From homestead to roadside to gallery: The social life of late twentieth century and early twenty-first century Zulu ceramics
Buss, Julia Louise
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My research considers the vessels of select women ceramists in and from rural KwaZulu-Natal and reflects on the changing contexts in which their work is utilized, consumed and displayed. The emphasis of my research is on the significance of ceramics in cultural practices and how this has changed or been maintained due to altered social and political circumstances and the changing dynamics of research. Additionally, when ceramic vessels are purchased by tourists, collectors and patrons they are subjected to a range of dialogues between maker and buyer. Finally, vessels may be selected to be displayed in exhibitions or held in collections of museums and galleries; once again, then they will be spoken about and they will speak to us on different terms. Each one of these movements in the life of a pot is reflected in the artist’s consideration of form, pattern, balance, shape, colour and symmetry of the vessels. Similarly, each one of these steps in the process engages with a different type of audience in a dynamic and significant way. I investigate how the authors of these vessels become involved in and negotiate a dialogue between themselves, their work and an exterior context that always projects its own voice about the artists and their work.