is an award-winning ceramics studio creating collectible South African ceramics products that are distinctive, colourful, whimsical and full of character. Ardmore’s ceramics call to mind the tradition of detailed porcelain and pottery artworks seen throughout the ages, particularly in Chinese and Japanese culture, and in recognition of the studio’s high level of creativity and craftsmanship have been labelled ‘modern day collectibles’ by Christie’s, one of the world’s most prestigious fine art auction houses. Located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Ardmore was founded over twenty-five years ago by fine artist, Fée Halsted; who began mentoring Bonnie Ntshalintshali and five years after they started were jointly awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award. This award award brought increased demand for their work and as the studio expanded Fee began to work with and train women from the local community and in the process developing Ardmore’s signature flamboyant style of collectible South African ceramics.
[Image credits: top, Hoopoe 2011; bottom, Leopards with Cubs – Ardmore Ceramics]
In a departure from Ardmore colourful signature style, four lamp bases and two urns in a white earthenware clay, were created especially for Southern Guild; a South African organisation that was set up to help emerging artists establish themselves and source new markets. The pieces shown here were thrown by Lovemore Sithole, modelled and carved by Sondelani Ntshalintshali, both of whom are artists at Ardmore working in collaboration with Fée Halsted. The plain white colour simplifies the designs, toning down the many details and imagery that often characterises Ardmore’s ceramics. This style is more in keeping with my personal tastes, as I like how the white colour marks out the sculptural forms allowing your eye to rest on each individual element; they look like centuries old precious porcelain collectibles.
Today Ardmore collaborates with over fifty artists both men and women who comprises throwers, sculptors and painters. Given the freedom to explore their creativity; through Ardmore the artists are given materials, training, direction, work space and a market for their work. Sadly in 1999, Bonnie Ntshalintshali, Ardmore’s founding artist, passed away; and in 2003 Fee established the Bonnie Ntshalintshali Museum to honour her co-artist and friend. In 2010 to mark Ardmore’s twenty fifth anniversary the company launched Ardmore Design Collection translating the company’s signature style into an increased range of ceramic products including dinnerware, in addition to fabrics, furniture and tapestries. Ardmore’s collectible South African ceramics can be found in galleries and collections all over the world, and many of the artists have won local and international awards, and have taken part in exhibitions.