Passing by Lilongwe Teachers’ Training College (TTC) as one is coming from Kanengo side going to Area 25, one is greeted by a beautiful display of wildlife pottery art.
The pottery is inspired by Genesis 1 verse 26 that reads: “Then God said, let us make mankind in our own image, in our likeliness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”The artist has taken it upon himself to conserve nature through his art.
Mike Kamphale is a 35-year-old pottery artist who comes from Kasale Village, Traditional Authority Kwataine in Ntcheu, but currently lives in Mgona, Lilongwe.
In an interview, he said he has always been concerned about poaching and depletion of flora and fauna.
“I believe I can use my art to save God’s creation. I want to inspire people about the beauty of these wild animals,” said Kamphale.
The artist claimed that he started making animal pottery after God spoke to him about it.
He said: “When I was working with one of the security companies, I was praying to God to give me an artistic job. One day, God showed me a vision on how to mould using clay. It came as a revelation. Mine is a God-given talent. I have no formal or informal training.”
Kamphale said after the revelation in 2014, he started with moulding small objects such as pots, birds and vases.
“I then graduated to molding wildlife animals like lions, zebras, and camels, among others. I also do human sculptures,” he said.
Kamphale is currently training his children and others in the art so that they join him and one day continue from where he will stop when he retires.
During the interview, he appealed for financial assistance to buy equipment and recruit more workers.
“I currently hire some equipment for my work. I need my own equipment and more workers because the demand to make these pieces of art is overwhelming,” said Kamphale.
He was, however, quick to point out that business is good.
“I have to be honest. If I say business is bad I will be lying. Business is good. All these artworks have either already been paid for or produced on request,” he said, pointing at the artworks already done at his workshop.
According to Kamphale, a piece costs between K200 000 and K500 000, depending on the size.
“Some people have confided in me that my pieces are actually cheap. But, looking at our economy, I feel we are being fair to Malawians,” he argued.
“I feel like creative art is my calling. I feel the connection between art, religion and wildlife conservation,” said Kamphale adding that through his art, he believes more Malawians will learn and appreciate the beauty of wild animals.
Kamphale Porters and Animals Figures is located opposite TTC in Area 25, Lilongwe.
Kamphale is married with three children. He is a Christian who spends free time preaching the Word of God.
He dropped out of school in Form One. “I didn’t go further with education because I lost my parents. I had no one to pay school fees for me,” said the former Ntcheu Secondary School student.