Ardmore is proud to be featured by WMODA in, A Safari for the Soul. A unique invitation to experience the wild and wonderful world of Ardmore Ceramic Art. Imagine yourself as an intrepid explorer riding a magnificent animal through the lush jungles and grassy savannahs of South Africa to visit the Ardmore community of ceramic artists. Our destination is KwaZulu-Natal, which means “children of heaven” in the Zulu language.
The Ardmore studio was founded 35 years ago by Fée Halsted, a young graduate ceramicist who started teaching local people how to sculpt and paint on pottery. Awards and accolades in the early years led to the expansion of her enterprise and an international market for the studio’s ceramic art, which pulsates with vitality and originality. There are now more than 80 artists earning a living through their work at Ardmore. They are known by their Zulu neighbors as the Isigweli, the fortunate ones.
Each Ardmore piece is unique, a one-of-a-kind work of art which typically involves a thrower, a sculptor, and a painter. The studio is full of talented men and women who create dynamic and diverse imagery, ranging from lyrical foliate forms inspired by Africa’s flora and fauna to intricate patterns reminiscent of Zulu beadwork and basket weaving. Over the years, sons and daughters have joined their mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles at Ardmore to create new family traditions in this remote region of South Africa. They collaborate in the spirit of Ubuntu, meaning we are because of others.
Not only has the Ardmore community been uplifted socially and economically by their ceramic art, the natural exuberance of the artists lifts the spirits of everyone who encounters their fanciful animal creations. Their whimsical sense of humor is contagious and invariably inspires joy and happiness in audiences around the world. The scope and imagination of Fée and the artists knows no bounds now that their ceramic designs are being interpreted for silk wearable art by Hermès, wall papers by Cole & Son, and fabulous fabrics for table linens and scatter cushions through their design range.
The Ardmore artists have overcome many setbacks during their journey, including devastation of their community by HIV-Aids. Many of the founding artists died, including Bonnie Ntshalintshali who “used clay as a gateway to her soul.” Thankfully Fée was able to help bring others back to health by providing ARV drugs and better nutrition to battle the virus. Now the Ardmore artists face a new pandemic with the onset of COVID-19. However their creativity could not be suppressed and the artists showed incredible passion by producing impressive masterworks as well as fun pieces that make us smile in adversity, such as their new collection of masked monkeys.
Despite the intimidating challenge that the COVID -19 Lockdown months threw at the Ardmore Artists, their passion and hope shines through.
The selling show is presented by the Pascoe Gallery, the leading distributor of Ardmore Ceramic Art in the USA. Proceeds from the sale of the Ardmore works of art will help sustain the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts, which like many museums and galleries has been severely impacted by COVID-19.
The exhibition will take place at the Weiner Museum Of Decorative Arts from November 18th to December 16th