Abel Mohloakoana was born in Lidgetton in the KZN Midlands, and matriculated in 2017. He then enrolled in a training course at Ardmore’s neighboring creative enterprise, Caversham Press, where he learned
book binding, printing, mono typing and dry point under the tutelage of Malcom Christian. Christian recognized Abel’s talents and suggested that he join Ardmore. Following Christian’s advice, Abel joined Ardmore in 2018. Abel found his place in the design studio, where he began drawing and painting motifs for the Sabie Collection under Catherine Berning’s mentorship. Abel has also added ceramic painting to his skill set and is learning graphic design.
Abraham was born in 1997 in Lesotho, where he also grew up. He was working as a taxi conductor and construction worker in his earlier years, when Sfiso Mvelase encouraged Abraham to join Ardmore. Abraham then enrolled in the Winter School programme in 2017. He is hard working, and is aspiring to be a great in his sculpting skills. His work has already been exhibited on Ardmore shows in London, Milan, and the US.
Alex Sibanda was born in Zimbabwe in 1963. He joined the Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre in 1963, where he was involved in drawing, sculpture and mural painting. Alex moved to South Africa in 2004 to escape the strife in Zimbawe. his fellow countryman, Lovemore Sithole, invited Alex to visit Ardmore and he joined the team of sculptors in 2010 when South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup. Alex created the African Traveller series of African animals ridden by figures holding an umbrella. These riders evolved into Hippo, Elephant and Rhino riders inspired by the wood carvings sold to tourists in Zimbabwe near Beit Bridge when crossing the Limpopo River. Alex's first Hippo Riders, decorated by Jabu Nene, were purchased by the Museum of Cultures in Basel, Switzerland. In 2012 Alex's Rider series expanded into large scale sculptures and were used to raise awareness and funds for endangered species. Alex also went to represent South Africa at the Moscow Trade Show in 2013.
Ayanda was born on the 5th of September 1990 in Lidgetton. He attended Crystal Springs Primary School and Jabula Secondary School in Lidgetton and Asithuthuke School in Balgowan.
Ayanda is determined to work hard to support and be the leader of his family. He went to Ubumba for Life to further his knowledge in clay work and painting.
Ayanda started at Ardmore through the June/July Winter School programme in 2015. Currently, under the tutelage of Wiseman Ndlovu, he is showing potential as a realist painter.
Ayanda says: “I do believe that Mrs Fée is light of the life; whoever follows her will never walk in darkness.”
In 2016, the Year of the Monkey, Ayanda found his niche – painting these mischievous creatures. Known as the ‘Monkey Man’, many of his creations were admired and bought at the ‘Celebrating the Year of the Monkey’ exhibition at Charles Greig in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
Since 2016, Ayanda has continued to inspire works with his green, gold and grey pallette, and has introduced intricate, patterned border that have given his works their identifiable signature. Fee believes that Ayanda’s choice to sit next to painters of excellence, namely, Mthulisi Ncube and Wiseman Ndlovu show that their mentorship has been successful in his development.
Allan was born in 1996 in, Pietermaritzburg. He attended Eastwood School but dropped out due to an unsettled life at home. In 2010 he met Sthabiso Hadebe, a painter at Ardmore when on a visit to his aunt. Three years later, Allan decided that he wanted to pursue a career at Ardmore and asked Sthabiso to introduce him to Fée Halsted.
Allan is now recognized his stylized imagery. With the launch of Cole & Son’s Ardmore collection of wallpapers in 2017, Allan worked closely on the Acacia design. His pieces are greatly admired and have proved popular with international buyers. In 2019 Allan’s magnificent giraffe and elephant bowl, stole the show at the ‘Sabie Exhibition in Cape Town’.
Bennet Zondo was born in Lesotho. When he was old enough, he decided to go to neighbouring South Africa to seek a better life for himself, finding work as a gardener in the Champagne Valley area of KwaZulu-Natal.
In 2002 he took a clay model of a cow giving birth to show Fée Halsted at the Ardmore studio. Like most young rural Zulu and Sotho boys he had learned to model with river clay while tending to his father’s goats and cattle, and the sun-baked figurines were his toys.
Fée immediately recognised his talent and he was quickly accepted into the Ardmore family, with his pieces included in the collections sent to the Christie’s Auction in 2003 and 2004 and again in 2007.
Since then his work has been included in every major international show and is prized across the world.
Over the years, Bennet’s skill has evolved to the level of “creative genius”, says Fée.
His close observation of nature has given him an understanding of both human and animal anatomy and he has a magical ability to bring clay to life.
He expertly captures the nuances of an animal’s movements – the way baboons preen their babies for mites or scratch at an itch or warily taunt a prowling leopard.
The realist painters, Mickey Chonco and Virginia Xaba, often choose to paint his sculptures, resulting in highly collectible artworks that find their homes abroad.
In 2011 at the ‘African Travellers’ exhibition Bennet’s animal-filled makoros were inspired by Operation Noah, launched to rescue wildlife trapped by the rising waters of Lake Kariba when the dam was built in 1950.
He also produced riders alongside fellow-sculptor Alex Sibanda.
In 2012 Bennet excelled with his Endangered Riders series – in particular his wattled and crowned cranes, saddle-billed storks and secretary bird rider series.
His riders were also selected to narrate the vices and virtues of life in South Africa in a major commission called ‘The South African Formula’.
In 2013 Bennet created monkey riders for the ‘Monkeys and Magnolia’ show at Patrick Mavros in London and large crocodile riders for the ‘Just so Crocodile and other Curiosities’ show held at Charles Grieg the Jewellers in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
In 2014 Bennet worked on new subject matter, antelope, for the ‘Great Herds of Africa’ series, which featured sable and eland riders.
His red Masai elephants were created for Patrick Mavros in Nairobi, Kenya and his leopard and figurative candlesticks were selected for the Korean Biennale, ‘Africa Forms’ in Seoul, South Korea, and by the Southern Guild for the Objects Biennale in New York.
In 2015 Ardmore celebrated 30 years. Alongside sculptor, Petros Gumbi, Bennet produced a limited edition of 30 figurative sculptures of Zulu men and women (storytellers) honouring the works of Ardmore legends, Bonnie Ntshalintshali and Wonderboy Nxumalo.
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 where the original Ardmore ‘Berg studio was started by Fée Halsted in the 1980s. She then worked building 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 in the ‘Berg studio under his mentorship.
When this studio closed in 2009, Betty was devastated. The following year she moved to the studio at Caversham and rejoined her Ardmore family.
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.
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.
She 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.”
In 2012 Betty excelled with her work for ‘The Ardmore Aviary’ exhibition at the Cellars-Hohenhort in Cape Town.
Her monkey tureen with baby was one of Fée’s favourites at the ‘Monkey’s and Magnolia’ exhibition at Patrick Mavros, London.
Later that same year Betty’s bird sculptures were selected to narrate the vices and virtues of life in South Africa in a major commission called ‘The South African Formula’.
One was a weaver-bird building its nest used as a metaphor for the Delivery of Promise. The second, a crow with a jewelled ring in its beak and figures on its back, illustrated a mugging as a symbol of the problem of theft in South Africa.
