A Women’s Touch (Pottery Exhibition) 2017

African Art Centre cordially invites you to ‘A Women’s Touch’ exhibition in commemoration with national women’s month. This exhibition celebrates five extraordinory women in art, showcasing hand-crafted ceramic pottery; Jabu Nala, Bongi Nala-Mahlaba, Witty Nyide, Busisiwe Ntuli and Phumzile Mahlaba.

In 2016 the African African Centre presented its first edition of ‘A Women’s Touch’ providing an insight into what historically was part of a Zulu woman’s livihood.   Made from clay and fired in a kiln, these vessels originated as beer pots utilized for drinking, serving, transporting and brewing sorghum–based beer. The hand-coiled beer pots were not only highly valued by Zulu people but were part of important community ceremonies.  

Continuing the renowned Nala tradition, Jabu and Bongi Nala will present their ceramic ware with natural red and grey clay dug from Oyaya grounds near their home in Eshowe.  Over the years, Jabu has pushed boundaries of the ceramic tradition by not only merely decorating her pots with incised patterns and ‘amasumpa’ but also explored various forms and textures on her work. Her special ceramic vessel shapes have featured protruding cylindrical multiple openings, hollow circular openings on pots, flat necked ‘uphiso’ pots and cylindrical vase shapes.  Her mastery of ceramic pottery making has been acknowledged locally and internationally by art galleries, private and public collectors. Jabu has recently returned from the successful annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in USA, where she has participated every year since 2010.

Bongi Nala began producing pots to sell in her community for domestic purposes.  Since she lost her husband, ceramic-making became her only source of income which was used to raise her children. Bongi now not only sells her work in her community but also to tourists visiting the Nala home in Eshowe and at the African Art Centre.  Bongi values the ceramic tradition and believes it must be sustained. She has trained her eldest daughter, Phumzile in pottery-making skills and both mother and daughter often travel together to sell their work. Bongi and Phumzile enjoy making the traditional ‘izinkamba’ shapes in various sizes. They have also both begun exploring unique stylized vase and calabash shaped pots, some with rough textured surfaces. The exhibition will also feature a selection of pots made by Phumzile.

Mabusi (Busisiwe) Ntuli hails from the KwaMaphumulo area in KwaZulu-Natal. She is currently studying towards a degree in Jewellery Design at the Durban University of Technology. Mabusi is thrilled to be sharing a platform with the renowned Nala family who she has always looked up to. It was only when she enrolled at the BAT Centre Visual Art Classes that she had an opportunity to learn ceramic pottery-making skills, taught by Clive Sithole. In her own words, she states that ‘My work is greatly inspired by the Nala Family and by Clive Sithole’.  Mabusi’s ceramic vessels are modeled in terracotta, earthenware and white clay and fired in a kiln. Mabusi’s work displays a creative combination of traditional and modern ceramic-making methods. Her pots are molded into unique ‘ukhamba’ beer pot shapes, sometimes embellished in pierced patterns, further smoke-fired or glazed.

This year, whilst still keeping the pots as a focal point of the exhibition, the Centre has invited a young woman who has taken this traditional art-from and re-conceptulalised it into a contemporary exposition. Witty Nyide  works  within mainly the scope of art education, in both formal and informal contexts, including museum environments.   Most recently she has taught the visual art component of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Bachelor of Education programme and the painting module at theUKZN’s  Centre for Visual Art. Her research, education and community work extends to jobs with the Durban Art Gallery and Caversham Centre for Artists and Writers. In 2007 and 2008, Witty taught Drawing and Painting at the African Arts Centre’s Velobala Fine art classes, which is also where she started her own art development when she joined the class in 2003.   Witty presented papers at conferences such as the South African Visual Arts Historians Conference 2016 and Art and Social Justice Conference 2010 and exhibited at galleries both locally and internationally.

The exhibition will open on Thursday 17 August 2017 at 17:30 for 18:00 and run until 16 September 2017.

For more details contact the African Art Centre on 031 312 3804/5 or email


About the African Art Centre:

The African Art Centre is a fine art and crafts centre with a gallery and a retail outlet.  Our core work focusses on artist development, showcase and growing the creative economy.

The African Art Centre was initiated in 1959 by the Natal Region of the South African Institute for Race Relations.

Role of the African Art Centre during the Apartheid Era:

  • Medium of communication in a divided society
  • Worked towards bringing people with common interests together
  • Public showcase of African artists and crafters

In 1984, the African Art Centre was registered as a non profit section 21 company

AAC Recognizes and addresses: 

  • The problems of unemployment
  • The socio-economic consequences of South Africa’s history
  • The need for all people to have the opportunity to work and earn a living
  • The intrinsic value of human dignity achieved through being able to work
  • The need to kindle and stimulate self-motivation through acquired skills
  • The need for personal gain and development to be linked as directly possible to personal effort - self-sustaining and economically


Creating an enabling environment for the sustainable development, promotion and preservation of African arts and crafts with special focus on KwaZulu-Natal.


  • To provide a platform for training and development
  • To provide an outlet for promoting and selling works done by KZN artists and crafters
  • To create jobs and a sustainable income for KZN artists and crafters
  • To provide a professional space for young and established artists and crafters to exhibit
  • To discover, encourage and nurture works of creativity, originality and the highest quality
  • To communicate and document traditional and contemporary trends in local arts and crafts
  • To preserve our cultural heritage