Zizipho Poswa is a Cape Town-based ceramicist whose large-scale, collectible work takes inspiration from her own narrative as a Xhosa woman and artist living in contemporary South Africa. Alongside lauded South African ceramicist Andile Dyalvane, she co-founded Imiso Ceramics, whose handmade tableware has earned the studio an international following.
Zizipho grew up in the town of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, a stronghold of Xhosa culture. She was raised by her mother, a teacher, who recognised her creativity from a young age and did everything within her means to support it. She studied surface design, majoring in textiles, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and draws on this textile knowledge to amalgamate the visual stimuli she encounters in her daily life into a simplified pattern language.
Zizipho’s abstract yet tactile hand-pinched bowls, vessels and vases celebrate her love of colour and pattern. Her work for Southern Guild explores her personal experience and heritage in monumental sculptural pieces. Her totemic Umthwalo series is an ode to the load carried by African women and the traditional tasks of gathering wood, collecting water and taking bucket loads of clothing to wash in the river. For the artist, who witnessed these daily rituals as a young girl, this balancing act is analogous to the multiple life-sustaining roles that African women play as they bridge traditional and modern worlds.
The stacked, totemic forms of Umthwalo give way to a monolithic verticality in Ukukhula I and II. This pair of sculptures convey the sense of a growth spurt and plays with the duality of masculine and feminine, aggression and protection. They are indicative of an artist who has come into her own.
Zizipho received the prestigious Fellow Award from Ceramic South Africa and in 2017 she was awarded an Mbokodo Award in the Traditional and Indigenous Art category. She has exhibited her work at Design Miami and The Salon Art + Design in New York.