Zizipho Poswa: ‘I celebrate my heritage, and I forge my own way’
South African designer and artist Zizipho Poswa talks about her iLobola collection and the traditions that inspired it, in a new video by Southern Guild Gallery in cooperation with BMW South Africa
The work and creativity of Zizipho Poswa is celebrated through a solo exhibition and film by South African gallery Southern Guild. The Cape Town-based ceramicist has long paid tribute to African womanhood through her large-scale ceramic pieces, and with iLobola the artist and designer delves deeper into Xhosa traditions.
Watch: Zizipho Poswa’s iLobola
The new film accompanying Poswa’s first solo exhibition celebrates the inspiration behind the iLobola series, a collection of ceramic and bronze pieces referencing the rituals of lobola, or bride-wealth. The tradition, Poswa explains, is based on the symbolic value that cattle carry in Xhosa culture, offered as a form of payment to the bride’s family after a process of negotiation. This practice, observes Poswa, is crucial for ‘ukwakhiwa kobuhlobo’, the building of relations between the two families.
The collection comprises 12 large-scale sculptures, each representing a different element, or role-playing aspect of the lobola process. The vessels’ textured and colourful anthropomorphic forms are topped by a pair of horns, referencing the cattle symbolism.
‘There are many things you can call me,’ recites Poswa in the video. ‘I’m an artist, a businesswoman, a breadwinner, I am a mother, a daughter, a sister and a survivor. My inspiration comes from my culture, and from the path I walked as a woman. I am the woman I am because of my heritage. I stand in tribute to the other women who have shared the load. So working with clay is like a dance, it will follow if you lead it. But once it goes in the kiln, anything can happen. It’s like a grown up child: you have to let go. I celebrate my heritage, and I forge my own way: my work is an act of intention, and this is what must be known about African women.’ §