Acclaimed Cape Town ceramics company, Zizamele, is set to unveil their unique Bambanani Bench at the Free World Design Centre on Thursday evening, August 42011. Zizamele Ceramics received R10000 for their winning proposal design to complete two benches to be ready for National Women's Day on August 92011.
Other notable artists, designers and architects involved in the project include Lovell Friedman, Snapp Designs, Willard Kambeva or Jullard Design, Aram Lello and Igneous Concrete.
The Bambanani Bench symbolises the spirit of unity and ubuntu. “It carries a message of hope that together women are stronger united than they are as individuals,” says Zizamele owner and founder, Toni Burton. The project is organised by Rock Girl. Rock Girl spokesperson, Michelle India Baird, concurs by stating that this initiative “shows that women are strong beings who can work together for greater education and empowerment.”
The inspiration for the design of the Bambanani Bench is modelled on Zizamele’s popular-selling Bambanani Bowl. ‘Bambanani’ means ‘friendship’ in isiXhosa The Bambanani Bowl is an African version of the Friendship Bowl, also known as the Ubuntu Bowl. The iconic image of a group of Xhosa women holding hands encircles the bowl. “The image of the women holding hands in a circle is iconic and represents women supporting women,” Burton says.
Burton adds that, “I always wanted to create a life-sized Bambanani Bowl as a public sculpture so I jumped at the chance to design a Bambanani Bench!” According to Baird, Zizamele Ceramics was chosen to create the Bambanani Bench because they “have an excellent reputation that is proudly South African by promoting South African-led and South African-driven projects.” The Bambanani Bench is not Zizamele’s only project. The ceramics company previously created a ceramic sculpture last year depicting the endangered Clanwilliam Yellowfish. The sculpture is now displayed in a lake at the http://marijkes-biodiversityblog.blogspot.com"> Greenpoint Biodiversity Garden.
“Zizamele is delighted to be included as a designer of the Rock Girl Safe Spaces campaign. It gives us an opportunity to build on the success of our Fish Sculpture in the Green Point Eco-Park with a much bigger sculptural item,” Burton says.
“By contributing to a cause specifically for the empowerment of women and girls this initiative has great meaning for us as a team,” Burton adds. “South Africans have the capacity to change their collective attitude about violence against women. Violence against women and girls affects all races and all income levels. If women in Lavender Hill are not safe then women in Constantia will not be safe either,” says Baird.
Each bench will have a sister bench located in a disadvantaged community. The Bambanani Bench will be located next to the Fan Walk in Town and its sister bench will therefore be installed at the Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha. According to Burton, “Zizamele’s design means that the girls will be sitting close to one another. Thus hopefully feeling supported and empowered by the story behind the creators of our bench.”
Zizamele’s Job Creation initiative:
Zizamele trains previously unemployed artists in the creation of ceramics. Additional training includes numeracy, literacy, life skills and business management. Zizamele Ceramics was founded as a job creation project for unemployed artists from the township of Masiphumulehle and ended up being an all-women project bar one person. The Zizamele training programme was established by the Noordhoek campus of False Bay College in Cape Town.
Fifteen artists were trained on a Craft Production Learnership in 2004 funded by the government Media, Advertising, Publishing, Printing and Packaging Sector Education and Training Authority (MAPPPSETA). A group of these artists were also chosen to participate in a Learn-and-Earn programme. “Job creation is at the heart of Zizamele's mission. We would love to see more economic independence amongst the women in our area,” Burton says.
“Zizamele Ceramics continually exceeds expectations. They have since been commissioned by Rockgirl to make 10 more benches, with five more designs, two for each bench,” says Baird According to Burton, “Hopefully one of the benches will be situated in Masiphumulele as a symbol of what can be achieved with perseverance and hard work!”
The construction process for the Bambanani Bench will consist of a metal armature and a 40cm low seat. A backrest will then be welded onto the seat. The structure will be encased in a Styrofoam ‘blank’ forming the 1.2m high (including the backrest) semi-circular bench. This will then be covered in cement and shaped.
Finally, ceramic panels made and decorated by Zizamele artists will then be attached to the backrests. According to the proposal design, the backrest of the semi-circular shaped bench will consist of four interlinked Xhosa women holding hands. The silhouettes of the woman-shaped backrest intend to create an intimate atmosphere for people sitting on the bench.
The raw materials needed to build the bench consists of steel, Styrofoam, plasticiser, (38 x 2mm) hollow metal tubes, welding rods, cement, 5 (50 x 50) flat metal bars, sealer (if bench is outdoors) and ceramic panels. Equipment needed to a construct the bench includes a welding kit, gloves, buckets, shaping tools and a Styrofoam ‘blank’ which will be outsourced for hot-wire equipment.
Zizamele received a large order from Homegoods, a United States home-ware store in July this year. Toni Burton first met the team of prospective buyers last year at Ambiente , the world’s largest annual trade show and gift fair, in Frankfurt, Germany. The large order consisted of 60 cartons of 300 handmade items. These items consist of Zizamele’s ‘Big 5’ ceramic tea-light candle holder and a ceramic bowl encircled by three ladies holding hands. Each of the items had an attached swing tag and sticky bar coded price-ticket.
Homegoods has four distribution centres in California, Indiana, Connecticut and New York. The 60-carton order then had to be replicated for the four distribution centres. This was quite a logistical arrangement as it meant that there was four times the number of invoices, packaging lists and freight labels to complete as well as customs clearance paperwork.
“Phew! Eish! To produce large orders like this one needs systems in place as well as export experience as the paperwork has been very demanding,” says Burton after the distribution for the large order was completed.
Brian Francione, a Homegoods buyer, was happy to pay $295 for the large 12-lady Bambanani Bowl of which he ordered 20. He also ordered 80 of the 6-lady bowls and 120 or the smaller 3-lady bowls. The rest of the order consisted of 80 of the Tall 2-lady candleholders in white clay as well as red. Brian has since indicated he may place another order in September. “It has been a huge learning curve for the team at Zizamele. Next time around we will have learnt from our mistakes and how to work leaner and meaner,” she says.
“I am proud to say that everyone worked incredibly hard. After all the long hours it all finally came together,” she adds enthusiastically.
Zizamele’s message for Women is that, “We are living in a time where women can really stand up and be counted. Women bring unique value to this world and for our young girls to throw away this opportunity is tragic,” Burton says.
“Our young girls need to get as good an education as is possible, this includes avoiding teenage pregnancy and valuing their bodies by practising safe sex, she adds.
Written By: Megan Diener, Media Liaison –082 909 7234,