colours to produce a well crafted range of narrative based vessels. 

Sandy Godwin in her award winning ceramics made use of a range of tonal values to produce a dynamic optical end result on the surfaces of her monochromatically decorated vessels (image on the left). 

Madoda Fani’s was rewarded for his masterly crafted hand-built, carved and burnished vessels. On another day with different selectors and judges he could have been a worthy winner (work above). 

The work of Mathiba Molefe-Simelane is honoured for her delicately crafted and incised ceramic surfaces on ceramic bowls fired to stoneware (image above). 
Other worthy winners include, Beulah Vermaak, Hansraj Mitha, Jean Beckley, Monica vd Berg  and Colleen Lehmkuhl (Image below).
Large vessels and teapot by award winner Colleen Lehmkhul.
Ceramic head by award winner Monica vd Berg.

Dale Lambert, Eunice Botes, Jerice Doeg and Nkhensani Nkosi

Nkhensani and Simon 


Unknown said...

Excellent post on this wonderful show. Great images too! Congratulations all round to you and everyone involved.

Unknown said...

Great review Eugene. Thanks again so much for setting up this exhibition, you have once again done a fantastic job and each and every piece on the show is shown off to maximize viewing pleasure. We couldn't do this without you. xx