Trayci Tompkins trained in Theatre Crafts and Performing Arts before a well-loved career in media. But it was clay that was to become her passion, when she set up her first full time pottery studio in South Africa in the mid ’90’s.A decade of successful sell-out exhibitions and solo showings followed, becoming well known for her statement hand-coiled smoke-fired urns and raku-fired vessels.
In 2003 Trayci realised a talent in her then once-a-week gardener, Tim Dlamini, and began a journey mentoring him in the art of clay sculpture, later creating a range of figurines that are collectively known as ‘The Dlamini’.
Her studio projects soon grew to employ and train others in the production of creative ceramics for the home. In 2006, together with her husband Stuart, she opened ZULU LULU ceramic studio where her designs and inspirations formed an ever-changing range of quirky tableware, hand-thrown decor items, one-off sculptural pieces alongside their ever-popular Dlamini figurines.
In 2016 ZULU LULU ceased production of the tableware ceramics, allowing Trayci to focus her attention back onto her own statement work and the expanding Gallery commitments. Today Trayci balances her time between the roles of artist|maker with her ZULU LULU ART HOUSE, where she is tasked with curating and promoting the work of other South African artists alongside her own.
In just over a decade, Trayci has grown her career as an independent ceramic artist, empowered the lives of others and contributed to the continued success of ceramic makers by establishing ZULU LULU ART HOUSE as one of the leading Ceramic Galleries in South Africa.
The Dlamini too continues to shine and in 2017 sees Trayci leading a mentorship project with a hot new local talent from her community – together with the Midlands Meander Association.
Recent Q&A interview with Trayci … read here
Inspired by art forms in nature and ancient unearthed treasures, Trayci’s sought-after hand coiled vessels and urns add a statement to any room. The random and spontaneous effects from the gas fired Raku glazes and ethereal patterning created with salt, horse hair and sawdust in the smoke fired pit – gives each piece a unique personality.
In contrast to these uncontrolled firing methods, Trayci employs a more predictable, although still challenging layering of textured patterning, colourful painting and layered glazing for her theatrical characters, oversized vases and quirky range of ‘It’s a dog’s life’ sculptural pieces. It is this ability to push clay into new directions, combined with a technical skill in hand building, glazing, firing and construction, that gives each piece a fresh and highly original energy.
“Clay allows me to express my history in theatre, passion for architecture, love of poetry and humour in the way I view the world around me..”
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