About us


In 1986, a small group of enthusiastic potters, under the guidance of the late Doreen Hildenhagen, regularly came together learning about working with clay. This association was formalised in February 1987 as the Potters' Association of Namibia with the mission to "foster the art and craft of pottery / ceramics, to encourage the development, appreciation and recognition of this in every way possible". (See this excerpt from the PAN archives.)

P.A.N.'s first Annual Exhibition was held in May 1988 and was sponsored by the Commercial Bank of Namibia. Theme exhibitions and potters' markets became, with the Annual Exhibition, a tradition - well supported by the public - continuing proudly still today. Many well known potters from South Africa, and overseas, have visited specifically to judge the entries for the Annual Exhibitions and, more importantly, to offer participating workshops to members, thus elevating local knowledge, skills and standards. The Commercial Bank of Namibia supported the Annual Exhibition for 10 years, until 1998.

In 2000, the organisational office of the Potter's Association of Namibia (P.A.N.) relocated to Swakopmund. With the enthusiasm of a strong new committee, the Association was restructured and revitalised into what is now a respected body representing Namibian potters in all corners of the country, from Rundu to Bethanie and from Gobabis to Walvis Bay! P.A.N. is a not-for-gain organisation, run by volunteers, solely funded by a small annual membership fee, it's own fund-raising events and occasional donations.

P.A.N. has implemented many new initiatives:- most notable is the change from an annual exhibition to the biennial: "P.A.N. National Namibian Ceramics Biennale", the first of which was held in September 2002 at the National Namibian Art Gallery in Windhoek. Participating P.A.N. members exhibited fine ceramics and generous cash prizes were awarded at this event, presided over by well-known South African guest potter Hennie Meyer.

Early in 2002, in an effort to raise funds a unique event the "Painted Plate Silent Auction" was held in Swakopmund at the Hobby Horse Art Gallery and was repeated in October 2005. P.A.N. donated 10% of funds raised to the "Erongo House of Safety" orphanage, which covered the cost of a computer for their media centre. Other fund-raisers include raffling ceramic items and selling birthday calendars, aprons and t-shirts emblazoned with our logo.

In 2003 P.A.N. launched its own website on the Internet, successfully facilitating global exposure and contact with international potters and ceramists. A comprehensive video lending library, comprising specialised skills and techniques, was created especially for P.A.N. members in the outlying regions.

In 2004 the P.A.N. "Development" Fund was established which purpose is to grant aid and support in terms of pottery education, materials and skills development to disadvantaged potters especially the rural Namibian traditional potters. This Development Fund has been boosted by generous financial sponsorship from the Directorate of Arts Programme of the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture. The successful 2004 Biennale was presided over by guest potter Meshack Masuku, senior ceramics lecturer at the Port Elizabeth Technikon. 2005 saw the initiation of a P.A.N. "Supply Service" which facilitates sourcing and supplying raw materials and equipment direct to its members from South African ceramic suppliers and manufacturers.

Initiatives in 2006 included the formalisation of a P.A.N. Windhoek branch sub-committee, as well as the very successful partnership between P.A.N. with their new corporate sponsor "Bank Windhoek Arts Festival" for the 2006 Biennale.

The Potters' Association of Namibia celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2007 with exciting events, such as a "Theme Exhibition" and a week long "Clay Fest" in Windhoek.

The Future

P.A.N. has pledged assistance to the traditional Namibian potters in the north and eastern rural areas with solving their production problems, and is continuously involved in researching this matter. However with limited resources, scanty information and difficult access to these remote areas, P.A.N. requires expertise and assistance from other institutions or individuals. The age-old pottery traditions of Namibia are in danger of becoming defunct and it is vitally important that this is prevented. This historically important tradition, which is also the only income-generating practise in poverty-stricken regions, needs to be uplifted, nurtured, and protected for the generations of the future.

The Potters' Association of Namibia continues to achieve the goals it established in 1987 and strives to set new ones with the principal objective of showcasing, uplifting, encouraging and supporting all the potters of Namibia. Our important mission remains active and is not merely a statement on paper!