In 2013, Betty’s talented son, Sibusiso, rejoined the studio and Betty continued to excel in her sculpting.
Towards the end of that year she worked closely alongside Petros Gumbi and created some wonderful wildebeest riders in preparation for the ‘Great Herds’ show in February 2014.
In the September of that year Betty’s weaver bird sculptures and carved bird teacups gained great attention at the ‘Birds of Africa’ show at Charles Greig Jewellers in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, as well as her large wattled crane tureen, painted by Wiseman Sithole (which found a home in Boston with collector Larry Singer).
Painter and Sculptor
Bongekile Ntombela was born on the 29th of November 1988, at Balgowan Farm in KwaZulu-Natal.
She attended Jabula Combined School in Lidgetton, finishing in 2007.
Bongi went on to the Durban University of Technology to do civil engineering in 2011, but left in June 2012.
While at Jabula High School, she enjoyed art classes with Gabi Nkosi from Caversham Press, and Wiseman Ndlovu from Ardmore. Through Gabi, she won an art award from Michaelhouse for painting.
Bongi joined Ardmore’s Winter School programme in June 2015.
She enjoys both painting and sculpting, but prefers painting because she like colour. She says: “I like painting genet cats, leopards and giraffes because of their unique patterns.”
Bongi says Ardmore has helped her in many ways, adding: “I am now building a house for myself, and I would like to get my driving license this year.”
Her dream is to carry on doing art, as it has helped her to become independent.
Bongi says: “I look up to Wiseman Ndlovu as he uses paint like its easy.”
Bonnie Ntshalintshali was born on Ardmore Farm in the Winterton district of KwaZulu-Natal in 1967.
She suffered from polio as a girl and because she was not strong enough for farm labouring, her mother asked Fée Halsted if she would teach her ceramics.
In 1985, she was apprenticed to Fée as a studio assistant. While learning basic ceramic techniques, Bonnie’s natural ability in both sculpture and painting was quickly recognised, and she was encouraged by Fée to pursue her own work.
In 1988 Bonnie received the Corobrik National Ceramic Award; and in 1990 she won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award jointly with Fée.
That same year, 1990, she spent a term at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, studying under Juliet Armstrong and Ian Calder.
In 1991, Standard Bank commissioned a series of original prints from its award-winning artists. Using her own sculpture as inspiration, Bonnie produced a series of original silk-screens which were shown that year at the print festival in Grahamstown.
Bonnie constructed her complex pieces by coiling or building from solid forms. Fired to 1200 degrees, the work was then richly and meticulously decorated.
Many of her sculptures drew inspiration from her mission school education. Biblical tales were retold with simplicity and candour.
A hallmark of Bonnie’s work was her narrative piling of elements or vertical storytelling. Her pieces combined a strong Zulu tradition with her own imaginative response to western imagery.
“Her narrative flows richly,” wrote Achille Bonito Oliva, Director of the Visual Arts Section of the 1993 Venice Biennale, “there are still many stories to be told.”
Bonnie’s work is represented in major collections throughout South Africa, Great Britain and America.
In 1992 she exhibited at the Seville Expo in Spain. In 1993 her work was displayed at the Venice Biennale and in Rome and Amsterdam. In 1995 she exhibited at the South African Biennale in Johannesburg. Her work is also in private collections all over the world.
To the great sadness of the Ardmore family Bonnie died of HIV-related illness in 1999.
As Ardmore’s first artist her legacy has inspired the many other artists who have followed her at Ardmore.
Elvis Bonginkosi Mkhize
‘Bonginkosi’ means worship the Lord. Elvis was born in Hammarsdale outside of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal in 1983. He now lives with his family at Mpophomeni, outside Howick.
He joined Ardmore in February 2011, and showed great promise as a painter.
He says: “I like to paint in a realistic style as I am inspired by nature – South Africa’s beautiful animals, flowers and plants.”
Says Fée Halsted: “Elvis is a very quiet and sensitive man who under the tutelage of Wiseman and Siyabonga has excelled as a painter at Ardmore.”
Elvis is one of Ardmore’s top painters, and his stella works always hold place of honor on Ardmore’s major exhibitions across the globe.
Fiko was born in Estcourt in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and in 2000, and at the age of 17, completed her education at the Sisatina School in Loskop where her mother lives.
Two years later one of Ardmore’s painters, Mbusi Mfuphi, organised for her to meet Fée Halsted.
Fiko had no schooling in art but joined Fée at Springvale Farm in Rosetta and worked alongside Angel Gabela who, with Fée, taught her to develop her natural artistic talent.
In 2004, Fée moved to the Caversham studio and Fiko faced an upheaval in her life. Her friend Angel died of HIV/Aids. As a true friend, Fiko stayed with Angel’s mother in Rosetta and helped look after Angel’s newborn baby. She commuted back and forth to Caversham carrying home pots to paint and returning with completed pieces.
Fée said: “Fiko really proved to me that she had the determination and diligence to become part of the Ardmore family. Once Angel’s baby was old enough, Fiko joined us at Caversham and now lives on the property.”
Fiko aspires to follow in the painting footsteps of Punch Shabalala, who has been with Ardmore since 1989 and is one of the studio’s leading painters.
She has participated in all of Ardmore’s exhibitions since 2004 and is one of three sisters who work together in the painting studio. The others are Mbusi and Nondumiso Mfuphi.
Gabi was born on the 29th of January 1992 in Caversham, she went to Jabula Combined School where she completed her Matric in 2011. She also went to Irene’s Models and Pizzaz modelling School.
Gabi loves all kind of arts including perfoming art, she also attended art classes where she was taught by Gabi Nkosi & Malcom Christian at Caversham Mill Press.
“I knew of Ardmore through the exhibitions we would go to with Malcom”, she joined Ardmore in 2017 and participated in winter school programme with other young artists.
Gabi is inspired by the realistic painting of Siyabonga Mabaso and she enjoys the mentorship of Bongekile Ntombela.
“I would like to say thank you to Ardmore because I have managed to build a house of my own and I take good care of my daughter”
Fee remarks that Gabi is a delightful young lady who delicate stature manifests itself in her fine linear drawing and pastel colours
Gladys Msele was born on May 20, 1966, at Emadolobheni, in KwaZulu-Natal.
She did her education at Sizathina High School, where she got her standard nine, and left at the end of 1983. Gladys is single, and has four children.
She heard about Ardmore through Beatrice Nyembe and asked Fée Halsted to teach her to be a painter.
Gladys started with Ardmore in 1993 and has been part of the studio ever since, moving from the Drakensberg studio to Caversham in 2009.
At the ‘Berg studio she painted alongside Mavis Shabalala, Thembi Zikala and Ottilia Nxumalo. Since 2009, she has worked alongside Rosemary Mazibuko and Matrina Xaba.
Gladys’s painting is bold, direct, bright and beautifully executed and composed. Her works have a great appeal to collectors and she prefers to work on a white background which brings out the clarity of her designs.
