Bay ceramist moulds success

[caption id="attachment_240891" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Lookout Sibanda shows off some of his work Picture: Brian Witbooi[/caption]

While Bay- based ceramic artist Lookout Sibanda may not have sat in a lecture room to learn the intricacies of ceramics, he believes talent alone could not have brought him this far in his quest to make a success of his life.

Sibanda, 31, said constant practice and his love of ceramics played an essential role in nurturing his talent, which recently caught the eye of knitwear mogul Laduma Ngxokolo, who picked Sibanda’s business, Lookout Ceramics, as one of the emerging businesses he will provide mentorship and financial support for in partnership with Chivas Regal.

“I chose art because it is something I love and although I could have chosen something different, I don’t think I would have succeeded as this is where my heart is,” Sibanda said.

The Zimbabwe-born ceramist designs a versatile range of ceramic pieces, mostly suited for home decoration and kitchen use.

Sibanda discovered his artistic side in high school as a painter but had not yet learnt to make ceramics.

When he could not enrol at university due to financial constraints, he put his talent to good use and started working for his mentor, ceramist Elza van Dijk, in Pretoria where he developed an interest in the creation of ceramics.

“When you paint ceramics, you only get to be the last person to work on a piece that has gone through a long process that you were not a part of. I felt that was not enough for me, so that’s when I asked Elza van Dijk to teach me how to make ceramics,” he said.

Sibanda moved to Port Elizabeth in 2015 in search of a different scene and started working at Pret-a-Pot, a Sydenham pottery store owned by Nicole Kingston.

“I would say Nicole has been a boss from heaven because while working for her, she also allows me to make my own pieces using her material, to sell on the side.

“I don’t think I would be here without her and her mother, Donve Branch,” Sibanda said. Branch is herself an award- winning Eastern Cape potter known for her high-quality, pit-fired work.

Sibanda started Lookout Ceramics in 2016 and continues to juggle between his business and his job at Pret-a-Pot.

He has exhibited his works, of which the prices range from R50 to R4000, in various exhibitions around the Eastern Cape, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Sibanda is one of 10 artists whose work is included in Collective 2018 – 10 Artists from Nelson Mandela Bay which opens at the RK Contemporary Art Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel, near Cape Town, tomorrow.

Curated by Bay artist Anthony Harris, it runs until April 3 and includes works by Harris, Sibanda and Branch, as well as Anton Momberg, Bretten-Ann Moolman, Lydia Holmes, Estelle Marais, Greg Kerr, Jaco Benade and upcoming painter Brunn Kramer.

On being picked alongside Blaqmore Leather co-owners Simo Sizani and Lutho Magaga to receive financial assistance for their businesses from Chivas Regal and mentorship from Ngxokolo, Sibanda said he would do his best to make a success of his business to benefit not only himself but the community as well.

“I believe [Chivas and Ngxokolo] want to see my business succeed and employ other people. I will do my best to create opportunities and extend my skills to others because that is the real purpose of an entrepreneur.”

Sibanda said he had already identified and planned to mentor a high school pupil who is struggling academically, but is “good with his hands”.

“This is not mine alone ... I don’t think this opportunity is just for me; it’s an opening to do bigger things.”

Sibanda’s work is available for purchase at Mohair SA and Lookout Ceramics on Facebook or @lookout_ceramics on Instagram.