‘My work honours the strength of African women’ – Zizipho Poswa

My work is inspired by African women because I was raised by a strong woman, in a community full of women.

In this video, Zizipho Poswa introduces the latest, large-scale works in her Magodi series of ceramic sculptures. Magodi (a Shona term for traditional African hairstyles) celebrates the majesty and heritage of African women, in particular the female role models in the artist’s life. Magodi – Noxolo (named after her aunt), Magodi – Nozibhedlele (named after her mother) and Magodi – Amanda (after a close cousin) are all hand-coiled and glazed or painted in vivid hues.

“My work is inspired by African women because I was raised by a strong woman, in a community full of women,” says the Cape Town artist.

A colourist who came to ceramics via textile design, Zizipho is inspired by the daily Xhosa rituals she witnessed as a young girl growing up in the Eastern Cape and the life-sustaining roles that Xhosa women play in traditional and contemporary life. Her first major series for Southern Guild paid tribute to the practice of umthwalo (load), in which rural women carry heavy bundles of wood, buckets of water or parcels on their heads, often walking long distances on foot.

Her more recent Magodi series looks to the sculptural forms of traditional African hairstyles, such as the Bantu knot and dreadlock, and the central role that hair salons play as a meeting place for women. Each work is named after a family member or close friend, giving vivid, physical form to her own support network of sisterhood.

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