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My Business Neighbourhood – Q & A with ceramic artist Madoda Fani

Wednesday, 06 September 2017   (0 Comments)
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Article written by Kit Heathcock and published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood, 27 August


A shared ceramic studio and shop at The Palms in Woodstock is where Madoda Fani creates his collectors’ items

Ceramic artist Madoda Fani's beautiful smoke-fired vessels, intricately decorated by hand, are in demand from collectors all over the world. He tells us about moving back to Cape Town, to a studio in Woodstock shared with his brother, Siyabonga Fani, after three years working in Johannesburg.


Q:  How did your business start?
A: I started to work as a ceramic painter at the Potter's Workshop in Muizenberg and worked there for about eight years. I then worked for Art in the Forest until 2013, when I decided to go to Johannesburg to start on my own business. I chose Johannesburg because the smoke-fired vessels are mostly made in KwaZulu-Natal. I wanted to meet up with other artists from KZN and learn how to do the burnishing and the smoke-firing. I was doing painting and glazes before and the materials for that are expensive and sometimes hard to get. With smoke-firing you don't need much in the way of materials; it's just the burnishing using a stone and then vegetable oil and newspaper. Even if you don't have an electric kiln you can always use a peat fire outside. The Craft and Design Institute played a big role in terms of showcasing my work both nationally and internationally, and now my work is exhibited in galleries like Southern Guild and Art in the Forest in Cape Town, and others in Joburg and Durban.


Q: Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
A: I worked for three years in Joburg until the centre I was working from was going to be demolished for renovation, so I decided to come back to Cape Town.


Q: How did you find your premises?
A: My brother, ceramicist Siyabonga Fani, was already established here at The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock, so I joined him in his studio and started to help him with his business.


Q: Why are the premises ideally suited  to your business?
A:  We make and sell from here. Siyabonga Ceramics is the shop at the front and the studio is at the back. We have easy access to a lot of things and inspiration as well. If you get stuck you can go and look at other people's work for inspiration. It's also close to the CBD for getting materials, boxes, packaging. Everything is around the corner.


Q: Who are your neighbours?

A: Riot Brewery, Final Touches and all the other shops at The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre.


Q: What are the shop rentals like in this area?
A: It's more affordable than the CBD.

Q: What is your shop footprint?
A: It's quiet during the week, and we get 10 to 15 people a day, but there's a market on the weekends, so a lot of people come in and out.


Q: Do you have any expansion plans?
A: I usually do big once-off pieces. However, I've decided to add a smaller, more affordable range. I hope to get orders large enough so that we can employ more people who need jobs and grow the business.


Q: Do you operate online as well?
A: We're active on Facebook.

Q: What's your most popular item?
A: My big smoke-fired pots

Contact Madoda Fani:
071 756 4761

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