August 30, 2013

hannelore olivier & Laura du Toit: Klei-klank (Clay-sound): The hearing of a kla’ landscape

Clay kla’
Noun: a stiff, sticky fine-grained earth, typically red, yellow or bluish-grey in color and often forming an impermeable layer in the soil. It can be molded when wet, and is dried and baked to make bricks, pottery and ceramics.
Poetic: The substance of the human body.

The hearing landscape of a ceramic artist’s creative environment is not typically heard or documented in any society. The sound of the rural people from the Transkei (South African Eastern Cape) is also not considered of any importance, although their daily task of breaking the earth for brick-making forms an integral part of their culture. Both work from the earth, using clay for survival.

Klei-klank was inspired by, and originated from, spontaneous organic sounds as byproducts in ceramic artist Laura du Toit’s studio. Human hands interacting with earth; the flow of water used in creation; the staccato pitches of heat escaping from the potter’s fired pieces – all random sounds in the transition of virgin clay to art, and mostly ignored as part of the creative process. But when listening carefully, these random sounds organise themselves eventually into rhythm, timbre, harmony – effortlessly and spontaneously creating a soundtrack for the broken earth.

Hannelore Olivier composed a soundtrack incorporating these unmethodical sounds with acoustic instruments and synthesisers. A drone-tone beat of brick-making as bass-line. The pain of a ruined and broken earth echoes in the dissonance of poli-tonal piano and organ sounds, which fight for harmonic and melodic survival.

This project consists of a sound installation with ceramic objects and soundtrack. The composer and ceramic artist will discuss the creative processes underlying the capture and creation of Klei-klank (Clay-sound).


Laura du Toit is an independent artist who has been working with clay for the past 23 years as a studio potter and also as a teacher. Her training includes a BA (University of Stellenbosch), studies in ceramics and drawing (Paarl Technikon) and a course in oil painting at the Denver Art Museum. Klei-klank (Clay-sound) in 2012, a collaborative work with composer-performer Hannelore Olivier for the Woordfees, is a culmination of the recording of landscapes, sounds and voices in a production as two soundtracks. Photography is another of her main interests, and this genre she combined with her clay work in two solo exhibitions: Element (2008) and Deep field (2010). Recent exhibitions include Women in clay and a commission for the Women’s Memorial, Bloemfontein War Museum. Her work can be found in collections at the Durbanville Clay Museum, Sasol Art Museum and Iziko Social History Museum in Cape Town. Laura favours the ancient slow processes of coiling and pinching clay. Multiple firings allow her to represent her interest in the colours, textures and geological formations found in nature, on earth and in space. Unspoilt virgin landscape has carried her to the top of many mountains and it is on these trips that she finds her inspirational reference.


Hannelore Olivier, an independent artist, has collaborated with numerous film and television producers, directors, fine artists and theatre groups during the past ten years. She works in the capacity of composer, musical director and performer, and has been a lecturer in the Sound Engineering Department at CityVarsity and at SAE in digital music production. Hannelore obtained degrees in music (University of Stellenbosch); honours in psychology (UNISA), and a masters in music technology from the University of Stellenbosch (cum laude). She is the author of Musical networks: the case for a neural network methodology in advertisement music (2005). Her creative style is diverse, and influenced by studies in Western art music, electronic music, as well as the traditional music and sounds of South-East Asia and the Oriental East. She disregards the traditional boundaries of genre, instrumental timbre and cultural restrictions in music, and aims to marry diverse sounds and instruments, mix serious music with popular styles and to fuse ‘western’ with ‘world’ and ‘electronica.’ This musical approach leads to soundscapes which are colourful, ambient and experimental.

coming soon: www.hannelore.co.za

Comments are closed.