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Squeezing in Cape Town

Sep 03 2014 12:42
Liziwe Ndalana
Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille with ceramic ar

Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille with ceramic artist Hennie Meyer while taking part in cup "squeeze". (Supplied)

Cape Town - Ukusela eKapa, brain child of ceramic artist Hennie Meyer and architect Janine de Waal, has captured the interest of people from around the world.

The pair said their goal is to produce 10 000 unique handmade iikomityi (cups) before November 2014, when people celebrate Ceramics Month.

The ikomityi (cup), a ceramic drinking vessel, will serve as a "handshake" that will connect people from around the world.

Ukusela eKapa - Slurp Kaapstad Op or Drink Cape Town In - is an official World Design Capital 2014 project (#WDC411) and aims to raise design awareness through connecting Capetonians with the imprinted "handshake" on the ikomityi with people from all over the world.

So far 4 000 Capetonians and visitors joined the initiative including Jonathan Shapiro (better known as Zapiro) and Premier Helen Zille. These "celebrity" iikomityi, referred to as "iconic squeezes" will be auctioned and proceeds will be shared between Ukusela eKapa and a charity.

To date the project has squeezed in 20 of the 26 sub councils in Cape Town, reached people from all nine provinces in the country and 41 of the 196 countries in the world.

Commented Meyer: "Ukusela eKapa falls within the theme of Connections that Unite. It’s about uniting people in Cape Town. We wanted to create a simple yet effective concept that transcends age, gender and culture and encourage tourists and locals to participate in our initiative, by making their mark and connecting with people from all walks of life within Cape Town."

The idea came to mind when they were driving from Cape Town to Durbanville, "from a meeting on last year’s World Design Capital and we were thinking, what can we do to change Cape Town thinking around the World Design Capital 2014", said Meyer.

"Then the thought, how about creating something where ordinary people from all walks of life can participate in? This is how the idea for a squeeze cup came about."

At the Ukusela eKapa squeeze event last week at the City of Cape Town offices in Cape Town, Mayor Patricia de Lille said this is a good way to expand and connect with other people because you won’t be keeping the mug, but you will be sharing it with other people.

“This is part of being the World Design Capital. I’m amazed every time when I see ideas like this come together; it just shows that we have a lot of potential to be creative."

About the squeeze, she said, "in the beginning I didn’t do it right, but in the end I did".

Every month Ukusela Ekapa is holding “squeeze” events throughout Cape Town and participation is free. Ukusela eKapa also hosts monthly squeezes at the V&A Waterfront and Rust-and-Vrede Gallery and Clay Museum in Durbanville.   

How it works

Squeezing is easy. Participants receive a soft clay vessel or ikomityi and squeeze with their hand to leave an imprint as part of the WCD 2014 legacy. They then write their name and age on the base of the ikomityi. Each person is then given a keyring as a token of participation and records their contact details in a guest book.

“Anyone can squeeze, as long as you have a bit of strength in your hand we can assist you in making an imprint of your hand into the soft clay,” said De Waal.

"Our goal is to produce 10 000 unique handmade iikomityi before November when we celebrate Ceramics Month, 'From African Earth'. We plan to host a mass public installation which will be created by renowned land artist, Strijdom van der Merwe, where all participants attending will present their key rings in exchange for an ikomityi squeezed by either a fellow Capetonian or a visitor to our beautiful city.”

The production process

Although time consuming, it is quite special. Soft clay gets put into a purpose made extruder where the clay comes out in the shape of a cylinder.

A sleeve with plastic balls is put inside the ikomityi to ensure the clay shape does not get compromised. They are then packed in crates designed by a first year architecture student from UCT and are taken to the public to be squeezed. After each squeeze event the ikomityi are fired and glazed at the studio and then stored until November where they will be used for the mass public installations.

View gallery

* Have you participated in the great Cape Town "squeeze"? Send us your pics - we'll add you to our gallery.

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