MEET OUR ARTISTS

Please note all our work is signed so if you are looking for someone in particular, check the base of the piece for the initials of the artist who made it. Our artists receive 5% commission on their sales.

Toni Burton

Toni Spiller Burton hails from KwaZulu-Natal. She studied at Michaelis School of Fine Art (UCT) where she majored in Ceramics and History of Art.  She taught high school art for 15 years and then became a ceramics lecturer. She taught the members of Zizamele Ceramics on a Craft Learnership and then resigned from lecturing to start Zizamele Ceramics in 2008.

She has 3 daughters (two of whom work part time in the business) and lives in nearby Noordhoek.

Namhla Solontsi

Namhla “Signoria” Solontsi  is the most mature member of the team and has been involved with clay since 2003.  She is married and has 3 children.  Her youngest daughter was born in 2011.

Signoria has a brilliant eye for colour and usually the brightest items at Zizamele will be made by her.  Meg Ploughman, Zizamele’s own personal trainer says that Signoria enjoys the exercise classes and is trying out some of Meg’s recipes in order to be more healthy.  Signoria will be starting computer classes in 2013 as she would like to become more involved in the admin side of the business.

Vuyelwa Katshwa

Vuyelwa Katshwa has built her own home in the courtyard at Signoria’s house and lives with her partner and her daughter who is 13 years old and who starts high school next year.

Vuyelwa is responsible for all the candlesticks and vases at Zizamele.  She makes these by hand using press-moulds.  She also does the electric lamps and porcelain lights.  Her loyal clients clamour for these products and in 2011 she made 300 of these single-handedly for USA client Homegoods.  It did not surprise us to learn that they sold out in record time!

Sisanda Mbana

Sisanda Mbana came to Cape Town to do the learnership in craft production at False Bay College in 2006.  This is where she met Toni Burton, her lecturer, and who now heads the Zizamele Ceramics team.  In 2007 Sisanda won an award at the Ceramics National Exhibition for one of her early Bambanani Bowls in red clay, as well as an award for her 12-lady Bambanani Bowl in red clay with metallic finish.  This show stopper (as seen in her photo) was subsequently bought for the Corobrik Collection which is housed in Pretoria.  Sisanda has two young daughters and has built her own home in Masiphumulele.

Joyce Mfene

Joyce Mfene is one of the original artists who trained with Toni in 2007.  She left briefly but returned following a bad taxi accident.  She has developed her own product which is the range of platters.  She is also tasked with firing and glazing the ceramics so she fulfils a critical role in the business.  She lives with her 5 year old daughter who attends the pre-school on our campus.  This is made possible by the Staff Development Fund.

Nkuli Sam

Nkuli Sam has worked for Zizamele on and off for about 7 years.  She prefers to work part time in ceramics so that she can devote time to her other passion which is beading.

Her incredible eye for detail, fastidious painting technique and meticulous artwork make her bowls something really special.

Together with Toni, she helped develop the Women of Africa range which is enormously popular and is currently working on the Africa Geometrics range which is on charcoal clay.

Nkuli is a true artist and we are so blessed to have her in our team.

Pumeza Koshe

Pumeza Koshe is the youngest member of Zizamele.  She joined us part time to pack an order for The Netherlands and was so impressive with her attention to detail that we asked her to stay.

Since then, she has run the Imhoff retail outlet (sadly now closed), perfected her skills in dispatching large and small orders and general running of the office and studio.  In 2017, she completed a computer course and is now set to take on the admin tasks in the office. She has one son who is at the pre-school on our property and a partner called William.

There is nothing Pumeza cannot master and she has since perfected the art of glazing and firing the kilns.  Every now and again, she even does some slipcasting and painting!

She is a real team-player.  If you choose to visit the studio please ask for her.

Songezo Mrwebi

Songezo Mrwebi  joined the Zizamele team when he was only 18.  He had been forced to leave school as a result of losing both parents to an AIDS.  He showed a strong aptitude for clay and was signed onto the Ceramics South Africa 6-month course where he learnt wheel throwing, press-moulding and coil building under experienced teachers who were volunteer members of the association.

Following this training, our wonderful potter, Elaine Peterson guided him in his early efforts on the wheel and eventually when Elaine retired we were able to hand over the throwing of the bowls entirely to Songezo.  He has his own range of salad bowls which he produces in three sizes.

The slip-casting of our Big 5, Protect Us and Cactus Pot range is also in his capable hands.

In 2016, he was approached to take part in a mentorship programme under the Dali Tambo Foundation.  This was part of The Long March to Freedom National Heritage Monument.  The monument in a local park called Fountains Valley, in Pretoria consists presently of 200 life-sized bronze sculptures, walking towards freedom.  This number is increasing all the time and should total 400 once it is completed.  These are the heroes who fought for democracy over the past four centuries.  He was taught how to build a sculpture using an armature and to create life-size proportions.  He also visited the Bronze Foundry and watched the casting of a bronze sculpture.

When he is not busy with clay, he is a keen soccer supporter and is father to a young son of 4.  He is also a keen teacher of clay and at times we take his pottery wheel to The Watershed where he demonstrates and gives the public a turn to make something by hand.