Zizipho Poswa, "Umthwalo I", One-of-a-Kind Ceramic Sculpture For Sale
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Zizipho Poswa, "Umthwalo I", One-of-a-Kind Ceramic Sculpture

Estimated Production TimeIn Stock Now


This large scale ceramic sculpture, made from Walford white clay, is part of Cape Town-based artist Zizipho Poswa's "Umthwalo" series. The practice of "umthwalo" refers to the traditional way that Xhosa women in the rural Eastern Cape of South Africa (and elsewhere in the country) carry around large items, balancing them on their heads. It is not uncommon to see people in rural areas walking long distances with bundles of wood, buckets and parcels perched atop their heads. This body of work was inspired by Zizipho's experience growing up as a young Xhosa woman in the rural Eastern Cape, where she witnessed such practices on a daily basis. She says: "Growing up in the Eastern Cape, one of the important chores I did was to fetch water from the river and the most fascinating thing was 'ukungecekelela', balancing a vessel on the head. I am astounded by the incredible power of concentration and patience that is exuded when one walks the long distance to deliver the water home. I have fond memories of my experience as we carried different types of vessels and the 'inkathas' we would create to protect the head and support the 'iemele' (a metal bucket). I have drawn inspiration from these three elements: the head, 'inkatha' and the vessel forms." This totemic ceramic sculpture is an ode to the endurance and strength of Xhosa women in both traditional societies, where they carry many domestic responsibilities, and in modern, urban settings, where many women must juggle roles as caretakers and breadwinners often for multiple generations. "Umthwalo I" also has personal significance for the artist, as it pays homage to her own journey as a Xhosa woman carrying various responsibilities for her family and Community and wearing different hats. The sculptures juxtapose curvaceous, simplified forms with sensual, delicate details, all emblazoned with colour and texture reflecting Zizipho's grounding in textile design. She studied surface design, majoring in textiles, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and draws on this textile knowledge to amalgamate the visual stimuli she encounters in her daily life into a simplified pattern language. Zizipho’s abstract yet tactile hand-pinched bowls, vessels and vases celebrate her love of colour and pattern. Her work for Southern Guild explores her personal experience and heritage in monumental sculptural pieces. Alongside lauded South African ceramicist Andile Dyalvane, she co-founded Imiso Ceramics, whose handmade tableware has earned the studio an international following. She received the prestigious Fellow Award from Ceramic South Africa and in 2017 she was awarded an Mbokodo Award in the Traditional and Indigenous Art category. She has exhibited her work at Design Miami and The Salon Art + Design in New York.


  • Creator
    Zizipho Poswa (Artist)
  • Production Type
    One of a Kind
  • Production Time
    Available Now
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Condition
  • Dimensions
    H 19.69 in. x W 19.69 in. x D 28.75 in.H 50 cm x W 50 cm x D 73 cm
  • Seller Location
    Capetown, ZA
  • Reference Number
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About The Maker

Southern Guild

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Southern Guild has spearheaded the high-end design category in Africa, propelling its artist-designers to make spirited, challenging and complex work. Its highly curated exhibitions have redefined global perceptions of African design and escalated its value on the international market. Since being founded in 2008 as the sole gallery representing locally made limited-edition design, Southern Guild has birthed a new category for artists and designers in South Africa. In 2011 it became the first African gallery to present at Design Miami, and in 2015 it was the first to be featured at Christie’s London’s annual design auction. The gallery shows regularly at Design Miami in Basel and the US, at Design Days Dubai and the Collective Design Fair in New York, resulting in sales to leading architects, top collectors and respected museums. It has had work from its collections included in Vitra Design Museum’s “Making Africa” exhibition and “Beauty–Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial” at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Against the backdrop of a design industry that is still fairly young, Southern Guild gives designers a platform to reimagine what is possible. Founders Trevyn and Julian McGowan are embedded in the South African cultural landscape and play integral roles in guiding, advising and mentoring designers.

About the Seller

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1stdibs seller since 2018
Located in Capetown, ZA
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