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..”
Trayci Tompkins trained in Theatre Crafts and Performing Arts before a well-loved career in media. But it was clay that became her passion, when she set up her first full time pottery studio in South Africa in 1995.
A decade of successful sell-out exhibitions and solo showings followed, with Trayci becoming well known for her statement hand-coiled smoke-fired urns and Raku-fired vessels.
In 2003 Trayci realised a talent in her then part time employer, Tim Dlamini, and began a journey mentoring him in the art of clay sculpture, later creating a range of quirky ruler high figurines that are collectively known as ‘The Dlamini’. Trayci’s studio projects soon grew to employ and train others in the production of creative ceramics for the home.
In 2006, Trayci and her husband Stuart trademarked their ZULU LULU brand and opened the doors to a new production ceramic studio. Soon Trayci’s 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 2014 ZULU LULU ceased production of the tableware ceramics, allowing Trayci to focus her attention onto their vibrant ZULU LULU Art House gallery in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. As gallery curator, Trayci was tasked with curating and promoting the work of other South African artists alongside her own, as well as building ZULU LULU into a recognisable brand.
In just over 20 years, 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.
In November 2018, Trayci and Stuart sold the ZULU LULU brand and their flagship Gallery in the Midlands in order to focus time back onto Trayci’s own art and the further development of The Dlamini studio.
With her experience in retail marketing, artist promotion and brand building, Trayci writes regular Art related business blogs and articles. Follow Trayci and her journey on Instagram or connect on email.
READ: Trayci Tompkins Blog articles 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 also employs a more predictable electric firing for her artworks. Here she layers textured patterning and applies colourful slips under formulated glazes. Theatrical characters, over-sized vases and quirky range of ‘It’s a dog’s life’ sculptural pieces are all fired in this way… 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.
See Trayci’s range of work on THE GALLERY page
Follow her on Instagram.