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          Xanthe Somers at GUILD Residency 2024
          Editorial
          GUILD Residency welcomes Zimbabwean ceramicist Xanthe Somers

          11 Mar 2024 (2 min) read

          Southern Guild is thrilled to welcome ceramicist Xanthe Somers to the GUILD Residency programme in March 2024.

          Somers is a contemporary ceramicist whose large-scale, vibrant works carry barbed social and political critiques. Born in 1992 in Harare, Zimbabwe, Somers studied Fine Art (Hons) at the University of Cape Town and received her MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2020. She now resides and works in London.

          The bodies of Somers’ intricate pieces are hand-coiled in the traditional way and then disrupted – their surfaces punctured, woven or adorned with meticulously shaped and painted details. She incorporates a broad range of visual elements into her work, including traditional Zimbabwean crafts such as weaving and soap stone sculpture, found objects, gold lustre glaze, sculpted flowers and identifiable brand emblems.

          Xanthe Somers
          Xanthe Somers Untitled Art 2023 with Southern Guild
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          Upon closer examination of the inscriptions on the pieces and their thought-provoking titles – such as Like Stale Bread After a Hard Day’s Work – the viewer is prompted into analytic contemplation.

          Presented collectively, Somers’ vessel-sculptures engage in a dialogue that explores “the colonial ghosts and systematic repressions still apparent in society,” she explains. She is interested in challenging prevailing heteronormative ideas associated with beauty and refinement found in everyday, functional objects. “We create utilitarian objects to serve us, but ultimately these objects tend to outlive us,” she says. “These objects are not neutral, they carry within them the ideology in which they were created, and this legacy is not silent. These objects have an active and persuasive influence in shaping our visual reality.”

          Somers is excited about returning to the Mother City: “I am thrilled to be traveling to Cape Town to do a two-month residency with the safe hands of Southern Guild,” she says. “Next year will mark 10 years since I graduated and I have not had the chance to spend much time back in Cape Town since. This will be an opportunity to reconnect with friends, make new connections, engage with other artists and work in the vibrant community that is Cape Town's art scene.”

          During her stay, Somers plans to experiment with scaling up. “In my studio in London I have quite a small kiln, so I am eager to work on a larger scale, and on a bigger, more ambitious project,” she says. “I shall continue exploring the traditions of 'women's work' such as weaving, textiles, beading, homemaking and mending all through the medium of clay and other found materials, investigating how this relates to labour practices in the Global South.”