When she was asked to be part of an annual ceramics and sculpture exhibition, ceramicist Alexia Klompje thought back to her childhood for inspiration. The exhibition was titled "From African Earth; a Celebration of Ceramics", and Klompje wanted to find a way to express her understanding of Africa and the concept of celebration through her clay.
"Africa is a continent rich in the ritual of celebration," says Klompje, "and African jewellery has always been a bold way of celebrating the self. The act of adorning oneself with jewellery has, for me, always been an almost sacred ritual, a rite of passage into womanhood."
Like all of Klompje’s creations, the necklaces communicate a personal experience. Klompje remembers rummaging through her grandmother’s jewellery chest and touching the treasures she found there. From those memories she began to craft porcelain necklaces – "pieces that were worthy of an African Goddess: strong, confident and brave". Their geometric, tribal-inspired patterns speak to the urban community, the "tribes", we live in today. All her porcelain and stoneware pieces are made using traditional tools and techniques and are glazed by hand in her studio.
The collection was named Mawu, after an African creator goddess who sculpted by clay in the moonlight. The Mawu Collection is all wearable porcelain, each a strong statement piece and one-of-a-kind.
The yellow and black Graffica Collection is Klompje’s latest and boldest homeware collection featuring bright colours and striking patterns.
"I call the Graffica Collection my happy collection. I love black and white and I was feeling cheery at the time so I added in some bright yellow. This fourth collection embodies the strength and confidence of who I am."
Klompje studied architecture and worked for 10 years as a stylist, but discovered three years ago that she had a brain tumour. The operation to remove it left her partially paralysed, and the Cape-Town based creative turned to ceramics to help her heal.
"Working with clay has been so therapeutic, and it has been a beautiful way of being creative and expressing myself at the same time," she says. "To create and to live go hand-in-hand."