In the second of our Meet The Artists series, we focus on Ardmore Ceramic Art’s mother hen Betty Ntshingila. Betty’s latest works will be on show at the Voyage Of Discovery exhibition at Patrick Mavros' flagship London store next month.
Betty was born in 1962 in Loskop, Emangweni, in KwaZulu-Natal. On leaving school she worked as a domestic worker on a farm in the Champagne Valley, close to the original Ardmore studio. She then built mud and daub houses near the town of Estcourt.
In 2002, Betty was introduced to Ardmore by sculptor Nhlanhla Nsundwane, as a way to support her family of six children. She began her sculpting career under Nhlanhla’s mentorship.
Betty’s skills as a female sculptor are unusual at Ardmore, yet she has found her niche and excelled in the traditionally male-dominated sculpture studio. Her caring and nurturing instincts are reflected in her work and her maternal traits are seen in her choice of subject matter: birds and bees all busy with life’s chores, building nests, laying eggs and feeding their offspring.
She is a special person and her pieces always reflect her kind and warm nature. She loves creating elephants and birds, especially owls. Her main inspiration is “imvelo”, which is Zulu for nature.
In May 2011, Betty accompanied Fée and painter Punch Shabalala to a symposium entitled Clay: The Art of Earth & Fire at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, United States, where her talent was applauded. This trip proved to be a life-changing experience for Betty.
Betty says: “I am happy to be at Ardmore. It gives me fresh ideas every day and now I have experience in my art… I went to the USA and I was inspired by what I saw there.”
She continues to produce wonderful and inspiring work for Ardmore and is looking forward to her work being exhibited when Voyages sails to London next month. View some of her work here.