CUT Masters student develops first sand-cast ceramic art in Africa
Sylvester Zanoxolo Mqeku, a Master’s in Studio Art and Design student at the Central University of Technology will be showcasing his award-winning sand-cast ceramic art at his upcoming solo exhibition titled, ‘Birth of the Alter Natural’ which will run from 3 - 17 December 2022 at the StateoftheART Gallery in Cape Town.
Having recently won the StateoftheART Gallery Award 2021, he is currently completing his master’s dissertation and was commissioned as part of the Goethe Project Space (GPS) to host the first-ever public workshop on sand-cast ceramics at the University.
After completing school, he began his tertiary education at Nelson Mandela University, studying for a foundation certificate in art and studying Architectural Technology the following year. After two years of architectural design work, he realised his true passion was creating art.
He discovered sandcasting while reading encyclopaedias, and through research, he knew he wanted to try it. His first success was in 2013 while doing his third year and learning more about bell casting. “When I saw that process, I told myself that if sand is strong enough to hold hot molten metal, I can surely put liquid clay inside and cast it and make all those nice textures. And then I discovered that there is someone already doing it from the Arizona desert known as Arcosanti. His name is Christopher Gryder, and there was nothing about him on google yet, but when he joined Pinterest around 2016, I emailed him and he responded and the sharing of knowledge and research followed,” said Mqeku.
As he continued exploring his sand-casting journey, he entrenched himself in the Bloemfontein art community, working at the National Museum and the Oliewenhuis Art Museum. Through this journey, he also took part in various international artist residencies including the inaugural Black Rock Senegal in Dakar in early 2020 and a ceramic artist residency in Vallauris, France.
Doing his master’s at CUT has allowed Mqeku to discover innovations and opportunities while exploring his art. “CUT has given me that very important golden step for further innovation. You have to appreciate places such as CUT when you’ve done things the way I have. I know many artists that would appreciate the opportunity to be a student because that’s all I needed, to be let in through the gate and encouraged to explore,” he added.
His upcoming solo exhibition will feature all the new pieces he created over the past few weeks. “My excitement and anxiety combined into the need to show these people who I am through my art. The past few weeks I’ve been fully entrenched in my work. I want South Africa to see the very first sand cast ceramics in Africa in style,” said Mqeku.
‘Birth of the Alter Natural’ will run from 3 - 17 December 2022 at the StateoftheART Gallery in Cape Town.
Sylvester Zanoxolo Mqeku, a Master’s in Studio Art and Design student at CUT, will be showcasing his award-winning sand-cast ceramic art at his upcoming solo exhibition from 3 - 17 December 2022 at the StateoftheART Gallery in Cape Town.Uploaded: 05 December 2022
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