Crafting a Collection From Clay
Every two years, Namibian pottery and ceramic artists submit their most treasured pieces for review. A team consisting of local and international expertise, judge the submitted works to select only the best art pieces made from clay. The result is a collection of the best in Namibian pottery and ceramic work, which is on display at the National Art Gallery of Namibia, where until the 25th of August you can take a tour through the various styles and techniques of Namibian potters that make up the 8th National Ceramics Biennale exhibition.
Izaan Pauw, the Executive Chairperson of the Potters Association of Namibia explains that this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Potters Association of Namibia (PAN) and that this particular collection boasts the largest number of entries since the National Ceramics Biennale began. “The first National Ceramics Biennale, we had in 2002. It was created by the Potters Association of Namibia to create a platform for artists, ceramic artists, to develop their skills and build on their art form.” Says Izaan.
Walking through the Main Gallery of the National Art Gallery of Namibia, surrounded by beautiful hand crafted pieces, from the avant-garde to the functional, it’s a mesmerising collection. Izaan explains that this exhibition is made up of amateur potters, full-time producers and even teachers. “We are seeing a lot more young people this year, which is interesting. Especially young professional people who started doing this as a hobby, to relax.”
“Some pieces come from Katima Mulilo, from ladies that live in the Zambezi Region. They source their clay from the earth. They fire it in pit fires. I find that the most interesting because it goes back to the traditional way of making pottery.”
Izaan explains that some pieces celebrate pottery in its traditional sense. “Some pieces come from Katima Mulilo, from ladies that live in the Zambezi Region. They source their clay from the earth. They fire it in pit fires. I find that the most interesting because it goes back to the traditional way of making pottery.” Others, Izaan explains, are pure creative sculpture, such as the pieces of Mitchell Gatsi, who is a student at the Collage of the Arts Ceramics Studio in Windhoek. Mitchells’ pieces won him first and second prizes for sculpture work, for pieces with a strong social message that look at the day to day struggles of single mothers. “There is really a diverse amount on display this year, from traditional pots to Lego pierces.” Notes Izaan.
With the Potters Association of Namibia’s making it their mission to ‘’foster the art and craft of pottery and ceramics in every way’’, this exhibition stands to demonstrate the growth in this art form in Namibia. Even the support for the artists, has grown, explains Izaan who shares the many companies that were willing to sponsor prizes for the artists this year. Including the events main sponsor Bank Windhoek.
“Art is fundamental to humanity and I believe it helps to express our values: it bridges the gap between cultures and brings us together regardless of ethnicity, religion and age.”
The variety on display, the beautiful hand crafted pieces and the love that visibly went into each piece are some of the reasons why you should visit the 8th National Ceramics Biennale exhibition, while still on display. When asked why we should support the arts in Namibia, Izaan notes “Art is fundamental to humanity and I believe it helps to express our values: it bridges the gap between cultures and brings us together regardless of ethnicity, religion and age.”
Get in touch with the Potters Association of Namibia through their website by clicking here
Written by Kirsty Watermeyer