Bona Africa carries an extensive collection of pots made by the Nala family, who through many accolades bestowed on Nesta Nala, have become world renowned. These finely crafted pieces are made in the remote part of KwaZulu-Natal, deep in the Thukela valley. At first glance, Nesta's work seems to be very similar to that of other local potters, yet closer inspection reveals remarkable innovations. Although the ware is shaped and blackened like traditional Zulu beer vessels, they differ in size, surface refinement and decoration.
The decoration on her work is said to be inspired by the motifs on iron-age pot shards shown to her by a local archeologist. She uses both incised and raised decoration on her pots displaying an artistic 'bravura' to her work. Often she uses figurative motifs (fish, shields, houses) seldom seen is Zulu ceramics. Thus the decoration on her work includes a combination of inherited and inventive motifs.
Nesta Nala began making pots at the age of twelve and was taught by her mother, Siphiwe, herself an acclaimed potter who made beer pots for local domestic use. From her mother Nesta learned how to hand coil, burnish and fire the clays which were dug in the surrounding area. Nesta has in turn passed the pot-making tradition on to her daughters, Jabu, Thembi and Zanele. Each daughter also has her own particular style and the Nala's all sign their work - a feature which is foreign to Zulu potters. This indicates how the family have equated western values of art to their works. Further, western standards of… since Nesta was invited to represent South Africa on the Cairo International Biennial for Ceramics in 1994. She also won first prize on the 1995 FNB Vita Craft Competition and National Ceramics Biennial in 1996. Her work is represented in most South African Public Collections as well as many private collections.
Currently the Nala family are producing beautiful work which is becoming increasingly sought after by local and overseas collectors. Jabu has recently visited London and New York with her work.