Object ParentsNatural resources that “parent” objects:
Iziko Social History Centre, Spin Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 33.9253° S, 18.4215° E
Object OriginA102, The Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915
According to Dyalvane, Views from the Studio (2011) forms part of a larger collection with a similar title where – through his ceramic artworks – Dyalvane creates ‘’both a literal and metaphorical view as he interprets the less popular view of Cape Town’s city skyline. On his website, www.imisoceramics.co.za, Dyalvane asserts that these vessels were fundamentally ‘’inspired by the daily view of the harbour and industrial areas, passing trains and moving cranes and storage containers from his studio. Dyalvane continues to say that through these ceramic artworks he hopes to ‘’provide the world with a detailed account of what his eye is fed as he floats in his creativity zone.’’
The utility of pots is often considered universal: transcending cultural and geographic boundaries. Pottery – considered one of the world’s oldest inventions – dates as far back as the earliest settled communities. However, its contemporaneous continuation tells us a lot about human development. Indeed, it has survived and is flourishing in the present, which speaks to its enduring value, so that today, where we have tended to develop divisions between art and craft (not least in our museums), making pots can be a fine art practice. South African artists like Andile Dyalvane are dominating some of the pioneering contemporary designs of ceramic art coming from Africa – creating a global demand for stoneware from the continent. One can go as far as to say that artists such as Dyalvane use the medium of pottery as literal and figurative vessels for artistically and visually narrating the stories of Africa by Africans, subverting the often anthropological and archaeological reductions of functional objects we have seen in museum collections.
Views from the Studio (2011) bulges with tenacious vibrancy: showing an unusual confidence for a ceramic vessel historically consigned to ‘’ethnographic” or “African’’ collections, simply as artifactual rather than as art. But – that is not the case with Dyalvane’s contemporary vessels – his ceramics are critically-acclaimed, so much so that they earn him international residencies.
In 2017 Dyalvane had his first U.S. solo exhibition at Friedmand Banda in New York, aptly titling it Camagu (an isiXhosa spiritual mantra giving thanks to both the living and the dead) to acknowledge his successful career. This career has seen him mentor up-and-coming artists and ceramic enthusiasts while making considerable profits through his company and studio Imiso Ceramics, co-owned with fellow artist Zizipho Poswa. More so, his gratitude also acknowledges his cultural significance both internationally and locally as a living artist who is well represented in galleries, museums and international art events all over the world.
Just as grandiose as the scale of the vessel is, so is its depiction of both Dyalvane’s success and of the exuberant, albeit hotly contested, industrialised area of Woodstock where the artist has been working for a decade in his studio overlooking Table Bay harbour. Yet as much as Views from the Studio is reflective of the artist’s current environment, Dyalvane juxtaposes his new urban reality with his Xhosa traditional roots through the incorporation of uluqaphula (scarification) by incising the vessel’s surface: a trademark signature for many of his artworks.
The stoneware vessel, like art, reads as a fascinating (un)intentional spatial documentary of the artist’s booming career trajectory: from his humble beginnings in the small village of Ngobozana, Qobo-qobo, Eastern Cape to a well-travelled international artist who can afford the skyrocketing prices of gentrified Woodstock.
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Imiso Ceramics. Available: https://www.imisoceramics.co.za/index.html .
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