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Mr. Chuma Maweni, Ceramic Artist from Cape Town, South Africa

  Mr. Chuma Maweni, Ceramic Artist from Cape Town, South Africa   Image courtesy of Southern Guild/Cr. Hayden Phipps 1.      How did you...

 Mr. Chuma Maweni, Ceramic Artist

from Cape Town, South Africa


Image courtesy of Southern Guild/Cr. Hayden Phipps

1.     How did your career journey start? Who/what inspired you to start this art journey?

CM: My interest in ceramics can be traced back to some of my earliest memories, when I would make clay figures of bulls and cows while playing on the muddy riverbanks in the Eastern Cape. This kick-started my creative journey. Just before matric, I realised I liked drawing, so I chose to explore graphic design during my tertiary studies.

The first year of the curriculum meant doing everything though – painting, ceramics, sculpture, stained glass, printing, and many other forms of art. During second year, we got to choose the direction we wanted to go in and by that time, I had developed a passion for ceramics, so that’s what I ended up pursuing.

I graduated with a B-Tech degree in ceramics from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2002, before spending a few years teaching ceramics to rural women in a poverty alleviation programme run by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I then moved to Cape Town in 2006 to work for the Light From Africa Foundation, which ran the Art in the Forest ceramics studio, gallery and outreach centre. There, I mentored and taught other ceramicists, before finally opening my own studio in Woodstock in 2016. I have since relocated to a new space in the Port of Cape Town. 

2.     Kindly share some information about your arts, products and services.

CM: I create distinctive, hand-thrown ceramic pieces that combine contemporary hand-coiled shapes with precisely patterned incisions. My focus is usually on ceramic vessels and furniture with striking silhouettes, the latter finding its largest form to date in my Imbizo series of tables, side-tables and stools. 

Image courtesy : Southern Guild/Cr. Hayden Phipps

                                    Image courtesy : Southern Guild/Cr. Hayden Phipps

3.     What kind of challenges did you face in the beginning of your solo career?

 CM: I think my biggest concern was how I was going to make a living do this. There was a fair degree of risk involved and I had a wife to support. The other concern was how I was going to go about getting the exposure I needed to sell my work and become successful. What kind of designs and items would people want to buy on a regular basis? I needed to build up a suitable clientele base and the challenge was to figure out how to do this.


4.     What did you do to hone your craft when you were first starting out?

 CM: Evolving and refining your craft tends to involve a lot of experimentation, and so that’s what I did - I experimented a lot with different designs, shapes and colours. In fact, that’s how the Imbizo series began. I had created some side tables with green tops and knew I had to show them to someone. I took them to Southern Guild and Julian loved them – and so Imbizo was born.


5.     Do you consider yourself to be an Art Entrepreneur?

 CM: Honestly, I've never thought of myself as one, but one could say that I am one. I am an artist, but I also try to apply my art in a functional way. I’m constantly thinking of new ways to apply my craft and create new and exciting pieces that will appeal to people. There is this constant theme of evolution – which I guess is something you have to do on a regular basis as an entrepreneur. You constantly have to evolve as a business in order to stay relevant and grow.

 6.     How do you feel you have empowered other people?

 CM: Over the years I have taught various classes, workshops and colleagues. I have also told my story to other aspiring artists whether in ceramics or other fields. I hope that by doing this I have encouraged and empowered others to follow their dreams, and I hope that they see how hard work, dedication and determination can pay off.


7.     What are your future plans? What is your vision for the next five years?

CM: I hope to have a solo exhibition in the next year or two. I would also like to hire a few apprentices. My goal would not only to have the extra help, but also to train young artists who can then go on and use the skills and knowledge to further their own careers.


8.     What advice do you have for new artists/entrepreneurs who want to start a career in some art form?

CM: I would tell them to have faith in themselves and in their product. A great support structure is also key in helping you succeed. I know when I first began working as an artist it was tough and I never envisioned that I would be where I am right now – you just have to keep pushing on and never give up.


  Image courtesy : Southern Guild/Cr. Micky Hoyle & Xigera  Image courtesy : Southern Guild/Cr. Adriaan Louw

LinkedIn: (59) Chuma Maweni | LinkedIn

·       Facebook: (2) Chuma M. Maweni | Facebook

·       Instagram: C.H.U.M.A. M. M.A.W.E.N.I (@chumamaweni) • Instagram photos and videos

·       Visit: Chuma Maweni - Southern Guild

Interviewed by : Ms. Nisha Nikam Bhagwate

Editor - Interior Vista E-Magazine
Mob: +91 7039923179

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