Hylton Nel is a world-renowned ceramicist whose whimsical sculptures have enchanted audiences for over fifty years. Developing his own visual language, he has innovated traditional pottery techniques in order to give form to his rich and varied ideas.
Born in Zambia in 1941, Nel started his journey with ceramics while studying for a Fine Art degree at Rhodes University. He moved to Europe, where he continued studying painting and ceramics in Antwerp, before moving to the UK and starting an antique business.
On his return to Africa at the start of the 70s, Nel settled in South Africa where he opened his own studio in Calitzdorp. Although a reclusive figure, Nel’s character is palpable within his work, which is always strongly political and often playful.
Nel’s cat sculptures draw on the spiritual and cultural significance of felines over the course of millennia. Influenced by his passion for antique ceramics and world history, he subverts the Ancient Egyptian’s worship of cats by pairing his witty aesthetic with a stoic, majestic form.
Hylton Nel still lives and works in Calitzdorp, a small town on the Western Cape of South Africa. He has exhibited his work to worldwide acclaim for over five decades.