Ardmore ceramics and designs are so unusual and exotic that when Africa Nova (supplier to the Cape Grace shop) puts Ardmore on the display shelf above the reception desk, people have an instant desire to buy them. That’s fine – they are for sale!
Ardmore is one of South Africa’s greatest design success stories, with every eccentric vase, bowl, platter, tureen, teapot or sculpture, hand-made and garishly painted and signed by the artist. This fits perfectly with Africa Nova’s ethos of things that are “intimate and irregular and made entirely by the human hand”.
Ardmore Ceramic Art was established by Fée Halsted on Ardmore Farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal in 1985. Here she met Bonnie Ntshalintshali, daughter of their housekeeper, whose polio meant that she was unable to work in the fields. Under Fée’s mentorship, Bonnie’s natural skills as an artist blossomed and five years later they were jointly awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award – the first such artistic partnership to be recognised. You can read more about how this small business grew and how its ceramics became coveted by the rich and famous and discerning collectors all around the world. Christie’s Auction House has acknowledged Ardmore artworks as “modern day collectibles”.
Ardmore’s 25th anniversary in 2010 saw the launch of Ardmore Design Collection, which translated Ardmore’s distinctive imagery and styling into functional products, including dinnerware, tapestries, furniture and fabrics for soft furnishings. This fabulous Qalakabusha Sofa costs R55,000.
Pop into Cape Grace or African Nova’s shop at 72 Waterkant Street in the Cape Quarter and see what Ardmore pieces are in stock – remember each item is totally unique, so you won’t find the same thing twice!
Have you got any Ardmore – what do you love about it?
Photos all courtesy of Ardmore.