Colourful, contrasting and ever-evolving, the Creative Block collection is the result of a one-of-a-kind initiative. Each unique Creative Block artwork represents one of more than 250 participating artists; their individual stories, subject matter, and style. It’s when they’re displayed together that they create something magical – a rich and striking expression of South African culture.

The Creative Block invites established and emerging artists to submit an application for participation. This programme provides a fun platform of experimentation, with many established artists continuing to submit Creative Blocks. It is the entry point for artists who want to engage with SPIER ARTS TRUST and its ecosystem of artist career development opportunities. Both the size and the price of Creative Block artworks are set, regardless of artist tenure or medium. Each Creative Block carries the artist’s biography on the back. This allows the artists to enjoy significant exposure as these artworks are displayed around the globe, travel to art fairs and are in the collections of the public, patrons and corporate offices. Behind these logistics is a vision that is two-fold: to empower South African artists by offering them regular income and exposure, and to offer collectors access to the work of both established and emerging artists, at affordable prices.

Because the blocks are sold at a standard price, collectors have the rare opportunity of purchasing affordable works by renowned artists, as well as experimenting with emerging artists’ work. In addition, the format invites creative play from collectors, as they curate their own meaning by selecting specific works to contrast and complement each other – adding, rearranging and even exchanging blocks according to changing tastes or environments.

The GFI Art Gallery is proud to be associated with this inspiring project since 2017.


    Mellaney Roberts

    Mellany is a contemporary ceramicist who engages with the ceramic art medium to evoke the permanence and impermanence associated with time. Through her art, she explores how Coloured, as a racial identity in South Africa, is defined as a racially mixed and hybrid community.

    Born in Willowmore, a small town in the Eastern Cape, Mellany completed her National Diploma in Fine Arts (2010), BTech Fine Arts in Ceramics (2011), and Masters of Fine Art in Ceramics (2017), all at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Gqeberha. She’s currently reading towards her PhD in Fine and Studio Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology, Tshwane, where she is also a lecturer. She has been a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures competition (2012), Absa L’Atelier, 2012 and 2013 and recently the Top 20 Finalist for the Ekurhuleni Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards (2021).

    Mpho Machate

    Mpho is a visual artist who works with a variety of media. He say that his work attempts to communicate his physical expression of thought; the perception of the world around him by understanding the world inside him.

    “The idea is focused on the excellence of self-development. The impression is to know more about oneself so to know more about the person we aspire to become,” he explains.

    His motivation is that the awareness of existence is the realisation of infinite creation.

    Mpho was born in Tembisa, Gauteng and grew up in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. He currently lives and works in Johannesburg and has his studio at August House.  Machate completed his B-Tech in Fine Art at the Tshwane University of Technology (2016).

    Robyn Munnick

    Robyn Munnick works mainly at creating mixed media installations. She’s fascinated by the possibilities of the art-making processes in assisting with the process of dealing with the trauma caused by the possibility of losing a family member to terminal illness. 

    Robyn still lives and works in Gqeberha, her town of birth. In 2019 she obtained her Masters Degree in Fine Art (cum laude) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She has been a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition from 2014 through to 2019 and is head of the painting department at Rhodes University.

    She says her artworks aim to build on an exploration of various materials and modes used to underpin the objectives in what she aims at visually communicating.

    Tharien Smith

    Tharien Smith is an artist working with a variety of media, including photography, digital collage, acrylic paint and textiles. Fascinated with nature, archaeology, human anatomy, perspective and chiaroscuro (contrasting light and shadows), she loves to experiment and explore new techniques.

    In her latest bodies of work, she is interested in women, celebrating the female form and its sensuality, sexuality and complexity.

    Born in the Free State, schooled in Johannesburg and having studied and lived in Pretoria for 23 years, Tharien now lives and works in Cape Town. She obtained a National Diploma in Textiles from Tshwane University of Technology (1995) and has spent most of her career working in various creative and corporate environments designing furnishing fabrics to ceramic tiles.

    Patrick Bongoy – 2023 artist mentor

    Sculptor Patrick Bongoy is no stranger to Nando’s, as his artworks are included in our collection and displayed in Nando’s restaurants in South Africa and the UK.

    Born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1980, Patrick studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa and fled to South Africa in 2013 after he was involved in a politically provocative protest piece. Currently based in Cape Town, his work addresses issues around migration, economic exploitation and environmental degradation.

    Bongoy works predominantly with waste materials such as inner tubes from vehicle tyres, industrial packaging, hessian sacking and textiles. He cuts and weaves these together to create complex, layered sculptures and three-dimensional reliefs. His painstaking process draws on traditional basket-making skills while referencing the physical labour that defines day-to-day life in the DRC.


    Founded in 1972, Ceramics Southern Africa is the official representative body of potters in Southern Africa. The objective of the association is to promote ceramics in Southern Africa by improving the work being produced and to foster an interest in ceramics by the general public. This is done by presenting workshops and organising exhibitions regionally and nationally.

    The purpose of Ceramics Southern Africa is to maintain a representative forum for the encouragement and fostering of the art and craft of ceramics in Southern Africa. The field encompasses all relevant processes that add value to clay.

    We encourage and foster:

    • The creation of awareness of the aesthetic, artistic, cultural, and utilitarian value of ceramics.
    • The open exchange of skills and the advancement of expertise.
    • Building of cooperative relationships between the participants in the value chain of ceramics from resource production through to public distribution.
    • Development of the art and craft as a vehicle for economic empowerment and value creation.
    • Professional and ethical management of the activities to increase the economic importance of the art and craft in Southern Africa.
    • The growth of local and international interactions to ensure awareness of trends in the field.
    • The active expression of fun in all endeavors with the medium of clay.
    • Members range from leading professionals to hobbyists.