Tucked away behind a design centre in Woodstock, one of Cape Town’s bustling creative areas, three excitingly creative artists turn lumps of clay into unique works of ceramic art. These are the brothers Siyabonga Fani and Madoda Fani with their friend Chuma Maweni. On a typical day you will find Siyabonga in the gallery, hand building his latest piece while “minding the shop”. A visit around the back to the studio will reward the senses as you find Chuma on the wheel and Madoda burnishing a sculpture to a high sheen – all this surrounded by unique creations in various states of readiness.
It doesn't stop there. All three feel strongly about giving back to the community and being good role models. They have teamed up with Vukuhambe (Rise up and Move - Xhosa) Disabled Centre to empower people with disabilities in ceramics product manufacturing. This collaboration is aimed at job-creation to promote employability for youths with disabilities. Studio space and time is given to teaching and production of tableware which is then sold at fairs and market....Fani Ceramics
Siyabonga Fani founded the business as Siyabonga Ceramics and set up the gallery and studio in 2013 after working with ceramics since the late 1990s while a student at Sivuyile College (now named College of Cape Town, Guguletu Campus). His art studies earned him numerous awards for sculpture and graphic design. After a 4 year stint working, he went on to study Business Management and Skills. Siyabonga feels that it is important for artists to empower themselves business wise in order to "change the perception in our townships that art is for people who have failed in school by making it a sustainable business that employs many people". Siyabonga's success is a culmination of his studies, travels, design opportunities, networking and most importantly his drive and indisputable talent as an artist.Fani Ceramics
Siyabonga's preference is to hand coil his pieces, rather than use a wheel, as he likes the control it gives him and how he and the clay are able to communicate. "I don't like to plan things that are too perfect, I don't plan my work, the clay and I just create that magic together." This is evidenced in the flowing, organic shapes of many of his pieces.
Siyabonga's CV lists numerous exhibitions, awards and media articles.
Madoda Fani is a critically acclaimed Cape Town artist who has been plying his trade since leaving school in the mid 1980s. His first job out of school was as a ceramics painter from where he entered a few exhibitions and became noticed. Ceramics became, and remains, his passion. His 2000 award at Le Salon International de l'artisanal de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso provided a tremendous boost to his career and he hasn't looked back since. After working at a studio in Cape Town for many years, Madoda decided to go to Johannesburg to start his own business and to gain inspiration and training from the KwaZulu-Natal artists there who were specialists at burnishing and smoke-firing. As well as the beauty of the finished product, smoke firing is a more cost effective form of ceramics, requiring just a stone, vegetable oil and newspaper - plus hard work, skill and patience!
After 3 years, Madoda returned to Cape Town and joined his brother Siyabonga at his Woodstock studio.
Madoda produces fine-tuned minimalist pieces with intensely crafted finishing detail. His most recent work draws inspiration from the natural world, with curvaceous, coiled forms echoing those found in nature and detailed hand-carved and burnished surfaces referencing insect forms and cattle. As well as natural forms Madoda finds inspiration in the people and places around him from alien movies and Japanese body armour to to the subtle shape of a woman's body.
Madoda too, boasts an impressive list of exhibitions, awards and media articles.
Chuma Maweni is a respected ceramic artist producing high quality ceramics depicting his spirit as an artist, exploring traditional craft with a fresh contemporary voice. Chuma hails from the rural Transkei area of the Eastern Cape in South Africa where the muddy river banks provided the clay from which he and his cousins would mould the shapes of the cows and bulls around them. Now a fully qualified and experienced Ceramic Designer, Chuma's career has come a long way. "Growing up, art was not something that was taken seriously. It was always viewed as a hobby not a career. So having self confidence and belief in your talent becomes a challenge."
Chuma moved to Cape Town in 2006 as Studio Manger of an outreach program working to provide creative opportunities and art therapy. In this space he also produced his own distinctive brand of ceramics designed to be decorative and functional. About 2 years ago Chuma set out to become an independent artist and now shares the creative space at the Fani studio.
He loves the versatility of clay and is a whizz on the wheel where he ensures that each and every piece he throws is unique. Shape, clean lines and texture epitomise his style while he claims to find inspiration from anything or anyone around him from the work of another artist to the city architecture around him, to his background and culture and even the tiniest seed or coloured bead.
As with his two colleagues, Chuma continues to achieve exhibitions, awards and media attention.
Shop our favourites
Each month we select a number of pieces to showcase the diversity and quality of our art. Here is just a selection of what we offer, all of which you can see in our shop.