In 2014 her blue Tanzanite series of animals winged their way to Miami for Pascoe & Co.’s WMODA show in Florida
George was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1963, and trained at Mzilikazi Craft Centre. In 1986 after nishing his training, he worked as a thrower for several years producing functional items in Zimbabwe.In 2002 George headed South to seek employment as he was struggling to support his family. In Johannesberg he found work and in 2013 he joined Ardmore Ceramics as a thrower. He says, “I can make any design or shape and style. I like my work and enjoy what I am doing. I love everything that the Ardmore artists create as it has a message, especially the sculpting and painting. Combined with my throwing skills it creates very good team work. I am learning a lot about contemporary art and am now also able to make pieces with a message because of the knowledge I have from Ardmore.”Fée Halsted comments that, “George is a jovial character who is slowly enjoying a taste for sculpture and his smile is getting wider with his new-found personal achievement. George is now working as an artist, adding air and nesse to his forms and he is one of our key gures in the production. In 2013 George was chosen to design trinket boxes for Charles Greig jewelers which
Goodness Mpinga was born in 1976 in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal. She lived on a farm neighbouring Ardmore during her school years. Goodness was introduced to Ardmore by her friend Phumelele Nene 1992. Phumelele encouraged her to paint and follow her to Ardmore. The charming painting style of Goodness is distinctive, similar in many respects to naïveté of American folk art. Her pieces are densely patterned with pinks and greens, overlaid with an intense black line. Her creatures and plants are highly stylised and remind us of a fantasy world from another planet. It speaks volumes that since Goodness
joined the Ardmore team, the ceramics she has painted have been included in all major exhibitions of
Ardmore in South Africa, and internationally.
Jabu Nene discovered her passion for art while at school. In 1991, when she was 15 years old, she was introduced to the colourful world of Ardmore Ceramic Art and its founder Fée Halsted.
Her mentor was the renowned Ardmore painter, Punch Shabalala, who guided her creative spirit.
Jabu does not paint from nature but fills the petals, leaves and animals’ skin that she creates with geometric designs, zigzags, chevrons and squares in earthy tones.
Her palette features soft pinks and rich browns, and she often scratches intensely into her paint with a sharp piece of wire, creating a sgraffito effect.
She has formed an enduring collaboration with the brilliant sculptor Somandla Ntshalintshali.
Jabu’s exceptionally striking and bold pieces have earned her the position of one of Ardmore’s leading painters. Her artworks, included in the Christie’s exhibition in London in January 2004, received high acclaim. She also represented Ardmore at the Edinburgh exhibition celebrating 10 years of democracy in South Africa, in January 2004.
In 2011 she had her Lion-Leopard Hunting Urn selected for the Korean Biennale and was awarded a certificate of merit.
When Zimbabwean, Alex Sibande, joined Ardmore in 2010, Jabu teamed up with him and has for the past couple of years painted his traveller series of sculptures. Jabu’s floral decorative patterns adorn Alex’s Hippo riders and remind us of the turquoise hippo sculptures from an ancient Egyptian era. The Basel Cultural Museum bought two of her Hippo riders for their collection.
In 2013 Jabu and Somandla’s elephant vessel painted in intricate patterns was selected to be shipped to London for an interiors magazine photo shoot and the following year, 2014, a similar vessel was selected by Southern Guild to represent SA at the Art Basel Design Fair in Miami. It was sold on opening night.
In 2015 Ardmore celebrated 30 years and Jabu, together with sculptor Petros Gumbi, created a series of 30 storytelling Zulu figures honouring the work of Bonnie Ntalintshali and Wonderboy Nxumalo, in miniature.
In 2016, at the ‘Celebrating the Year of the Monkey’ exhibition Somandla and Jabu’s large rhino vessel realised the highest price ever for an Ardmore piece.
The Cole & Son wallpaper inspired by this piece was named after her.
Lovemore Sithole was born in 1962 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. His early schooling was interrupted when he joined recruits to train as a freedom fighter during the Zimbabwean War of Independence.
After the war, in 1982, he returned to Bulawayo and joined the Mzilikazi Arts and Craft Centre where he learned his ceramic skills.
Four years later, when trouble broke out between the ZANU and ZIPRA forces, Lovemore fled to South Africa. Safe in his new home country, Lovemore used his talent as a thrower to find work in Johannesburg, creating large terracotta planters for various clients.
After ten years, and nervous of growing xenophobia in the city, he moved to the calm of the rural Free State where he found part-time work producing tableware.
Artistically, however, he was unfulfilled and in 2007 he returned to Johannesburg where he heard that Ardmore needed a thrower. Inspired and hopeful, Lovemore immediately telephoned Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore, and drove to meet her for an interview.
Realising he had great skill, Fée invited him to join Ardmore as a thrower for the sculptors, who needed forms onto which they add sculptural elements.
Today, Lovemore has become Ardmore’s main thrower, and is a stable father figure and respected leader, emphasising a strict code of moral decency to the community and leading by example through his inherent trustworthiness.
His technical skills have heightened the studio’s quality and his disciplined work ethic assists with increasing productivity.
He is known for his spectacular large tureens, and also threw all of the plates for the limited edition Ardmore Design Collection dinnerware.
Lovemore, who is the general production manager at Ardmore, says: “I enjoy working with Ardmore – here I can live a better life and feed my family.”
Mama Ntombela was born on the 19th of February at Northdale Hospital in 1994. She attended Nogqaza Primary and Howick Secondary School and matriculated from Ngcedomhlophe High School in 2012. She arrived at Ardmore at the end of 2013.
She is a bright, sassy young lady and, under the mentorship of Siya Mabaso, has developed into a great painter.
Mama has, in a short time, placed herself amongst the top painters at Ardmore. Mama says, ‘I like being at Ardmore because we are treated nicely and it is where we develop our artistic skills.’
She has a bright palette and prefers to work in a realistic style. There is an X-factor to Mama that shines through into her work.
Mandla-Enkosi was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 1982. He studied at the Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre and graduated in 2002.
Before he came to Ardmore, Mandla worked at Nivek Ceramics and Into-Art in Johannesburg. He joined Ardmore in June 2012, having been introduced to Fée Halsted by Ardmore painter, Sidney Nyabeze.
Mandla is extremely talented and paints most of the Ardmore Design Collection functional ware.
Says Fée: “I have absolute faith that Mandla will be a superstar at Ardmore. He revels in his creativity.”
Mandla says: “What I really love about Ardmore is that it’s a well-known name throughout the entire world with creative artists and it has a very high standard of artwork. It also allows the artists to create their own styles and I really admire that.”
In 2012, when the Ardmore Fabrics and Book was launched at Charles Greig in Hyde Park, Mandla painted a large monkey sculpture in fabric patterns as a mascot for the ‘Grand Carnival’. It symbolises the wit and humour that we associate with Ardmore Ceramics.
Through 2013 Mandla’s painting blossomed and Fee’s predictions have come true. Today he has become one of Ardmore’s superheroes. His painting can be recognised by his use of indigenous Zimbabwean flora.
From ‘The Monkeys and Magnolia Show’ at Patrick Mavros in London, Mandla’s exquisite Gennet Cat Urns winged their way to a top New York collector where they have found pride of place in a Brooklyn home.
For the ‘Great Herds of Africa Exhibition’ in Cape Town in early 2014, Mandla painted a magnificent pair of Rhino and Leopard Urns in a similar style.
Mbusi Mfuphi was born in Estcourt and joined Ardmore’s studio in the ‘Berg in 2000, moving to Caversham when the ‘Berg studio closed down in 2009.
