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Ardmore Ceramics

Ardmore Ceramics
Ardmore Ceramics was established by Fée Halsted on Ardmore Farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal, where she lived after obtaining her BA (Fine Arts) Honours degree and lecturing at Natal Technikon.

Ardmore Ceramics

On Ardmore Farm, Fée met Bonnie Ntshalintshali, daughter of their housekeeper, whose polio meant that she was unable to work in the fields. Fée and Bonnie quickly developed a synergy and under Fée's mentorship, Bonnie's natural skills as an artist blossomed. Five years later, in 1990, Fée and Bonnie were jointly awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award, the first such artistic partnership to be recognised. With this success came the demands of creating ceramics for their exhibition, so Fée offered other local women the opportunity to train at Ardmore Ceramics, producing pieces to generate income for the fledgling studio.

Fèe, through necessity, developed the exuberant exotic style that has made Ardmore Ceramics famous. "I made tiles and if one cracked, I'd stick a rabbit or bird on the top to hide it," she recalls. Their work broke from the ceramic conventions of the time: fired terracotta clay was painted with plaka paints, boot polish and oven blackeners. Glues and putty were also used. Later American Amaco paints and transparent glazes brought vibrant colour and fine painting style to the ceramics.

Ardmore's 25th anniversary in 2010 saw the launch of Ardmore Design Collection, which translated Ardmore's distinctive imagery and styling into functional, superb quality ceramic and non-ceramic products including dinnerware, tapestries, furniture, fabrics for soft furnishings, and more. This new venture was made possible through a generous grant in late 2009 by the Business Trust's Shared Growth Challenge Fund.

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