Andile Dyalvane is one of South Africa’s foremost ceramic artists. Guided by a deep spiritual connection to his Xhosa ancestors, Dyalvane’s complex, large-scale ceramic artworks are a metaphorical vessel through which he seeks to honour his cultural traditions and share his journey of healing.
Born in 1978 in the small village of Ngobozana, near Qobo-Qobo in the rural Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Dyalvane grew up farming and looking after his father’s cattle herd – sewing a deep connection to the land and his Xhosa culture that resonates powerfully through his work today. His medium of clay or “umhlaba” (mother earth) is, at its most fundamental, a life-affirming connection to the soil. But by providing a medium for storytelling, it is also an essential energetic link to his past, present and future.
Dyalvane completed a National Diploma in Art and Design at Sivuyile Technical College in Gugulethu, Cape Town, followed by a National Diploma in Ceramic Design from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2003. In 2005, he and Zizipho Poswa co-founded Imiso Ceramics, whose handmade tableware and vessels have earned the studio an international following. Through his functional designs for Imiso, he developed a language of incision marks inspired by the ancient African tradition of body scarification that continues to inform his collectible work for Southern Guild today.
Dyalvane’s work for Southern Guild serves as a distinct, but aligned, space from which to explore more complex ideas in greater depth with a focus on sculptural and monumental qualities. A prolific artist, he has produced five major bodies of work over the past five years. He made his international solo debut with a ground-breaking collection of over-scaled ceramic vessels, lighting and furniture at New York gallery Friedman Benda in 2016. Its title, Camagu, is a Xhosa term expressing gratitude, spoken in particular when acknowledging one’s ancestors, and it has become a much-used mantra for the artist.
Camagu was followed by Idladla (Grain Silo) at Southern Guild’s gallery in Cape Town in 2017. The collection pivots around the central role that maize cultivation plays in rural African life: no homestead is considered complete without a structure to store grain. The cyclical, life-sustaining practices of land cultivation are an embodiment of collective effort and restorative spirituality. But Idladla is also part of an ongoing and much broader project for Dyalvane: the preservation of his language, identity, and cultural traditions.
A summer residency at Leach Pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall (UK) – widely considered the birthplace of British studio pottery – yielded an extensive collection of work that radiated a new dynamism. The artist located the origin of this movement in his own energetic shift, as he worked with a greater sense of abandon and receptivity to Leach’s British and Japanese ceramic traditions.
Dyalvane’s most recent solo, iThongo (Ancestral Dreamscape), refers to the medium through which the ancestors’ messages – “imiyalezo” – are transmitted. The collection premiered in Dyalvane’s rural village in the Eastern Cape, and was exhibited at Southern Guild in Cape Town (Dec 2020) and Friedman Benda in New York (May 2021).
Currently, his ongoing iNgqweji (Bird’s Nest) series is inspired by Dyalvane’s fascination with natural forms and close observation of the world around him. While travelling through the plains of the Karoo desert and the Northern Cape of South Africa, he found himself in awe of the creativity and intricate skill of the large communal nests of sociable weaver birds.
Dyalvane’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vitra Design Museum, New Taipei City Yingge Ceramic Museum, Iziko South African National Gallery, NMMU Art Museum in Port Elizabeth, Pérez Museum in Miami, Design Museum Gent, Denver Art Museum and the Corobrik Ceramics Collection. He has exhibited at galleries, fairs and museums all over the world, including the National Art Museum of China, the inaugural Indian Ocean Triennial in Perth, and the Seoul Museum of Craft Art. Southern Guild has shown his work at Design Miami, Design Miami/ Basel, The Salon Art + Design, NY Now, and Design Days Dubai.
A member of the International Academy of Ceramics, Dyalvane has earned residencies around the world and shares his knowledge through master classes and workshops in South Africa and internationally. He is the recipient of the 2015 Design Foundation Icon Award and garnered a Special Mention as a finalist in the 2022 LOEWE Foundation Craft Prize.