Travel to Gqeberha with us to meet self-taught ceramicist Lookout Sibanda who specialises in handcrafted ceramic pottery, cutlery, décor and art.

Lookout Sibanda is well-known around the local creative scene, having showcased at renown local events like Decorex Africa and featured in various local art and design publications. His love of ceramics can be seen in his creations which showcase the beauty of African craft and art.

The Zimbabwean-born ceramic artist’s talent has been moulded by various mentors throughout his career. A journey that has led to him building his own business selling creations, inspired by his culture.

“I realised that ceramics was something that I wanted to do sometime in 2008/9 when I was in Pretoria working for Elza van Dijk. I was painting ceramics but that wasn’t interesting. It’s when I started to make my own ceramics that I started understanding it, and then when you form your own pieces painting it actually becomes a joy,” says Lookout who is now based in Port Elizabeth, Gqeberha, where he runs his own business Lookout Ceramics.

Lookout places emphasis on colour and texture in his work, as he believes colour draws you into the piece while texture locks your attention by encouraging you to pick it up and feel it.

“I would refer to my style of ceramics as unique. I use both white clay and black clay and I add more texture and colour. At the moment I prefer using black clay because it shows up the colours that I want to use as well as the textures that I like using.”

“The thing that I love about ceramics is that it’s therapeutic. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I would advise someone that wants to clear their mind to do ceramics and take a class where you can just play with clay and do anything. Just the feeling of clay alone is therapeutic.”

He manages his time between working at Pret-a-Pot a pottery store owned by Nicole Kingston and his own business based at Werk Space. A popular collective space that is shared with other artists, and also has a vibrant function venue which frequently hosts events and live music.

“It’s very important to share and celebrate African art because I believe African artists in general make and paint our surroundings… What is happening at the moment. So whatever has happened is being recorded as we go. It’s basically recording history so that whoever follows afterwards can actually look at this and say, this was actually happening in 2020, 2021, and this was what was happening in 1980. This is how we share the culture, we share the situations that are the beauty of Africa.”

When asked about his dreams for the future, Lookout responds, “My hopes and dreams for the future are expansion and to employ more people. That would be huge. My other hope is for the government to actually introduce life skills at an early age – to introduce your ceramics, your visual paintings, your woodwork. What is happening now is that you’re getting your training when you get to varsity. My concern is about the people who finished at a lower level and can’t get that. So we have to also instill that, so that when you get to matric, if you can’t go upwards, that you can actually use the skills to earn a living and start your own business, instead of trying to find employment that is not there. Also, by starting your own thing you can provide employment.”  

We admire Lookout Sibanda’s pieces that are one of a kind, along with his determination to  grow his own business and encourage other artists.