She was taught to paint by one of Ardmore’s leading painters, Jabu Nene.
Pretty and quietly spoken, Mbusi prefers to use delicate floral designs and colours – soft pinks and greens – that reflect her gentle femininity.
Her painting is elegant and sophisticated and is executed with pride, love and a sense of her own self-worth. She often works on Somandla Ntshalintshali’s lyrical forms.
“Mbusi is a star in the making, and is starting to become one of our more recognised painters,” says Fée Halsted.
Mbusi says: “Ardmore changed my life. In my family, no one was working. I’ve started to make my own home and my youngest brother, who followed me to Caversham, has completed his schooling because of me. My parents are proud of me, because of Ardmore.”
Mbusi is one of three sisters who work together in the painting studio: Fiko and Nondumiso Mfuphi are also artists.
She has four children.
Mickey Chonco’s smiling face and charming manner signal a cherished and joyous childhood during which he excelled both at school and on the sportfield.
He was born in 1974 and, after he matriculated, Mickey spent four years employed at a garage and a retail store before his sister, who managed the Springvale Gallery in the Champagne Valley, introduced him to Fée Halsted and Ardmore in 2000.
Although he had played with clay from the age of eight, Mickey’s passion is drawing and painting. With his extraordinary sensitivity for colour, which he uses softly, yet distinctly, his pieces are instantly recognisable.
One could describe his work as the result of an inner peace. No matter what colours he blends together in his flowers, birds and animals, the result delivers the both harmony and elegance.
While Ardmore is his future, Mickey has many other interests – a degree in computers is just one item on his agenda.
Mickey participated in an exhibition of Ardmore ceramics held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in January 2004 and his work was well represented at Christie’s in London at that time.
In 2012, after six years at the Ardmore studio in the Caversham Valley and five years at Springvale Farm, Mickey left his Ardmore family as he had found a new position in Howick, where he lived.
In the latter part of 2014, however, Mickey, missing his creativity and wanting to earn extra income, rejoined Ardmore Ceramic Art on a freelance basis, collecting bisque and painting it from home.
Ardmore is delighted to have an artist of Mickey’s ability back with the family. It is also a pleasure to see his smile and positive attitude back in the studio!
Misiwe Hadebe Ntshalintshali
Misiwe Hadebe was born at Madolobheni Place, Loskop in 1978.
She went to Madolobheni School for seven years, to Sizathina High School for two years, and then to Hlabane High School to do Standard 7 and 8.
Misiwe has two children and is not married.
She was at school with Hlengiwe Ntshalintshali, and they came together to Ardmore Studio, to look for work.
Fée Halsted put them to work cleaning trees, but after two days she offered them the opportunity to learn the art of painting from Philile Nsele. This was in 1994.
In 1997 Misiwe left Ardmore to move to Kimberley. When she fell pregnant, however, she moved back to Estcourt, where she got a job at the Estcourt Hospital as a cleaner, for a couple of months.
In 2000 Misiwe returned to Ardmore to carry on painting, and is very happy to be back again.
Misiwe is a round lady, and her physique is expressed in her circular motifs and designs.
She takes Mavis Shabalalala’s full bead and basket design and smartens it up, into a sharper clear edged design. Misiwe also adds repeat flower designs and circles into her work.
She loves bright colours and enjoys painting Tureens. Through Misiwe’s painting one is reminded of Art Deco design. Her painting is clear-cut and tight.
Mlungisi Vilakazi was born on the 8th of April 1997, at Caversham in KZN. He attended Crystal Springs and Jabula Combined School in Lidgetton and finished matric in 2015.
He was introduced to Ardmore by Wiseman & Siyabonga who live in Lidgetton. “They encouraged me greatly”.
Mlungisi is a realistic painter and is delighted at how his life has improved and he can provide for his family and his daughter who he adores
Fee says “Mlungisi has a natural talent and is a very good draftsmen and he certainly is working his way to the top”
Moshe Sello, whose uncle is Bennet Zondo (one of Ardmore’s leading sculptors) was born in 1986 in Thabatseke in Lesotho. He attended Peka High School and completed Grade 12.
Moshe came to South Africa from Lesotho in search of employment.
He had been performing odd jobs as a cement mixer on building sites; but he wanted a job where he could grow and earn more. Bennet advised him to try his hand in the clay studio at Ardmore, which he did in 2012.
Moshe learned fast from his Sotho mentors, Thabo Mbele and Bennet, and his talent shone through.
In 2014, at the ‘Great Herds of Africa’ exhibition at Patrick Mavros in London, his Springbok candlesticks were bought by the famous opera singer, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Today, Moshe has placed himself as one of Ardmore’s best artists. Moshe says: “Earning good money at Ardmore has changed my life.”
He dreams of one day being married and of owning his own home.
Mthulisi Ncube is a Matablele fom Zimbabwe, as is Fée Halsted.
He was introduced to Ardmore by school-mate, Mandla Ngwenya, and joined his friends in August 2013.
Mthulisi is a bright, well-mannered, talented young man. He completed high school in Bulawayo at Entumbane in 2000, and the following year attended Mzilikazi Art Centre.
In 2003 he worked at Nivek Africa as an artist, before heading south to seek his fortune.
He earned a living by selling his oil on canvases and in 2008 his paintings were exhibited in Utah with the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.
Mthulisi, with Mandla as his mentor and friend, has already found himself an important painting niche at Ardmore.
His first exhibition was the ‘Just So Crocodile and Other Curiosities’ exhibition at Charles Greig in Hyde Park, Johannesburg in October 2013, and from here on, his work is always exhibited at every major Ardmore show. His excellence and super-star talent makes his work stand out and always are the first to sell.
Fée Halsted was always sure Mthulisi would become one of Ardmore’s top artists as he gives a hundred percent to every work he paints.
In 2016 he travelled to Cape Town to represent Ardmore at the ‘Kalahari Cats’ exhibition.
Mbusi was born near Escourt and joined Ardmore's studio in the Berg in 2000, moving to Caversham when the Berg studio closed in 2009. She was taught to paint by Ardmore artist Jabu Nene. Pretty and quietly spoken, Mbusi's work and her preference for delicate designs and colours - soft pinks and greens - reflect her gentle femininity, and her painting is elegant and sophisticated. It is executed with pride and love and a sense of her own self-worth. She often works on the lyrical sculptures of Somandla Ntshalintshali.
She says, "Ardmore changed my life. In my family no one was working. I've started to now make my own home, and my youngest brother, who followed me to Caversham, has completed his schooling because of me. My parents are proud of me, because of Ardmore." Her sisters Fiko and Nondumiso also work at Ardmore.
Nondumiso was born near Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal in 1985 and was educated at Hlabane High School.
Her elder sister, Mbusi Mfuphi, who is a painter at Ardmore along with another sister, Fiko, introduced her to Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore Ceramic Art.
Nondumiso joined Ardmore in 2003, and she quickly developed her own technique and style, loving to work in greens and reds and filling her floral designs with patterns and colour.
Fée says: “Nondumiso’s painting of high quality decorative collectables is an important part of Ardmore’s day-to-day success, as these popular works are much sought-after and enjoyed in homes across the world.”
