Sikho Mququ of Ckho Ceramique was born and raised in Umtata surrounded by the textured grassland and thicket of the Eastern Cape. After studying fine art in East London, Sikho moved to Cape Town and founded the 100% black-owned ceramic studio called Ckho Ceramique in Paarden Eiland where he specialises in tableware, jars, vases, and sculptures.
Heavily influenced by the natural surroundings of his childhood home, Sikho uses the versatility of clay to create unglazed, tactile pots. “I use contemporary, modernised African patterns. You can look and feel it and think ‘African’”, he says.
We asked Sikho to tell us more about his work:
How did ceramic art become part of your life?
I have memories of accompanying my sisters and my mother to the river where we collected water for our washing. While they were busy with the washing, the boys would explore the river banks. We would dig up clay, mould it into cows, dry them and make them fight to see whose cattle was the strongest! At university the feeling of the clay we used was totally different from the clay I had first experienced at the river.
Working with clay involves throwing, sculpting, painting… I love the versatility of it. It makes for the ultimate artist’s playground. When I am creating and throwing, I put my soul into the pot and when someone else appreciates it, it means that I am sharing this love and the soul I have with others in the world. I love it when it serves a purpose to people. It is very therapeutic.
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs from?
My inspiration comes from nature and its trappings. Besides playing with clay on the riverbanks, we would also play around with insects. We would catch them, examine them, and pay a lot of attention to detail. We also played amongst flowers and I was inspired by their colours. I try to translate most of it into the patterns you see on my pots.
Tell us about your signature chequered pattern.
This one holds a deep place in my heart because it is a pattern inspired by a traditional blanket called ityali. It is not only used for warmth but for traditional reasons as well. Our mothers wear the blanket when they get married and join their in-laws. One day I sat with my mother because I had questions about ityali.
It is a very special blanket. What touched me the most about what she said is that it is an item very close to a Xhosa woman because when you are far away from your family or your husband, ityali is always there to warm you, to wipe your tears when you don’t feel so well, it is always there to console and comfort you. So even if you don’t feel like sharing your thoughts with anyone it is easy to grab your ityali and wrap yourself up in it. Itayli is really the warmth of home. It is a representation of home. Women are the ones that make a house a home. So I call this ityali the ‘warmth of home’. The ityali range is one of my most regarded ranges.
What inspired you to make planters?
I met Jimmy [Symmonds of Happy by Nature] some time ago and he told me he had a shop in town and offered to sell my work. When I visited, he spoke to me about the plants. His plants are really interesting. He spoke about me making planters for them. Since I am in the process of developing my clientele this relationship makes a lot of sense to me.
Giveaway: Please see our Instagram for a fabulous giveaway which includes all one of Sikho’s pots. Happy by Nature stock Sikho’s pots.
Images: Supplied and image of spekboom in the Sikho’s pot is by Chrisél Mouton Photography