Beautiful basket set to impress in the Innibos National Craft Awards

An intricate piece of pottery is Natal Midlands resident Lois Strong’s entry into the 2020 Innibos Craft Awards.

Her studio is an old tractor shed that her husband refurbished for her when they moved to a farm near Mooi River in KwaZulu-Natal and it is in this idyllic setting that she created her entries for the competition, a range of baskets made from earthenware clay.

“The serious problem of single-use plastic pollution prompted my desire to use art to encourage people to take along their reusable bags and baskets when shopping. Art has the ability to speak to people no matter their background, language or ethnicity,” says Lois.

She says her younger adult life was occupied with bringing up children, family life and a career in primary school teaching.

“Approximately 10 years ago, I joined a pottery teaching studio where I learnt the basics of working with clay,” she says when explaining her creative journey.

“What followed were many ‘brilliant ideas’, much trial and error and frustration but also small steps of success and plenty of starting again and learning from my mistakes. Luckily, I enjoy problem-solving and finding ways to carry out my difficult and often overly ambitious ideas in my chosen medium of clay.”

Lois’s artistic style was influenced by childhood impressions of beautiful embroideries, lace-making and the floral art of her talented mother and grandmother. “Wonderful memories are imprinted on my mind: Playing in mud pools, making things with my farm friends using the clay-like soil and watching in awe as their mothers wove grass mats  and Basuto hats.”

The talented crafter has received numerous awards for her work. She has had work selected and exhibited at Ceramics SA regional and national exhibitions since 2012; has exhibited at various galleries, including Cape Town’s Castle of Good Hope and Slave Lodge, Port Elizabeth’s GFI Gallery, the Pretoria Art Museum and the KZNSA Gallery in Durban.

“I sometimes dabble in other media and was a regional finalist in the PPC Imaginarium Awards in 2018, using the medium of cement. Last year, one of my ceramic baskets was in the top 20 in the StateoftheART Gallery Award.”

Lois says the Innibos National Craft Awards gives crafters the opportunity to push creativity, meet with and be inspired by the multitude of talented and creative people in our nation and to gain exposure. “Fresh new ideas and innovation could lead to much-needed job creation in our country in the future,” she says.

The Innibos National Craft Awards

The competition is now bigger and better, following the National Department of Arts and Culture’s (DAC) support, which has seen four additional exciting new categories being created.

Run under the auspices of the Innibos National Arts Festival and organised by ArtAid Africa, the competition is open to all crafters in South Africa, across all disciplines.

The overall winner pockets R50 000, the first runner-up R20 000 and the second runner-up R15 000. In addition, the winner of each of the four new categories will win R20 000.

The new categories are Corporate Gifts, Beaded Craft Products, Craft Produced Using Recycled Materials and Souvenirs.

Entering is easy!

Crafters have until midnight on May 1, 2020, to enter. They need simply take a photo of their 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. There is no entry fee.

Ts&Cs apply and can be found on the competition’s Facebook page –

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.

The finalists should be available to attend the exhibition opening and prizegiving on June 21, 2020.

For more information, please WhatsApp Jan Bhuda on 071 621 3597 or email John Anthony Boerma at

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