Nondumiso is married to Somandla Ntshalintshali, one of Ardmore’s leading sculptors and nephew of Bonnie Ntshalintshali. They have four children.
Nondumiso is grateful to Ardmore for the independence and financial security she now enjoys, and has built a home for her family.
Nonhlanhla Nxumalo Vilakazi
Nonhlanhla is the daughter of Ottilia Nxumalo, who painted for Ardmore Ceramics in the ‘Berg, and was one of Ardmore’s leading painters.
Nonhlanhla was born in 1980 in the Loskop area and attended Sisatina High School in Estcourt where no art was taught. Her mother provided what the school could not and in 2001 began to teach her to paint ceramics.
She encouraged her daughter to leave the ‘Berg and to go and work with Fée Halsted at Ardmore in Caversham.
Learning under the watchful eye of Fée and celebrated artists like Punch Shabalala and Wonderboy Nxumalo, Nonhlanhla has improved her skills and used her natural talent to produce wonderful ceramic works, while still retaining the wonderful rich colours of her mother’s palette.
Since 2004 she has participated in all major Ardmore exhibitions in London, New York, Paris, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Nonhlanhla is unmarried and has one son who lives with her mother at Mangweni in the beautiful Champagne Valley. Her dream is to give her son – who she supports alone – the best education she can and to build a house for her family.
Nozipho Primrose Ntshalintshali was born on the 14th of July, 1994. She attended Mgwayeli Primary School.
Encouraged by her mother Jabu Nene, Nozipho came to work at Ardmore. Jabu Nene is one of Ardmore’s best painters and her daughter is showing signs of becoming another superstar with a flair for design and pattern.
Nozipho says that as a young girl, she used to sit next to her mother and watch her paint, which was the beginning of her following in her mother’s footsteps.
Nozipho adds: “I told my mother that I would love to be able to fulfil my dream of being an artist by working at Ardmore and educating my son.”
Fée Halsted says: “It is a pleasure to work with Nozipho and lovely to see the next generation joining Ardmore. Her loving care and fine detail make her work treasured jewels.”
Octavia is a happy, pretty woman.
She was born in 1972 at Loskop, KwaZulu-Natal, and after attending primary school and working on a farm as a temporary labourer for a short while, she heard about the Ardmore Ceramic Art studio through Agnes Ndlovu, step-mother to the legendary Bonnie Ntshalintshali.
In 1993, at the age of 21, Octavia joined Fee Halsted’s team of artists as a painter. After only one month she discovered a love of clay and realised she would prefer to do coiling and sculpting.
Octavia creates coiled bowls, dishes, jugs and vases with a great deal of care and skill. Like her, her work is robust.
Octavia’s work has been exhibited in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town as well as overseas in Germany, London and the United States.
She has found a home for herself and her three children at Ardmore and, as the sole breadwinner of her family – and with the aid of the Ardmore Excellence Fund – is able to give her children a future with hope.
Ardmore gives her the opportunity to enjoy the creative work she does so well.
Since 2009 Octavia and Betty Ntshingila have been the only two women working in the clay making studio. Octavia is renowned for her beautiful pumpkin shaped forms that become teapots and urns.
Pitso Mohlakoana was born on the 1st of January 1986 in Lesotho. He attended Hlabanb High School in Estcourt until grade 8.
Before he joined Ardmore, he worked at NCT in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Pitso’s brother, Bennet Zondo, who is one of Ardmore’s top sculptors, introduced him to Ardmore in 2013.
Pitso is known for his diminutive, sculptural ability and fine craftsmanship. His animal angels are very popular as well as his work on jewellery boxes and small gift items.
Pomotso Mafura was born on the 4th of October 1994 in Thaba Tseka in Lesotho. He has five brothers and three sisters.
Pomotso heard about Ardmore through his friend, Tebogo Ndlovu.
He joined the Winter School in June 2016 and enjoyed hearing Fee’s stories about how Ardmore started and learning how to paint and sculpt.
Inspired by Josephine Ghesa’s mythological figures, he has excelled at sculpting unusual ceramics for Ardmore.
A highlight of his career to-date was having his pieces on show, and sold, at Ardmore’s ‘Toggies and Taggies’ exhibition at the Ebony Gallery in Franschoek. Two of these ceramic sculptures were also purchased by the William Humphries Museum in Kimberley in 2017.
Fee Halsted says of Pomotoso: “He is a young artist with a real work ethic and an excitement for clay. I know he has a bright future as a sculptor.”
In 2017, Pomotso has placed himself amongst Ardmore’s very best artists, and his work has become highly collectable.
Punch was born in 1969 in the Champagne Valley of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg.
She had the good fortune, when she was still a child, to be befriended by her cousin, Bonnie Ntshalintshali, the legendary first artist at Ardmore.
Punch’s intense love of drawing and painting found expression during her school years, and as she lived with her parents on the Ardmore farm, she was exposed to the creative work of many of her friends and family.
She joined Fée Halsted and Ardmore Ceramic Art at the age of 20. Inspired by her colleagues, Punch soon developed her own special style, expertly blending flowers, insects, birds and animals into an exotic tapestry of colour and intricate patterning, influenced by Zulu beadwork and KwaZulu-Natal’s Eastern heritage.
Punch’s imaginative skill and attention to detail have brought joy to collectors worldwide. Her diligence and talent ensure that her ceramics are always included in overseas exhibitions and she has become the most prolific winner of Ardmore’s Triple A award for excellence.
Her strength of character and determination have enabled her to overcome daunting challenges in her life and she shares this strength and energy with others, leading by example. She is Ardmore’s most respected and beloved artist.
In 1998 Punch accompanied Fée and Bonnie Ntshalintshali to three German cities where exhibitions of Ardmore were organised by the South African High Commissioner.
In 2011 she travelled to the United States as guest artist at an exhibition of Ardmore work at a symposium held at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.
Qiniso was born in December 1990 at Mpophomeni near Howick, and joined Ardmore in November 2010 as a sculptor.
He says: “I like playing with clay, making different designs, especially trays, platters and square bowls. I like to create any animals that fit with the particular design or shape I have made.”
Fee Halsted says: “Qiniso has great flair at hand-building and is truly inventive. His hexagonal dishes and bowls are his personal signature as they are so distinctive.”
At the ‘Just So Crocodiles and Other Curiosities Exhibition’ in 2013 at Hyde Park, organised by Charles Greig Jewellers, he made his mark with an exquisite Leopard Tureen that was the main attraction at the show. It reminded one of a baroque clock, mantle-piece in shape.
He also excelled himself with an incredible Warthog Tureen that found a home with a big collector in the United States after it was exhibited at ‘The Great Herds of Africa’ exhibition in Cape Town in 2014.
Quiniso took a break from Ardmore in the winter of 2014 to work as a TLB and taxi driver operator but returned in the November of the same year.
His large elephant platter, painted by Nondumiso Mfuphi, was selected for the Korean Biennale at the end of 2014.
Rosemary Mazibuko was born in 1968, at Kwavala Loskop. She did Standard 6 for her education, and then left school.
Rosemary is single and has four children. She is a tall, retiring and shy woman. Rosemary, whose father was a building draughtsman and designer, started with Ardmore Ceramics in 1996.
