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Two potters in the Port St Johns region of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa have been founder members of different visual arts producer’s cooperatives during the 1980s as part of development initiatives aimed at sustainable economic empowerment. These potters are Debora Nomathamsanqa Ntloya of Qhaka village in the Caguba area and Alice Gqa Nongebeza of Nkonxeni village in the Tombo area. They both engaged in zero electricity, using ceramics praxis and used variants of open bonfiring techniques to finish off their works. This article looks at aspects of formation and administration of such potter’s cooperatives, as well as at types of ceramics technology used and resulting works, and also at some marketing strategies and outcomes. It will be seen that these are factors that impact directly on why some such cooperatives are successful for long stretches of time, and others become defunct or dormant. Furthermore, Debora Nomathamsanqa Ntloya is now largely retired from clayworking, and Alice Gqa Nongebeza passed away in 2012, so a question arises as to whether their ceramic traditions will be continued in the years to come.
Keywords: Alice Gqa Nongebeza; ceramics praxis; Debora Nomathamsanqa Ntloya; Eastern Cape potters; gender issues; traditional pottery; visual arts cooperatives.