Ledelle Moe_south african artists_contemporary clay from south africa




b. 1971


fig. ledelle moe, findings series (2021-2023)

South African Ceramic Artists_Contemporary Clay_ART FORMES_Ledelle Moe

Ledelle Moe uses earth and concrete to explore the porousness of bodies, monuments, and belonging – in ancient, industrial and human-scale timelines. Moe mixes the earth from the locations where she might be working into the concrete to build figures, collections of heads and monumental anthropomorphic frames. Moe studied Sculpture at Technikon Natal in the early 1990s (now Durban University of Technology) and completed her Master’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996. After graduating, the artist lived in the United States for almost two decades – making and exhibiting prolifically, lecturing at various tertiary institutions, whilst thinking about land and belonging. Moe has exhibited at institutions such as the Pérez Art Museum (Miami), the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art (Washington D.C.) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (New York). In 2019, Moe had an ambitious sculptural solo exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). The artist returned to Cape Town in 2013, where she now lives with her dog, Tula.

ledelle moe



There is a bucket of concrete angels in Ledelle Moe’s Woodstock studio. More than one bucket of madonna-like figures, studded with quartz and grit from the Cederberg, half concrete, half earth. The world of the things we think we know – the seemingly solid – is memorialised in the pieces. The angels are concrete, the concrete is fog. Concrete stretched to the limits of itself, and the limits of what the artist can reach and hold together – astral parking lot, surface-of-the-moon concrete. “Concrete is this ubiquitous material,” elaborates Moe. “It is everywhere. So to take it and to push it around like clay, it refuses to be fussy. There is a conversation with its refusal to do things perfectly.”

In monuments to the collapse of monuments, and in an ongoing homage to the residues that remain, Moe works between times. Between the 700-million-year-old rocks of the Cederberg and the time it takes for the fog to evaporate from the surface of the Atlantic – between the very ancient and already-vanishing. The bridge we find between is made of concrete. And the concrete is never the same grey.The congregations of small figures and faces are like coordinates on a map and like birds in a murmuration, moving together, forever going home, not needing an endpoint. The artist describes the hand-held figures as findings. Less concerned with the precarity of shattered monuments, they are solid, and they are going to last. This is somehow, without esoteric language, a homage, more than anything. Forming the smaller congregations, Moe’s process involves digging a hole in the earth, mixing soil with concrete and water, and burying it for half a day, then digging it up and carving it with any sharp object at hand – it can be a thorn or a nail or butter knife. It is a process of getting very physically close to the actual earth, and the creatures in it, and the sediments, and the millions of years that have made them.

“At once transitory and timeless, Moe’s earth and concrete figures are materially situated in particular landscapes and timelines. The history of the soil in each hole in the ground is its own kind of clock.”

fig. ledelle moe, findings series (2021-2023)

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Clay Formes

contemporary clay from south africa

CLAY FORMES is the first of its kind: a survey of contemporary clay from South Africa. This volume, through exquisite photography and literary essays, showcases multiple generations of living South African artists, each innovating the potentialities of clay and ceramics. This publication offers enthusiasts and collectors a glimpse into the studios of thirty important South African artists and opens a window into the complexity of each body of work, revealing the richness of both contemporary clay and ceramic tradition within South African art.

Clay Formes Contemporary Clay from South Africa_Art Formes Book

This publication has sought to reflect its subject: to be as fluid as water and as weighty as earth. All this is done in the hopes of leaving behind a fresh approach to this manifold medium, and of presenting to the world the previously unexplored richness of sculptural clay in South Africa.

Dedicated to contemporary clay and ceramics from South Africa. The first publication of its kind, published by Art Formes.