In this episode, I chat with clay healer and ceramic artist Andile Dyalvane. Andile is the co-founder of Imiso a high-end brand of bespoke, conversational, and collectibles ceramics. Andile is recognised among the worlds leading ceramicists shaping the future of ceramics. In our conversation, he takes through the journey of where it all began in Ngobozana the village in the Eastern Cape where he grew up.
As a young boy herding livestock ,Andile and his fellow shepherds would also play in the river, digging into the clay on the river banks making objects and competing to see who could make the best ones. Although this was for amusement for Andile it became to mean so much more. He felt drawn to working with clay feeling the pull of his ancestors to honour this special gift, to do his community proud.
He also recalls spending time doodling in class rather than paying attention to the lessons. But at that time his teachers did not know how to nurture his creativity so he was branded as a rebel. It wasn’t until he completed his matric level and went to Cape Town in search of a place to study art that he realised working with clay was something that he could learn and create a career out of.
The dreams keep coming and they need to come out, and when they keep coming that means I need to answer the call… I need to honour that, I need to create these objects using these markings that reflect part of my heritage.
– Andile Dyalvane
When he graduated he first worked for a local ceramics studio but felt the pull to work on his own designs, and that meant starting his own business. He teamed up with 3 other friends who had been with him at university. At the time there were initiatives to help young South Africans start their own businesses and they seized the opportunity founding Imiso. Starting a business was not without its challenges, finding money to start, making sales, and so forth. Progress was initially slow and 2 of the co-founders decided to leave and seek other opportunities. This left Andile and Zizipho Poswa, both of whom were the creatives of the group and knew nothing of the business side of things.
For the two remaining co-founders, this meant having to pick up business quickly. It wasn’t easy and after a lot of trial and error called in favour, got family and friends to help till they eventually reached a place where they could bring in staff and the business could start growing. Andile values these lessons and often receives questions from other creatives wanting to follow a creative path or start their own businesses. Recognising his responsibilities as a role model. Andile makes a point of giving back, mentoring school children and others in his local community through talks and workshops, and this has now become an important part of Imiso.
Andile has come a long way from the young boy herding cattle, but he has never forgotten his roots. Realising he had a gift drew him into finding out more about where he came from, rediscovering what practices have been lost due to colonisation and displacement. And using his creativity to return dignity back to his community.
For me its a spiritual process, its spiritual growth so whatever I do as an outlet hits me first, it has to fulfil me and my purpose and then if I have accepted that then the world will as well.
– Andile Dyalvane
We talk about:
- How his upbringing in Ngobozana a village in the Eastern Cape influenced his interest in clay
- How culture and heritage influences his design
- His thoughts on the acceptance of art as a career
- Using clay as a way of connecting with Mother Earth, with ancestry, and his heritage
- The responsibility bestowed on him by his elders of being chosen to bring back dignity to his community through his art
- The journey of setting up Imiso, and the challenges of having to develop business skills fast
- How residences have helped him grow and develop as an artist and helps with getting back to what matters
- Being a mentor to those following in his footsteps, and why having someone to look up to matters
- Developing or finding a design identity
- Dealing with self-doubt
- Knowing your purpose and accepting that not everyone will understand or like what he does and that’s ok
- Following and embracing his creativity, which fuels his spiritual growth
Basically I could not sit and not do this [work with clay] it’s like I could not sit and not breathe.
– Andile Dyalvane, Clay Healer
Links and resources mentioned in this episode
Where you can go to find out more about Imiso:
And before you go I have a favour to ask, if you could take a few minutes to do the three R’s that is: rate it, review it, and recommend it to anyone you feel would benefit. It will really make a difference and I would greatly appreciate it.