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Monday, September 14, 2009


(Pic: A superb uphiso by Clive Sithole)

Work of first prize recipient at the Craft Ya Rona 2009 Competition can be seen at African Art Centre.

The work of KZN ceramic artist Clive Sithole can be seen on the exhibition Best Ceramicists in KwaZulu-Natal which honours him and Jabu Nala for receiving first and second prize (respectively) at the "Craft Ya Rona" Competition in 2009 hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture.

Clive Sithole was born in Soweto in Gauteng and currently resides in Durban, working from his studio at the Bat Centre. At a young age, he developed a flamboyance for fashion design which he furthered at the London International School of Design and International School of Fashion Design in Johannesburg. Undoubtedly, his training in fashion design has greatly impacted his ceramic pottery.

Clive began on the road to ceramic pottery-making in 1986 through being inspired by Philemon Lerata’s ceramic works in the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. He embarked on the process of furthering his skill by joining community ceramic projects such as Ababumbi. After meeting acclaimed lecturer Juliet Armstrong, he was invited to attend classes at UKZN and thereafter began practicing as a ceramic potter.

His training at art institutions exposed him to varied approaches to ceramic pot making, enabling him to utilize the well-known Zulu tradition at his disposal. His ceramic pots are finely crafted, meticulously modelled, light in weight and are burnished to the highest achievable shine. His clay pots tend to merge the traditional Zulu ceramic expertise with modern style.

The amasumpa are partial features on his pots often complimented with modern design motifs drawn from fashion design. Dominant in his works are the unique pot shapes appropriated from Zulu traditional clay beer pots. His popular shape of Uphiso is improved upon with an elongated neck and a widened mouth. His ukhamba shape is stylised with a slightly elevated base. His recent prolific pots assume the shape of the elongated Zulu beer pot, tipped with amsumpa designs and toped with a curved lid.

Residing in the urban area enables Clive to utilise the kiln for firing his ceramic pots, but he nonetheless employs the smoke firing process to achieve the blacked quality on his pots.

Sithole is a worldwide renowned ceramic potter, having exhibited locally and internationally with works stocked in major local and international collections.

His first prize victory in the 2009 Craft Ya Rona competition is being celebrated in the Best Ceramicists in KwaZulu-Natal exhibition along with his long journey to ceramic pottery making.

The exhibition will be opened officially on September 16 at 18h00 by Paul Mikula of Phansi Museum. The African Art Centre is in Florida Road, phone 031 312 3804.

(See separate article on Jabu Nala)