South African pottery to star in sale

Examples of South African pottery will go under the hammer at Gloucestershire auction house, Kinghams on July 28 in their Fine Art sale.

The history of ceramics in the Kwa Zulu province of South Africa originates with the Zulu tribal practice of making ceramics for food storage. For over 1,000 years, the Zulu people have been making pottery. Ceramic vessels for beer storage are an integral part of Zulu culture since ritual beer drinking takes place in every aspect of the customary Zulu life. Beer is used to introduce a new child to the family’s ancestors, at all marriage ceremonies as well as burial ceremonies. The beer is also used as a medium to evoke the ancestors – it is served in a pot and left overnight in the back of the hut for the ancestor.

From this tradition of pot making, the skill of ceramic production was passed down from one generation to the next. In the last quarter of the 20th century, a cottage ceramic industry emerges in Kwa Zulu Natal. The artworks contained in this sale represent a fine cross-section of styles of the artists in this region.

Beer was even used as a form of economic exchange. It is the essence of hospitality and commonality.

Furthermore, many of the current potters who continue to utilize these traditional techniques have become the backbone of their communities, supporting and improving basic necessities and lifestyles. These skilled artisans often face challenging conditions, such as having to walk long distances of over 500 meters to fetch water for their families and for use in their pottery production.

Despite these hardships, they persevere and contribute significantly to their communities by preserving their cultural heritage and creating beautiful ceramics that not only serve practical purposes but also showcase their artistic talents. These potters play a vital role in sustaining the cultural and economic fabric of the Kwa Zulu province in South Africa.

Some of the main studios that have emerged from this region include Ardmore Ceramics, LoveArt Ceramics, Senzo Duma, and Wiseman, among others. These studios have gained recognition for their exceptional craftsmanship and unique artistic styles. Their works often showcase a fusion of African nature themes, whimsical elements, and traditional textures.

There are about forty lots of South African pottery in the upcoming sale, with estimates ranging from £100-4,000.