In celebration of national women’s month, the African Art Centre cordially invites you to a group exhibition entitled
‘A Woman’s Touch’ showcasing finely hand-crafted ceramic pottery produced by Jabu Nala, Bongi Nala and Mabusi
Ntuli. This exhibition will not only showcase exquisite handcrafted vessels but will also celebrate the advancement of
the ceramic pottery tradition and contemporary techniques explored by the exhibitors.
Initially utilised as ‘izinkamba’ (household vessels) for drinking, serving, transporting and brewing sorghum–based
beer, the hand-coiled beer pots were not only highly valued by Zulu people but also by other indigenous
communities in Southern Africa. The Nala family is internationally renowned for maintaining the traditional practice
through three generations. The late Nesta Nala learnt her skills from her mother Simphiwe, then passed her handcoiled
vessel technique to her daughters Jabu, Thembi and Bongi at their home in Oyaya in the,Eshowe district
Contemporary young artists continue to marvel at the workmanship and exceptional quality of the Nala ceramic
wares skilfully burnished and embellished with ‘amasumpa’ warts.
Jabu and Bongi Nala have nurtured this cultural tradition and have also introduced distinctive individualty to their
Jabulile Nala (1969), now residing in Johannesburg continues to produce her ceramic ware with natural red and grey
clay dug from Oyaya grounds near her home in Eshowe. Even though this clay has to be ground and sieved prior to
being modelled into pots, Jabu enjoys the process and the resulting elasticity of the clay. 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 exploring 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 skills 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. The African Art
Centre is thrilled to host Jabu at this exhibition which will celebrate the continuing family legacy and the marriage of
traditional and modern contemporary design techniques.
Bongi Nala (1960) is Nesta Nala’s eldest daughter living in Oyaya village in Eshowe. Bongi learnt pottery-making
skills from her mother at the age of 12, initially 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 (1981) hails from the KwaMaphumulo area in KwaZulu-Natal. She currently lives in the
Illovo district outside. Durban and is 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 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. The Centre is proud to be showcasing this brilliant young talent as proof of the continuing
ceramic pottery tradition now combining with modern contemporary ceramic pottery trends.
Exhibition Opening Event with Madosini
This showcase of work by three women ceramicists who are preserving and expanding on the pottery tradition will
open with a special event at the African Art Centre on 11 August featuring a performance by the legendary Latozi
Mpahleni, better known as Madosini. Madosini makes and plays the Uhadi (music bow), Umrhubhe (mouth bow)
and is also an expert on the Isitolotolo (Jewish harp). Director of the African Art Centre, Magdalene Reddy says
“Madosini is one of South Africa’s living legends and the Centre is delighted that she will share her traditional Xhosa
music at the Woman’s Touch opening It is a proud moment for women artists, let us celebrate the talents, skills and
special qualities of our women every day!”
The exhibition will open on Thursday 11 August 2016 at 17:30 for 18:00 and run until 3 September 2016.
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
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