Southern Guild returns to Design Miami in December 2021 with Studio Visit, an exhibition of ceramics specifically commissioned for the fair, from four of South Africa’s most accomplished artists working in clay. Encompassing both monumental pieces and smaller studies, the gallery’s presentation will include several new series and individual works by Andile Dyalvane, Chuma Maweni, Madoda Fani and Zizipho Poswa. These artists explore aspects of traditional Xhosa culture and spirituality in their work, while drawing on their personal experiences and deep belief systems. All four are encountering significant global interest with recent acquisitions by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and other important foundations and collectors.
Studio Visit will present a depiction of an artist’s working space focusing entirely on ceramics, a thriving contemporary art form in South Africa and one of the continent’s great indigenous craft practices. Rising interest from museums and the public at large indicates that the world is suddenly appreciating what humans have been making since at least 9400 BC (when the oldest piece of African pottery was found in Mali).
Historically, domestic pottery played utilitarian, social and spiritual roles in San, Xhosa and Zulu culture in particular, defying Western categorisations of “art” as distinct from “design”. The diversity and innovation we are witnessing now in contemporary South African ceramics – from the deeply symbolic sculptures of Andile Dyalvane to the large-scale ceramic furniture of Chuma Maweni – pivots on this tradition, which finds its most well-known form in the beer pot, or ukhamba, a communal drinking vessel passed from person to person at ceremonies and social occasions.
As a medium, clay offers these artists broad scope for creative expression and storytelling. Studio Visit takes us behind the scenes of their practice as they foreground new techniques and achieve some of their most technically ambitious work to date. The booth will recreate a ceramic studio with large atelier windows and the 65 new ceramic works displayed on banding wheels, pedestals and tables, including a large hand-carved timber table by Chuma Maweni with collectible furniture by two of Africa’s most accomplished and recognised designers, Cheick Diallo and Gregor Jenkin, adding to the atmosphere of the studio setting.