When it comes to ceramic art in South Africa, the name Ardmore is widely mentioned. Their colourful hand-painted ceramics are collector’s items for many local and foreign tourists that visit their studio in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.
Fee Halsted, the founder of Ardmore Ceramic Art, spoke to the BBC about her unique style and how the collaboration with Hermes came about.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. Where does Fee Halsted get her inspiration from?
2. When were they discovered by Hermes designers? Where?
3. What do they design for Hermes?
4. Who is Betty in the Zulu culture?
5. When are they new artists trained?
It's not about perspective drawing, it's about shapes and patterns, lot of traditional patterning, Zulu patterning that is fresh to the western world and beautiful colours, the most amazing colours. We are also inspired by nature, so obviously the animals of Africa and the fauna, the flora, the beautiful botanic is our inspiration.
I will be going now for 31 years but it was three years ago, it was about 2013 and my young daughter Megan and I were in Paris at the Journey de Ceramic, it was an art fair of ceramics from all over the world and we were discovered by Hermes designers. They were walking around the fair and they came to me and they said, my goodness, this is the most incredible design, could we have a meeting, would you be interested to design for Hermes scarves, and I said, of course, I mean, what a wonderful collaboration to be discovered by a company of that brand and association.
In 2016 we had the absolute honour of seeing our scarves in reality, and it's really been great fun and exciting to see how the public, the world renown, whether it's Dubai or Hong-Kong or Bangkok and, you know, people buying the scarves and when I was in London in May, they ran out.
So this is where the magic takes place. So Betty is the mother of birds. Today we are working with about 50 people and it's very much like an old English studio pottery. The artists come, they join winter school for two months of the year in winter when we're not too busy, and they’re now taught by a young man who I've trained called a wise man in clove (?) and what they do is they go through the artistry. We teach them sculpting, painting, glaze firing, glazing, all the basic requirements in the studio. Then we see where their talent lies, it’s either in the sculpting studio or in the painting studio, very rarely you get an artist to be as good as those.
1 Zulu culture and nature
2 In 2013 in Paris, in an art fair of ceramics
4 the mother of birds
5 In winter time for two months