After first experimenting with ceramics at a pottery class when she was ten, Mareli Esterhuizen has dabbled in the creative realm all ever since. Coming from a family boasting photographers and artists, she obtained a degree in Photography at the NMMU, specialising in fine-art photography. But it wasn’t until just last year when she was invited by a friend to join a Day Feels workshop, rediscovering her love for ceramics. Now, having gone to classes for just over four months at TAB studios in Bo-Kaap, Esterhuizen has built up an impressive initial collection of futuristic, abstract pieces that bring a refreshing sculptural approach to the craft.
It may be early days in Esterhuizen’s portfolio, but already she’s begun to understand her niche, drawing inspiration from organic shapes, and the imperfections that sometimes happens so unexpectedly in creating ceramic pieces. A great fan of master ceramicist Takuro Kuwato, she channels his love for experimentation – which is tricky when firing in someone else’s kiln – sometimes starting with an idea or a theme, but usually going with the process, enjoying the moment and letting her initial ideas morph into what they will.
‘The act of making anything out of clay is so therapeutic and it allows me to completely switch off and get absorbed in the moment. Nothing else really allows me to escape so freely into a different world and I guess it’s this process that I enjoy most.’
Mareli uses earthenware clay with underglazes and glazes, and has recently started working with black clay, with a combination of matt with glossy finishes. Having unusually started out with abstract, sculptural ceramics – echoing and marrying with her photography – she’s more recently started a range of multi purpose cups and tumblers.
‘There’s so many elements which I love! The experience where you completely get so immersed into the work that you forget where you’ve been for the last three hours. It’s one of the most therapeutic mediums I’ve ever experienced. Then there’s the excitement and anticipation of not knowing what it’s going to look like when it comes out of the kiln and also the nerves of not knowing whether it is even going to make it!’
Get hold of Mareli’s work via her Instagram (@mareliesterhuizen) and email (email@example.com), and watch this space for her new website!