She approached the studio looking for employment, and Fée Halsted started her as a painter. She works with painters, Zinhle, Jabu and Winnie Nene.
Rosemary’s works have been exhibited at many international shows and she is respected and valuable artist in the Ardmore team.
In 2013 Rosemary painted some wonderful crocodiles for the ‘Just so Crocodile and other Curiosities’ exhibition at Charles Greig Jewellers in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
Sbu Mbatha was born on the 23th of August 1995 in Swayimane, Pietermaritzburg.
He attended Jabula High School, and after school came straight to Ardmore, where resident artist, Siyabonga Mbaso, encouraged him to join the Winter School programme in June 2016.
Sbu learned many different things at the Winter School from Fee Halsted and Wiseman Ndlovu, including Egyptian art, how to paint and sculpt, and Zulu culture.
Sbu aspires to paint like fellow Ardmore artist, Mandla Ngwenya, whose signature style is very different to anyone else. He too would like to be able to achieve this.
“Ardmore has played a big role in my life and has provided me with a job,” he says. “Being here has helped me improve my art and that is my main target.”
Sbu Mbatha was born on 14th August 1996. A resident of the KwaThaza township, he attended Thuthukani Primary School and Mconjwana High School, where he matriculated.
A realist painter, whose work is inspired by Elvis, Sbu first heard about Ardmore through his uncle who was helping to build a new structure at the studio. He later joined the annual Winter School.
“I enjoy painting and I love Ardmore art,” says Sbu. “I want to be part of Ardmore’s history. Thank you Fee for everything.”
Sfiso was born in 1980 with a twinkle in his eyes and, despite the difficulties of growing up in KwaZulu-Natal at that time and the poverty he experienced when his father deserted the family, he never lost his sense of fun.
He showed his talent and enjoyment of sculpting at a very early age, sitting on a river bank when his family could not initially afford to send him to school.
But after grade seven this creative young man had no alternative but to support his mother and three siblings with the paltry earnings from his employment as a gardener.
Raphael Njoko, whose family also lived in the Bergville district, introduced Sfiso to Ardmore and to Fée Halsted in 2002 when he was 22 years old.
Fée’s ability to teach and to give space for individual creativity has resulted in Sfiso losing none of the delightful humour and fun of his creative mind.
At first glance, it is almost impossible not to smile at his erotic animal sculptures, but on closer inspection one discovers that embodied in his charming figures there is often satire or a subtle message of significance.
In 2003 Sfiso initiated a body of educational work that deals with a satirical view of HIV/Aids, something which had come to a standstill because of taboos and fears. These works were exhibited at International Aids day in 2009 at the Tatham Art Gallery.
In 2011 his works travelled to the ARS 11 exhibition at Kiasma Helsinki in Finland and his major HIV sculptures were also part of the HIV Human Tragedy collection, selected for the solo exhibit in at the Istanbul Biennale. In 2013 the same works were exhibited at the Gerisch Museum in Hamburg, Germany and in 2014 at the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid, Spain.
In February 2014 Sfiso’s large wall mural featuring fragments of the wings and heads of Bearded Vultures illustrated the fragility of this magnificent bird’s existence. It was shown at the Southern Guild exhibition in Cape Town.
In October of the same year his Pangolin teapot was selected for the Korean Biennale, African Forms.
And in 2015, Sfiso created two works to commemorate Ardmore’s history as part of the studio’s 30th anniversary celebrations.
In 2017, Sfiso’s exquisite Dancing Elephant sculpture sold at Art Basel, Miami.
Painter and Sculptor
Siyabonga Mabaso was born in 1985 in the KZN Midlands town of Mooi River and completed his education in 2006.
Having studied art while at school, he had an impressive portfolio of drawings and paintings when he met Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore Ceramic Art. Fée was impressed by his talent and describes Siyabonga as “a true artist and super talented”.
He joined Ardmore as a painter in 2007 and within weeks his work was included in the ‘Cats of the World’ exhibition at Charles Greig Jewellers in Johannesburg and at the Groote Schuur exhibition in Cape Town in 2008.
His fabulous Leopard Urn was purchased by then first-lady, Zanele Mbeki, who is a great fan of his work.
Siya is enthusiastic, energetic and a fast artist who closely observes nature and paints realistically, expertly capturing nuances of light and tone and the subtleties of feathers and fur.
He brings exotic elegance, sophisticated natural realism and fine detail to his pieces, often incorporating a black background, reminiscent of French painter Henri Rousseau.
He is versatile enough to excel both as a painter and sculptor and enjoys working alongside painter, Wiseman Ndlovu.
He also loves helping and teaching others and is a true entrepreneur, selling and exhibiting paintings on canvas that he paints in his spare time.
In 2015 Siya excelled with several brilliant pieces for the Ardmore masterworks collection and in 2016 created a number of exquisite works for the ‘Great Zambezi’ exhibition, which celebrated Ardmore’s collaboration with Hermès.
Slindile was born on the 20th of June 1992. She attended Mountain View Primary School, Meadowsweet Combined School, Hlabane High School and Innovatus FET College.
Slindile came to Ardmore on the 15th of April, 2015. Her mother, Winnie Nene is a painter at Ardmore. Winnie is a cousin of Jabu and Zinhle Nene who are stella Ardmore painters of design.
After college and unable to find employment, Slindiwe was encouraged by her aunts, Jabu and Zinhle to come to Ardmore in 2015.
She attended Ardmore’s first Winter School in June/July 2015 and has continued painting under the mentorship of her aunts.
Slindiwe says that she chose to come to Ardmore at a particularly difficult stage in her family’s life, ‘to put bread on the table’. Slindiwe and her older sister are now supporting their family.
Slindiwe likes that hard work is rewarded at Ardmore and that she can keep her mind busy. Her goal is to keep on improving her painting skills to further her artistic talent.
Slindiwe has really grown at Ardmore and the Nene family have shown their great family talent.
Somandla Ntshalintshali was born on 13 September 1980 at Ardmore Farm in the Champagne Valley, KwaZulu-Natal, where he attended Mountain View Primary School.
Somandla was working as a gardener at Ardmore when Moses Nqubuka offered him the opportunity to sculpt in the studio. He leaped at the chance and started at Ardmore in 2003.
He comes from a creative family and is related to Bonnie Ntshalintshali, the first Ardmore artist.
He says: “When I was cutting the grass and working in the garden, I used to go into the studio during lunch time and play with the clay. When I was playing with the clay, Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore, came and she commended my pieces. Then I knew that I could do it. I felt the power to carry on and I felt happy.”
Somandla is a brilliant sculptor and very concerned with form. He chooses to sculpt animals with a natural lyrical grace: elephants with their long trunks, giraffes and cranes with their long necks. Even crocodiles, lizards, chameleons and porcupines are curled into bowls and vessels with a swirl of movement and grace.
In 2011 a baboon platter modelled by Somandla was presented to the Empress of Japan by Max Sisulu, Speaker of the South African National Assembly, and the same year his Leopard and Lion Hunt Urn was selected to represent South Africa at the Korean Biennale, where he won a merit award with painter Jabu Nene.
In 2014 one of Somandla’s large elephant vases was chosen for a photographic shoot for a decorating magazine in London and the year after a similar elephant vessel was selected by Southern Guild to represent South Africa at Art Basel, Miami. It was sold at the opening night.
