Last week’s nomination of South African artist and ceramicist Andile Dyalvane for the Loewe Craft Prize — one of the world’s most celebrated and lucrative award for crafters — cements his status as one of the foremost ceramic artists in the world. Guided by a profound spiritual connection to his Xhosa ancestors, his complex works are metaphorical vessels of knowledge, history, his spiritual journeys and the process of healing. Last year saw his work being exhibited in Design Miami, Friedman Benda in New York, the Indian Ocean Triennial in Perth, the Jinju Traditional Crafts Biennial and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Dyalvane is one of 30 finalists for the fifth edition of the prize, chosen from a pool of 3,100 submissions from 116 countries. The finalists represent 15 countries and their work is in the mediums of ceramic, jewellery and lacquer. The €50,000 prize was conceived by Loewe’s creative director Jonathan W Anderson in 2015 and aims to recognise the role of craft in modern culture. The artists shortlisted for the prize have created pieces that contribute to the field of contemporary craft, international and indigenous skills and overall innovation. Anderson, said in the statement at the inception of the awards that, “craft is the essence of Loewe. As a house, we are about craft in the purest sense of the word. That is where our modernity lies, and it will always be relevant.” Loewe was founded in 1846 as a craft workshop in Madrid and this award reflects its origins.
The winner of the prize will be announced on June 30 and will be followed by an exhibition of the shortlisted works at the Seoul Museum of Craft Art. The prize is significant, not only due to its monetary value but due to the Loewe Foundation highlighting the contribution of craft to culture. Dyalvane’s reinterpretations and reflections on existing knowledge, coupled with his innovative skill, are recognised and given an acclaimed and international platform to promote his and his country’s ideals.
In 2005, Dyalvane and Zizipho Poswa cofounded the acclaimed Cape Town-based Imiso Ceramics. Dyalvane is already an internationally recognised artist and has received residencies in France, Denmark, UK , the US and Taiwan. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Design Foundation Icon Award. His medium of clay or umhlaba (mother earth) showcases his life-affirming connection to the soil and serves as a medium of storytelling, linking past, present and future. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, Vitra Design Museum, New Taipei City Yingge Ceramic Museum, Iziko SANG, NMMU Art Museum in Port Elizabeth, and the Corobrik Ceramics Collection.
What does this nomination mean to you?
It’s such an amazing recognition to have received. I’m saying this, not because I am looking for validation or anything, but because it’s beautiful to receive an amazing accolade and to be recognised by the industry. It means a lot, and not only for me, which is key about this, it’s about the medium itself, the country, the continent and about the representation of clay. The medium of clay is classic and hasn’t dissipated, it keeps getting stronger, getting more attention and having platforms like this allow us to communicate who we are, what we do and authentically tell our story.
Describe your practice
I was gifted this path towards clay, which is now my medium of choice. I use this medium to express myself, tell my stories and the stories of our people. I use clay to influence and change my environment, to preserve my culture and heritage but also to instil a sense of beauty. I make beautiful objects that tell stories of who we are and express the spiritual connection, spiritual disconnect or the political influences on our communities. It is a tool of connection; promoting a sense of healing, which I feel is very strong within my work.
What is Imiso Ceramics?
Imiso Ceramics is a company cofounded by me and Zizipho (Poswa) about 17 years ago. When we started, it wasn’t just the two of us, we were in a group of passionate young individuals from the Eastern Cape, doing different disciplines but wanting change. SA was a new democracy and new opportunities — and the world — was suddenly opened to us. We had this energy to be that change. We had the vision that we would be working together, today, for tomorrow — Imiso is derived from the Xhosa word meaning ‘tomorrow.’ For us, it is important to leave a legacy for the next generation to come and the idea was to have this design house which house cross-discipline creatives — fashion, ceramics and fine art. It has evolved to mostly ceramics as a core element but with of course, other influences. Starting with using ceramics as a medium of education and learning and then acting as a big brother to those wanting to start in the creative industry.
Dyalvane is represented by Southern Guild in SA and Friedman Brenda in the US. The high-end ceramic art of Dyalvane is available via Imiso Ceramics in the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town or through their website.
See the more of the artist’s work at southernguild.co.za