Image & Production: Lauren Brits

Abongile Ntsane, founder of Udaka Tribe, is making waves on the local design scene with her exquisite ceramic creations that include vessels, jewellery and planters.

For our October Style & Design issue, ELLE DECO had a chat with the talented creative to find out what inspires her and how heritage has played such an important role in her work.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Went to primary school there. I later went to Grahamstown for boarding high school, Victoria Girls High School. That was my first introduction to clay before going to do my diploma in Ceramic Design at the then Port Elizabeth Technicon. My parents were very supportive of my career path on condition that I didn’t call them for money after graduating!

What or who has played a large role in shaping your life?

My parents, definitely. Also having stayed in the village for a few years has largely shaped who I am today.

Where do you draw inspiration from when creating your work?

It varies. I could be a book I’m reading, a conversation, a song I listened to… Language and words are constantly thread in. I love my continent and I love my people so Africa itself is a big inspiration.

Abongile Ntsane, founder of Udaka Tribe
Image & Production: Lauren Brits

You are quite a spiritual being, is this reflected in your work?

Yes I am and the process of making the work is spiritual in itself. Very healing and meditative process.

Why ceramics as a medium and how do you choose what ceramics you make?

There is absolutely no feeling like that of clay in your hands. It becomes what you want it to be. It has a memory. I use different techniques in my work. I choose the technique according to what I want to make at the time.

Does your heritage play an important role in your work? 

Yes it does. Lots of my concepts of making the pieces are inspired by my heritage; because of the many influences and encounters I have had while growing up, much of my work reflects my experiences.

Abongile Ntsane, founder of Udaka Tribe
Image & Production: Lauren Brits

How important is the process to you when creating each new piece?

The process is sometimes more important than the work, I would argue. One learns so much about the many aspects of life just by being open to the process teaching you. It is rather humbling actually.

What drives you as an artist?

The endless possibilities of storytelling through my work.

What first inspired you to pursue a creative career?

I really never saw myself in any other career outside the creative space.

What’s your brand philosophy?

It is found in this African proverb… “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

Follow Udaka Tribe on Instagram: @udakatribe

Get your copy of our October Style & Design issue on shelf now.