Meet Johan, the creative behind Proudly Macassar Pottery…
1. How did you get started?
In 2010, two friends started playing with clay and inviting young men in the community along to participate. These friendships grew and finally resulted in the registration of the studio as a business in 2015. We are very proud of our friendship with the community at large. It is the foundation of our work, and of other interventions we run.
Macassar Pottery upskills and employs youths who have not finished school. We create quality clay items and experiences for local and international markets. We deeply believe in the creativity of marginalised communities. Our products are the tools we use to showcase this creativity to the world.
2. Who are the owners of Proudly Macassar Pottery?
It is really important, in the aftermath of apartheid, that we not only talk the talk of community development. We need to walk it out.
For that reason, the business is majority owned by its employees, our long-term vision is to transfer ownership entirely, making the business a tool for restitution and real youth empowerment.
3. We love your vision, please share it with the rest of the world
When we receive visitors, we remind them that beauty can be found in unlikely places. Beauty is not a commodity that we can buy. It is something we create when we engage with our blind spots.
Our vision is simply to craft clay, and to allow the clay process to craft us and our friendships. And to build the kind of relationships that will bring dignity to this community. Of course, it would be wonderful to scale and grow, using our products to build social cohesion. But we are in this for the long haul. We do our best to do the right thing, one friendship at a time.
This vision is encapsulated in the #SoundOfTheGround - we make musical instruments from clay, so in a very real way we convert dirt into music. So one friendship at a time, we are changing perceptions about self, about our village, about humanity.
4. What products do you make?
We produce a broad range of crockery, including cups, plates, salad and bread plates. We also produce Coffee drippers - a one-cup ceramic coffee filtration system, and are developing other niche items for the coffee industry.
We have recently started transferring our designs onto aprons and serviettes with great results. Watch this space!
We are very proud to have been asked to make dinnerware sets for the Rockwell Hotel's new theatre restaurant two years ago. That opened the gates so to speak. More recently we have made large orders for Oryx Desert Salt and others. We design, cost and take an order to completion.
African Ocarina clay flutes - Based loosely on the ancient clay flute, the ocarina, our African Ocarina boasts various innovations. We have replaced the finger holes with a single, large hole on the side. One then finds the note by opening or closing this hole. This means the instrument is educational for children on various levels - it teaches them to conceptualise music, develops their musical hearing, works on fine motor skills and develops their breathing.
UDU drums - The UDU is an ancient West-African instrument. We use various clay bodies and firing temperatures to create a modern instrument with an ancient sound. We deliberately do not strictly follow traditional methods, or excessive moulding. Each instrument looks and sounds unique, and are functional musical instruments or décor pieces.