In 2015 Somandla created pieces for Ardmore’s 30th anniversary Masterworks collection.
Sthabiso was born in 1986 at Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal. After finishing school, he found work as a gardener.
His neighbours in the area, Ardmore sculptors, Petros Gumbi and Sabelo Khoza, introduced him to Ardmore Ceramic Art.
He started working in the Ardmore sculpture studio in 2008, but, after being mentored by Ardmore’s leading artists, Punch Shabalala and Siya Mabaso, Sthabiso decided that he would prefer to paint.
He has developed a distinctive style, using subtle colours and his own signature wild dog patterning.
His talent and innovative and sophisticated colour experimentation earned him his first major break: he was entrusted with painting Petros Gumbi’s sculptural tableau for the Grimaldi wedding in 2011.
This young artist with a brilliant smile is a rising star and someone who Ardmore founder Fée Halsted says “has brought something of his own to Ardmore and is someone to watch for the future”.
He dreams of being a fashion designer one day, translating his originality, gift for patterns and soft tonality into clothing. After his parents have passed away, Stabiso, who is responsible and generous, looks after his siblings.
Sidney Nyabeze was born in Harare, Zimbabwe on May 18, 1969. His father is a Unitarian Evangelist while his mother worked on a farm and took care of her eight children. In early 2011, Sidney moved to Ardmore Ceramic Art.
“I am stimulated by the variety and quality of the work being produced at Ardmore. I am very appreciative of the professional, individual guidance I receive from Fée Halsted” states Sidney.
In his spare time, Sydney paints his canvases and has enjoyed worldwide sales. Some of his paintings have been exhibited at the Harare National Gallery in Zimbabwe. In the second half of 2011, he was chosen to paint wooden bowls on the theme of ‘stewardship’ for the Oware/Aware exhibition at Kirstenbosch (a project of “Art Works for Change” ) featuring artists from six South African art collectives.
Fée Halsted mentions, “Sidney has incredible drawing skills and his portraits of his fellow artists at Ardmore are on permanent display in the Bonnie Ntshalintshali Museum at Caversham. Sidney is always adabtable and I thoroughly enjoy working on new projects with him and he is always ready for a new challenge.”See artworks
Tebogo was born on the 19th of December 1989 in Lesotho. He grew up in the Mokhotlong district and attended school at Sekonyela High. He is married with two children.
After his mother died, he left school to find work in KwaZulu-Natal and soon heard about Ardmore.
Fée Halsted says that Teboho is super talented and adds the skill and care to marry art with craftsmanship.
His magnificent, hand-coiled, organic shaped bowls have rhythm and balance, and he has quickly climbed the rung of the ladder to be amongst Ardmore’s best.
He has also found international acclaim. In 2015, Ardmore’s special artists were assigned to create 30 masterworks to commemorate 30 years of the ceramics studio.
Teboho created a large parrot bowl, masterwork number 10, which was immediately sold at the Charles Greig ‘Parrots and Pomegranates’ exhibition at Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
He also created a dramatic, storytelling piece that depicts the ‘chase’ between a leopard, monkey and a hoopoe, masterwork number 16, which found a home with another devoted Ardmore collector. Since then, Teboho has continued to create numerous, outstanding masterworks for every exhibition.
Teboho says his life has changed, and he is ‘now healthy because of Ardmore’, adding: “I would like to thank God with the talent that he has given me, also I hope God blesses Ardmore, together with its members and workers, and its customers for buying its work.”
Thabiso Mohlakoana was born on the 24th of January 1991 in Lesotho.
Thabiso’s brother, Thabo Mbele introduced him to the Ardmore family. He says that he would play with clay after watching his brother sculpt.
Thabiso came to Ardmore in 2015 and started sculpting small animals for eggcups and jewellery boxes.
Thabiso has found his niche at Ardmore, and is right up there, creating larger works with the top sculptors. Thabiso and Moshe Sello follow in the footsteps of fellow Sotho sculptors, Thabo Mbhele and Bennet Zondo.
Thabo was born in 1984 in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
Educated until Grade 5, he travelled to South Africa and found work building houses in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
Thabo heard about Ardmore Ceramic Art while visiting his cousin, Bennet Zondo, who is a leading sculptor at the studio.
Bennet took Thabo under his wing and taught him to sculpt with clay, and in 2007, Thabo joined Ardmore’s studio in the ‘Berg before moving to the Caversham studio in 2009.
“Thabo is beginning to blossom and develop confidence in his artistic ability after dwelling in the shadow of his mentor Bennet,” says Ardmore founder Fée Halsted.
“He deserves to be recognised as one of our leading sculptors because he is always inventing new forms and creating fresh ideas for decorative collectables. Thabo has the incredible ability to model excellence at speed and is one of the most successful artists at Ardmore.”
This prolific artist is amiable and very appreciative of the success, artistic freedom and the financial security he has attained through his creativity at Ardmore.
His pieces often feature his favourite animal, the leopard, and his realistic rendering brings his animals to life.
His magnificent urns, bowls and tureens hardly stay on the shelves in any gallery and find homes abroad and in major collections.
In 2014 his sable teapot was selected for the Korean Biennale; and in 2015 he created pieces for the 30 year Masterworks collection.
In 2016 Thabo excelled with work for the Great Zambezi exhibition in London.
Thobani was born on the 19th of May 1995 in Balgowan. He attended Bruntville Primary School in Mooi River and Jabula Combined School where he matriculated in 2016.
He came to know of Ardmore though Siyabonga Mabaso and was fascinated at the magic Siyabonga created through painting. Whilst he was still a school boy, he made sure He was at Ardmore on his first day of the holiday to try his hand at painting and earn a little pocket money. Once he had finished his schooling Thobani eagerly joined the painting studio and he is grateful for the mentorship of Siyabonga Mabaso and Mama Ntombela.
“Thank you, Ardmore for fulfilling my dream to be an artist and to earn a living through my creativity. Thank you, Fee and thank you Ardmore”.
Fee says that she is encouraged that Thobani’s ambition and determination will get him to the top.
Thulani was born on the 4th of April, 1987 at kwaHaza. He attended Asithuthuke School in Balgowan and finished in 2006.
He also attended Ubumba for Life where he did both practical and theory classes in clay in 2013 and 2014.
He lives with his relatives as both his parents have passed away.
Unable to find work, Thulani, encouraged by his brother, Qiniso, joined Ardmore Ceramics in 2014. Fée was enthralled by his natural sculpting talent.
For the ‘Parrots and Pomegranates’ exhibition at Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg, Thulani made his debut with fun, green parrot sculptures inspired by Chinese green-glazed pottery parrots.
He has since created charming Meerkat figures for the ‘Kalahari Cats’ exhibition and really excels at making candlesticks and unique vases.
Thulani is looking forward to his future at Ardmore, being inspired by his fellow artists and coming up with his own creative ideas.
Victor was born on the 21st January 1990 in Dundee, He went to Enyanyeni Combined School where he matriculated in 2009, after that he went to Majuba College he studied Agriculture for 2 Years.
