If the art of pottery is a slow dance between the earth and the potters hand – then the art of painting must be seen as a dance between the brush and the hand of the artist.
Far away in the north of South Africa, close to the town that was once Louis Trichart, is the home of Sarah Munyai.
For centuries Venda women like Sarah have made functional pots for eating, storing, serving, cooking and keeping beer. They have decorated them with colours that occur naturally
in the local earth and burnt local grasses to bake them.
The road to Mukondeni is bumpy, dusty and donga-riddled. Goats, chickens and cattle wander across the road and curious children stare or wave as you pass.
The village consists of a ramble of round thatched huts, some half-built modern buildings, with a church and a school set under an acacia tree.
The streets of the village are lined with pots, busy chickens and dogs basking lazily in the sun as the women of the village stroll elegantly with pots and baskets on their heads, carrying their wares as they go about their daily tasks.
Sarah is a simple woman dressed very simply, with a traditional kanga or cloth around her waist and socks and white takkies on her feet.
She has a Zion Christian Church badge on her pocket and around her neck a cellphone with a sticker that says “happy”. Five days a week, for 80 years Sarah has made pots. She has never learnt to read or write but has provided for her family and pioneered Mukondeni Pottery, becoming a major potter in her own right. Sarah’s mother taught her how to make pots, and her mother taught her before that.
The shed-like building that is now Mukondeni Pottery is surrounded by thousands of clay pots. Small pots, big pots, long pots, round pots, tall pots. Enormous pots that evoke images of the Arabian Nights, plain pots awaiting colour and pattern, finished pots baking in the sun, their graphite designs gleaming silver.
Sarah has combined creativity and resourcefulness to successfully provide for her 9 children.
Her greatest pleasure is derived from the artistic fulfillment she gets from twisting long coils of clay to form her pots.
I am not a potter but am an artist. I gain much pleasure from painting life objects and things. Clay pots are so distinctive and individual to the potter.
So to is a painting.
I am inviting you to walk with me on Saturday 25th June 2022, to hear more about Sarah and to put your imprint to your own clay pot.
Starting time 10am with reference supplied and guidance, you to can gain artistic fulfillment.
A cost of £60 includes your refreshments and lunch.
Address, Sandon Parish Rooms, Lichfield Road, Nr Stafford, ST18 0DN
Give me a call or what’s app on 07714100921 to book or for more information.
Extracts for this blog by Bridget Hilton-Barber