Monday, September 28, 2020

Review: Traditional pottery exhibition running at Octagon Gallery

With the combination of the elements of clay, cow dung, traditional decorations, pit firing and water, pottery remains fundamental to our crafts. As a reaction to our materialistic and technological age, the old and the new generation are developing an interest in this ancient craft. A great number of people throughout the world endeavour to become potters but there is also an increasing awareness of pottery to ordinary people who enjoy using hand-made pots. The literal definition of ?using? actually drinking or keeping water as well as making traditional beer with the pots to embrace the aesthetic response. This is reflected by the visual traditional decorated patterns and the approach by the potters at an on going exhibition of traditional potters at the Octagon gallery, National Museum Monuments and Art Gallery. The exhibition was officially opened on March 27, 2007 and will run until the April 15.

The exhibition showcases traditional pottery from different parts of the country. Mmanotshonyana Ditshekiso, Gabaratiwe Pete, and Mmapula Jonase are some of the potters who are participating in the exhibition. The attendance was disappointing for an exhibition of that kind because it showcases our preserved cultural identity.

On stepping in the Octagon gallery, one will realize that there are different styles of making traditional pots. The styles differ from region to region. The pots are original. They are of ancient type which depicts the life of Batswana before modern technology took control. There is a sense of belonging, identity and the use of nature that emphasises the traditional aesthetic of Batswana culture. The usage of local row material is significant. They are defined in different interesting shapes designed by ordinary Batswana women. The shapes are unique. Some pots could be used as flower pots, which suits today?s market. The technical achievement of the use of colour patterns with traditional motifs reflects the avant-garde style.

While taking a walk in the gallery, one will understand that the exhibition reflects the transformation of making pots through different ages that is from old timers to the dynamic world of today. The exhibition also reflects the wealth of the traditional knowledge, the artistic expression with a desire to attain personal perfection. The traditional potters showcase their craft and life philosophy in pure forms while the cultural norms dictate the making of these pots. They concentrate on the repetition of colours, perfecting techniques as well as shapes and decoration. To the potters, the making of pottery means innovation and personal self-expression. The style here is typical Tswana. The exhibition is interesting because it revives the traditional historical background of the making of pots and norms around it.

All potters who are taking part in this exhibition explore with the medium in highly conscious ways by tapping into their roots. The exhibition has more to do with potters utilizing whatever seems relevant to their styles. The styles of each potter differ from one to the other.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.