He has always have had a passion for art since he was young. Mr & Mrs Froneman’s farmers from Dundee recognising Victors artistic talent requested that he try his hand at Ardmore and he was accepted with open arms. Since he joined in February 2018 Victor has taken to clay like a duck to water.
Victors life has changed around and he can now support his family and two sons
Fee is astounded by Victors willingness to move far away from his home in Dundee and follow his passion, “he always has his own ideas and does not follow the lead of other and this is a sign of a true artist”
Virginia Xaba was born at Winterton, KwaZulu Natal in 1975. One day, walking home from school she met Fée Halsted-Berning who offered to shows Virginia the studio and the creative work of the Ardmore artists. The result was that, at the age of 17, Bonnie Ntshalintshali started teaching Virginia how to sculpt and paint. It did not take her long to discover her talent in painting.
Virginia's exceptional drawing can be seen in her animals and plants. Her colours are subtly and painstakingly worked and every detail of feathers, scales and animal skin is patiently created. Her favourite animal is leopard, to which she brings a lot of depth and movement through delicate shading. Virginia is a true painter: she paints realistically and her dishes and bowls are canvases.
She loves the creativity of her work at Ardmore and says: I always wish to see my work improving and I wish myself a better life." Her work has attracted the attention of serious Ardmore collectors and since 1992, has been exhibited in South Africa and overseas including at Christies London.
Virginia has brought her husband Roux to paint and they both are now working at Ardmore in Caversham with Fée.
Wiseman was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1986. He developed his art skills at the Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre from 2005-2007. Wiseman was privately tutored by Newman Ndlovu, from whom he learned his trademark watercolours. He worked at Nnino Ceramics in Thorngroove, Bulawayo in 2009, where he had the opportunity to paint portraits of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. His watercolour paintings have attracted a worldwide audience in Israel, America, Great Britain, Switzerland, and South Africa.
Wiseman moved to South Africa for better economic opportunities. He joined the Ardmore family in 2019. Wiseman’s work was showcased at the Sabie Exhibition in The Cellars, Cape Town 2019. He also painted the exquisite ‘Barrow of Booze’ sculpture fashioned by Bennet Zondo, part of Ardmore’s 2020 online exhibition ‘And the World Came Together, as the People Stayed Apart’.
Wiseman was born in 1983 and grew up in Lidgetton in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. He attended the Jabula Combined School where he achieved his Matric in 2002.
Art was the dream he followed and he first attended courses at the Caversham Press, across the river from Ardmore’s Caversham studio. Within a few years he had sold a number of prints and watercolour paintings.
In 2005, Wiseman met Rosemary Sithole, who showed his portfolio to Fée Halsted. It was the break he had been looking for. With his beautiful artistic talent and his attention to detail, Wiseman achieved his ambition of becoming one of Ardmore’s leading artists two years later.
In 2007, he was Ardmore’s top-selling artist at the Christie’s London auction and at the ‘Great Cats of the World’ exhibition at Charles Greig in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
His heron urn was prepared as the centre-piece for the Ardmore Groote Schuur exhibition in Cape Town in February 2008. He was specifically selected to attend this Ardmore exhibition because of his excellence. It was a triumph of sophisticated natural realism.
Wiseman also has a beautiful singing voice and heads the Jabula Home Boys’ Choir.
In 2012, Wiseman left Ardmore and took up a new position in art eductaion. He continued to visit the Ardmore family in his off time and to paint work from home.
Wiseman’s love of painting is always reflected in every work that he returns to the Ardmore studio for the final glazing firing. His painting is of exceptional quality and he guarantees sculptors a work of excellence!
In 2015, Wiseman assisted with the first Winter School Programme at Ardmore, teaching 22 new recruits alongside Fée Halsted. He has subsequently returned to Ardmore as a full-time painter and helps Fée with quality control, painters’ critiques and our Winter School program that is run in June each year.
Since 2015, Wiseman has consistently created masterworks for all our Ardmore exhibitions, locally and internationally. His pieces are highly prized collectables.
In 2015, Wiseman had the opportunity to represent and run Ardmore workshops at the WMODA Museum, Miami, Florida.
Legendary Artist and Painter
Wonderboy Nxumalo was born in Greytown in 1975. During his school years in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, he discovered his creative talent and spent all his free time drawing, painting, writing poetry (at which he excelled) and reading comics, which he loved.
In 1994, at the age of 20, this gentle, soft-spoken man joined Ardmore and Fèe Halsted, who encouraged him to incorporate his poetry, anecdotes and personal truths into his designs. What emerged was Wonderboy’s instantly recognisable style.
Wonderboy often worked in monochrome, or limited the range of his colours, using a scratched, scrafitto technique.
His works include a collection of commemorative plates and platters depicting the Anglo-Zulu War, while his ‘monkey message’ plates and cups warn and educate his audience on the Aids pandemic.
Wonderboy was both selfless and industrious, always finding the time to share his knowledge with other artists and to show his and other artist’s pieces to the public.
His very special creations are today found in galleries worldwide. He travelled to Wales to participate in the International Ceramics Festival and also to London to represent Ardmore at the Christie’s exhibition and auction in January 2004.
To the great sorrow of the Ardmore family Wonderboy died in 2008, but his AIDS works continue to travel the world. He tells the story of his life with HIV/AIDS through the metaphor of the monkey.
His work has continued to gain international acclaim and was exhibited at the Istanbul Biennale in 2011. They also travelled to the Gerisch Museum in Hamburg, Germany in 2013 and to the Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid, Spain in 2014.
Wonderboy’s designs also live on in Ardmore’s new fabrics. Proceeds from the sale of this iconic South African design – with its important message of love in the face of HIV/AIDS – go to his mother and to Kazimula, the local AIDS orphanage.
In 2015, Ardmore celebrated 30 years and Petros Gumbi created ‘storytellers’ figurines. Masterwork number six features Zulu warriors holding replicas of Wonderboy’s Anglo-Zulu War plates, beautifully painted by Siyabonga Mbaso.
These 30 year works pay tribute to artists who have played a major part of Ardmore’s journey.
Zinhle is an attractive, modern, very together, young woman.
She followed her talented older sister, Jabu Nene, to Ardmore and, since then, has developed into a brilliant painter – but her ambition does not end there.
In 2005 she completed two years of study at business school in Newcastle, during which time she worked weekends to keep up her output of ceramics.
Zinhle likes to paint with watercolour like effect and her palette preferences are greens and blacks.
She is well-known for her crocodile and zebra themed works to which she gives great attention to detail by stippling, sponging, scaling and feathering with her brush and scraffito needle. As a result, her work sells so fast that there is seldom any on display in the Ardmore gallery.
Somandla Ntshalintshali’s vessels and Alex Sibande’s sculptures are often painted by Zinhle and her sister, Jabu.
Zinhle excelled with her work on the crocodile riders for the ‘Just So Crocodiles and other Curiosities’ exhibition at Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg in 2013 and in 2014 when she created a wonderful crocodile jug made by Quiniso Mungwe.
In 2015, she painted some wonderful parrots, sculpted by Somandla Ntshalintshali, for the ‘Parrots and Pomegranates’ exhibition at Charles Greig, Hyde Park, as well as a 30 year masterwork sculpted by Qiniso Mungwe of a crocodile-like gourd shaped vessel.