Nando’s Creative Exchange: Q&A with Ceramicist Mellaney Roberts

INTERVIEWED BY Gina Dionisio PHOTOS Supplied

Nando’s Creative Exchange (NCX) aims to recognise emerging South African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability and help them take the next steps in their careers. We spoke with Mellaney Roberts, one of the chosen local artists for the programme.

How did you get involved in art?

I received my formal training from Nelson Mandela University and obtained a master’s degree in Fine arts in 2017

How would you describe your work?

My forms can be seen as monumental sculptures, constructed forms that embody a physical, emotional, and spiritual space where individuals can feel comfort, protection, and a sense of belonging.

Can you tell us a bit about your style and artistic process?

With my chosen medium clay, I make hand-built ceramic sculptures. Through my practice, I push my medium in both the scale of my sculptures and finishing my work using alternative and unconventional ways of looking at the artworks. I also incorporate other materials such as fibre, glass, nails, and steel wool depending on the theme at the time.

Do you have a preferred medium that you like to work in?

I primarily work with clay.

Any local artist that you admire?

  • Andile dyalvane
  • zizipho poswa ceramics
  • Driaan claassen

What does being a part of the Nando’s Creative Exchange Programme mean to you?

The NCX programme is an excellent opportunity to find new inspiration in a different environment. The programme allowed me to be purpose-driven, deepening my practice and enhancing my profile in the contemporary art industry. I have grown as an artist and an individual and I am even more committed to my practice and what the future holds.  

How do you feel about mentorship and learning through an experienced industry professional?

I encourage it – mentorship plays an important role in nurturing talent and promoting growth. Experienced industry professionals understand the value of passing knowledge and insights to the next emerging artist. The importance of such a process is to provide guidance, and constructive feedback and to help the individual navigate their practice through the art industry.

Where have you been looking for inspiration for your pieces?

The body of work consists of monumental ceramic sculptures inspired by a place where I spent much of my childhood in the Baviaanskloof; a place that speaks of family, community, and belonging.

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