Innibos National Craft Awards: Venda ceramicist continues grandmother’s legacy

Acclaimed master crafter Rebecca Matibe achieved international fame for her traditional Venda pots and now grandson Dennis Makonyololo is determined to keep her legacy alive.

Although Rebecca is no longer a full-time potter, she can rest easy knowing that she has taught Dennis everything she knows and that the magic that has been passed down the generations will continue to be used to shape beautiful, timeless pots.

Making pottery is a traditional Venda craft dating back centuries. The pots are both decorative and functional. Marked with angular graphite designs and burnished with ochre, every piece is a unique work of art.

Dennis, 25, became a full-time ceramicist in 2015. He is now an accomplished craftsman in his own right and has entered a range of pots into the second National Craft Competition, which is open for entries until April 20.

Just like his grandmother before him, Dennis digs the clay he uses from the river in their village in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province.

It is his dream to teach local youngsters how to do pottery to combat unemployment and idleness.

National Craft Competition 

Anyone can enter. There is no cost. Simply take a photo of your entry – next to a matchbox for size of scale, and either email it to or send it to 071 621 3597 via MMS or WhatsApp.

Remember to include your name, the town in which you live and your contact details.

Entrants who have not heard from the organisers within 30 days of the closing date must take it as given that they did not make the shortlist for final judging. Sixty entries will be shortlisted, and these will form part of an exhibition to be held in Mbombela during the Innibos National Arts Festival from June 24 to 30, 2018.

The finalists must be available to attend the awards evening on Sunday, June 24, at which the winners will be announced.

The winner will receive R50 000, R20 000 will be awarded for the second placed entry and third place will earn R15 000. There will also be merit awards for the Best Emerging Craftsmen, along with sound financial advice to grow their business. In addition, a Craft Retail Apprenticeship with Tourvest Destination Retail will be bestowed on one of the winners.

Crafters have until April 20, 2018, to enter.

Entries in the disciplines of Ceramics, Beadwork, Wirework, Wood, Jewellery, Paper, Fabric Painting and Printing, Quilting, Leatherwork, Pewter, Glasswork, Embroidery and Mixed Media are invited.

The judges 

A panel of judges with a passion for developing South Africa’s creative talent has been convened, including: Harrie Siertsema (Delagoa Trading, collector and art patron), Wendy Goldblatt (internationally-known ceramist), Maureen Waldeck (Brand Manager for Tourvest Destination Retail’s stores and retail brands and a seasoned retailer with an exceptional eye for merchandise), Joseph Mathe (National Department of Arts and Culture: Responsible for the development of crafts), Thabo Manetsi (Director: Western and Northern Cape provinces – Leading in Heritage Development) and Fran Stewart (Craft + Design Institute’s Market Support Programme Manager).

For information, please contact Jan Bhuda on 083 719 1731 or e-mail John Anthony Boerma at  Also, please LIKE the craft competition Facebook page