AZIZAMELE – The Art of Changing Lives

This past weekend I spent four hours wandering the aisles of Design Indaba in Cape Town. I love this yearly event, which embodies the heart and soul of artists in South Africa. I await with anticipation for the weekend that I can spend discovering new artists and reconnecting with old friends.

One of my favourite finds for this year was Toni Burton and Zizamele Ceramics. As I wandered down the first aisle of the jam-packed show, I was immediately drawn to the ladies in white. As I moved closer to the stand filled with shelves of hand-holding mamas, I imagined the chatter of the township ladies sitting around, working and gossiping about the daily social news. The faceless mothers smiled back at me as I heard a soft voice from behind offer her help. Toni, a petite yet dynamic woman, is the driving force behind this SMME(Small, micro and medium sized enterprise). She has trained a stable of artists who were previously unemployed and destitute. Toni was able to translate what she calls “raw skill” into talented artists who have created a better life for themselves and their families.

Township mamas

After the show, I decided to head over to Kommetjie to check out their studios. I was pleasantly surprised by the size and the brightness of the location. I had a chance to meet some of the artists who never stopped working as I toured around and bombarded them with hundreds of questions.

Vuyelwa - Artist

Their methods of creating their masterpieces are precise and well-honed. The orders were being dealt with and prepared for shipping as if we were in Santa’s workshop a week before Christmas.

I congratulate Toni for having the passion and vision to help change the lives of her artists. I applaud the amazing artists who remain committed to such beautiful work. I am in awe at the men and women who have been able to translate their passion into a sustainable business. Kudos to all of you.

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