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Interview | Andile Dyalvane – beyond ceramics

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As a young boy growing up in rural Eastern Cape, Andile was fascinated with objects, and mainly the bone china that most mothers would keep for special guests. Out of curiosity he tried to understand what was so special about this beautiful material. So he tried to carve shapes out of animal bones and soon gave up on this mission when it didn’t work out.

In school, he enjoyed history and would draw sketches as a form of escape. By the time he was in high school in Standard 9 (Grade 11), he met a friend and they would compete with each other in drawings. His father wanted him to become a lawyer and in 1995 after matric he moved to Cape Town to stay with his brother in a hostel in Gugulethu while looking for a tertiary school.

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It was while living with his brother that he was introduced to a guy studying at an Arts College in Gugulethu that he knew this is what he was interested in. Andile enrolled at the college and quickly became a top student, and a school trip around Cape Town Art Galleries and Museums made him realise that ‘everything around us starts with a sketch’. He had a photographic memory and could draw anything. So he would draw all the time, draw everything. More than school, this was his passion.

Why did you choose pottery as a creative outlet/ form of expression?
Drawing was the basics of my studies at college. In the 2nd year, I chose 2 majors. Ceramics – which came naturally as they reminded me of my childhood and Graphic Design.

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It all started to make sense. After college, I was recuited by a factory that mass-produced pottery and my job was to draw oranges. I had to follow a template, and learnt how to observe colour, objects. And I knew then that my skills were not limited to drawing, “if I can draw it, then I can make it”.

So for 5years I worked in Art ceramics at Potters Shop, and clients started following my signature. A huge opportunity presented itself when I went to an Art residency in Denmark and I was one of the youngest participants. After that trip I applied for a scholarship to study full time at University of PE for a National Diploma in Ceramic Science.

It was around that time that I decided to create my own signature and started looking at African artifacts like headrests etc. My first solo exhibition at Prestigious gallery sold out and the 3 last pieces were bought by the National Museum. Design Indaba then invited me to exhibit under Emerging Creatives in 2004, and I was featured in ELLE Décor.

Imiso Design Team was created with a team of creative friends from different artistic spaces in 2006. I started creating my own range under Imiso Ceramics.

Tell us about your new collection:
This time I only use leather and the work was inspired by a project I did for a private client who asked me to design interiors for their Yacht. The new Leather collection will be showcased in America at an exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico 9-13 July and then next in Palo Alto 14 July – 04 August.

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African design, where are we and where should we be taking it
People are looking to Africa right now, because of our history and heritage, we have the most substance. Africans are resourceful and good at repurposing materials. And most importantly our story has a lot of Soul.
What are your favourite pieces?
Transitional pieces. Those pieces that I create when I am in my zone and they spark the direction for the next collection.

What’s next for iMiso?
California, Palo Alto centre 14 July – 04 August
29 Aug – 10 Taipei Residency. What I love about the East is that they support their Arts and for them Ceramics are an integral part of their history. They work with Porcelain, purest type of clay

What does luxury mean to you?
Something I can’t put a value to.

Ideal weekend?
Me, kids, wife on the beach. Taking images of the kids and I would come back and cook them a beautiful meal

If you didn’t live in CT, where would you live in Africa?
Ethiopia, for the undiluted heritage, incredible fabrics, culture.

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For Andile’s beautifully designed, high end ceramics visit iMiso Ceramics on www.imisoceramics.co.za.