As well as serving a functional purpose, the art of pottery is rooted in the culture of many South Africans. Working with clay is a way to express our heritage, identity and creativity. It’s also a way to stimulate healing and confidence, which is why the Light from Africa Foundation in Cape Town runs a programme of pottery lessons and clay therapy for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Did you know?

Light from Africa works with James House, Home from Home, Fikelela Children’s home, Education Beyond Borders, Bright Start, Rainbow Dreams Trust, Tenterden Place of safety, Rock Girl Foundation, Reach for a Dream and Mahni Gingi.

“I can't wait until tomorrow!” and “I don't want to go home!” are examples of children’s reactions to a holiday programme that is run by the Light from Africa Foundation. “Children also say that they love working with clay and just want to do it all day,” adds Bianca Pieper, marketing manager at the Light from Africa Foundation.

The foundation, which is supported by donations and revenue from the Art in the Forest centre in Cape Town, recognises that working with clay is fun, but also has lasting therapeutic benefits. “The children say they feel so happy and excited and amazed at what they have made,” says Pieper.

With ceramic studios in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Light from Africa helps stimulate these feelings in the hundreds of care workers and vulnerable children whom it reaches every month through its weekly pottery classes and holiday programmes. Many of the programme participants have experienced both trauma and loss. “We find that providing a safe and creative space allows the children and carers we support to feel alive, nurtured, playful, positive, confident, accepted, acknowledged, loved and cared for,” says Pieper.

The action of the hands combined with sensory perceptions stimulated by moulding clay can also lead to a profound sense of resolution, and "clay arouses deep layers of feelings, enabling expression of experiences that otherwise remain buried”.

The Light from Africa Foundation started as a job-creation project in 2004. It wasn’t until 2011 that the foundation started to take a deeper look at the healing attributes of working with clay, as well as opportunities for the artists to share their skills with the children they had been supporting. Visitors to Cape Town can contribute to the foundation by supporting their Art in the Forest centre, a commercial venture that employs 10 people and raises the funds needed for the Light from Africa Foundation to run its outreach programme.

“It is a creative, interactive and working studio. We have ongoing classes, workshops, Raku events, guest artists working in the studio, kilns firing, clay events, world-class exhibitions in our gallery and more,” says Pieper. “It’s an exciting destination to visit because there is always a lot to see and learn!”

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Light from Africa
ERF 839 Constantia Rhodes Drive, Constantia Nek, Cape Town
Tel: +27 (0)21 794 0291

Around the area

Art in the Forest is accessible from Rhodes Drive and a visit combines well with an outing to one of the Constantia wineries or the famous penguins of Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town.

What's happening

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Best buys

Art in the Forest hosts at least one fundraising auction for the Light from Africa Foundation every year. These specialised art events are supported by a wide range of talented artists and potters who regularly donate works towards their cause.