Wallacedene ceramicist’s dream

Wallacedene ceramicist Simphiwe Mbunyuza.

Wallacedene ceramicist Simphiwe Mbunyuza will exhibit at the Art in the Yard Gallery, in Franschhoek, and Donald Greig Bronze Foundry and Gallery, at the V&A Waterfront, in coming weeks.

Northern News caught up with the gifted artist as he added finishing touches to a sculpture, Is’ngqusho, of a stamping log used in villages to crush samp and beans.

He’s particularly excited about the Franschhoek event from Friday October 21 to Wednesday November 14, where he will exhibit 35 pieces.

Mbunyuza is quick to point out that his work is strictly African, which he says tourists prefer.

While he rued missing a chance to exhibit his work at a recent month-long festival in France because of a lack of funds, he is upbeat about the two upcoming exhibitions.

He has been invited to another festival in France next year and hopes to raise enough money to pay for the trip by then.

The stamping log carries fond childhood memories for the artist.

“I used to go home after school to find my grandmother stamping and, hungry, I would get a quick bite from whatever was in the kitchen while she worked with the (stamping log). I’d also help her out some days and stamp too.”

Mbunyuza, who studied fine arts at the Walter Sisulu University from 2010 to 2014, moved to Kraaifontein to pursue his career because he felt art was less appreciated in the Eastern Cape, something he hopes to change one day.

He dreams of setting up a ceramics factory in his hometown of Butterworth (Gcuwa) to boost the local economy.

“People in the Eastern Cape move to big cities because they’re tyrying to escape unemployment and poverty in the Eastern Cape.

“I am planning on building this huge factory of ceramics to tackle unemployment and help develop skills.”

He said there are several abandoned factories he could use in the Eastern Cape and hopes to find funding support from the state for the project.

After his exhibition in Franschhoek, he plans to return to his studio with new ideas for the “tourist period”, from October to March, when the demand for his ceramics is high.