It begins

1985


It begins

The Ardmore studio was founded in 1985 by Zimbabwean-born ceramic artist Fée Halsted. It was started on the Ardmore farm, at the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains.

1985 and 1988


Ardmore exhibits at two Cape Town Triennials.

1987


Fée wins the Corona del Mar Young Artist Award.

It begins

1988


This detail of Bonnie’s Lobolo tableau illustrates the captivating naivety of her art. The work is in the collection of the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermartizburg.

It begins

1990


Josephine Ghesa joins Ardmore

Unique and haunting, Ghesa’s work was described by Chicago University Dean Carol Bekker as “some of the strongest work I’ve seen”. Self portrait, 1990, was sculpted after her arrival at Ardmore, with her baby tied to her back in traditional style.

It begins

1992


The Ardmore team

By 1992 the Ardmore team included (back, from left) Nhlanhla Nsundwane, Phineas Mweli, Beatrice Nyembe and Paulina Hadebe, and (front, from left) Mavis Shabalala, Matrinah Nsundwane and Josephine Ghesa.

1996


Ardmore opens a second studio in Springvale.

It begins

1996


Woman on ox

Bonny Ntshalintshali, Agnes Ndlovu, Phineas Mweli and other artists die of AIDS-related illnesses. The virus would claim the lives of scores more artists over the next two decades. Ardmore established the Ardmore Excellence Fund which provides ARV medication to AIDS sufferers, assist artists with medical expenses, education, funeral costs, basic nutrition and cares for orphans whose parents died of AIDS.

1999


The AIDS pandemic

Bonny Ntshalintshali, Agnes Ndlovu, Phineas Mweli and other artists die of AIDS-related illnesses. The virus would claim the lives of scores more artists over the next two decades. Ardmore established the Ardmore Excellence Fund which provides ARV medication to AIDS sufferers, assist artists with medical expenses, education, funeral costs, basic nutrition and cares for orphans whose parents died of AIDS.

It begins

2000


Zebra Tureen

Zebra soup tureen and ladle sculpted by Beauty Ntshalintshali and painted by Mavis Shabalala.

2001


The Zulu History Collection

Ardmore creates a collection on Zulu history and culture, focusing on the Anglo-Zulu war and influence of the French military in Zululand in the late 19th century.

2003 and 2004


Christie’s hosts landmark auctions of Ardmore ceramics in London, describing them as “modern collectibles”.

It begins

2005


Caversham Mill

Ardmore moves its studio from Champagne to Caversham in the Natal Midlands, with new stables, ceramic workshops and a gallery building, which houses the Bonnie Ntshalintshali Museum.

It begins

2008


Groote Schuur

A landmark event for Ardmore: Eleanor Kasrils arranged for a large event of Ardmore work to be held at Groote Schuur, the historic home of Cecil John Rhodes. The 400 piece event, opened by Dr Lindiwe Mabuza, was a stunning success. Nearly every piece was sold.

It begins

2008


Wonderboy

One of Ardmore’s most celebrated artists, Wonderboy Nxumalo, dies of an AIDS-related illness. He used the monkey as a metaphor to illustrate his message in the AIDS-awareness works he created from 2000 until his death in 2008. His works continue to be exhibited at museums and galleries across the world.

It begins

2010


Amapipi Teapot

This Baboon Amapipi Teapot was sculpted by Bennet Zondo and painted by Wiseman Ndlovu.

It begins

2011


Hippo Riders

The Hippo Riders vase is sculpted by Alex Sibanda and painted by Jabu Nene. It was inspired by the plight of countless Zimbabweans who have crossed the Limpopo River into South Africa to escape the turmoil in their homeland.

2013


Ardmore works are shown at the Gerisch Museum in Hamburg, Germany.

2013


Halsted Launches

Halsted Design is created by Fleur Heyns, Fée Halsted and Jonathan Berning, to transform African art into contemporary fabrics, furnishings and design objects. Halsted’s first collection is drawn from the Ardmore Design Collection.

It begins

2015 - 2016


Ardmore celebrates its 30th Anniversary

Ardmore hosts a series of events in South Africa and abroad, to celebrate its 30thanniversary. Created for the Kalahari Cats collection, the Meerkat and Ostrichmasterwork urn was sculpted by Qiniso Mungwe and painted by Mthulisi Ncube.

It begins

1985


Bonnie joins Fée

Later that same year, Bonakele (Bonnie) Ntshalintshali, who was born on the farm and 18 years old at the time, began a ceramics apprenticeship under Fée.

“Ardmore became a success because of Bonny’s craftsmanship, skill and meticulous attention to detail.” – Fée Halsted.

1988


Bonnie receives the Corobrik National Ceramic Arts Award.

It begins

1989


Packing a punch

Two sisters, Punch and Mavis Shabalala join a growing Ardmore team. Each develops a unique painterly style. Plate, 1990, was sculpted by Mavis Shabalala and painted by Punch Shabalala.

1990


Fée and Bonny jointly win the Standard Bank Young Artist Award.

1991


Bonnie’s work is selected for the Aperto Venice Biennale.

It begins

1991


Charles Greig Jewellers

Charles Greig Jewellers began purchasing Ardmore in the early 1990s and have been great supporters of our work ever since. The first display of Ardmore ceramics in the jeweller’s upmarket stores was in 1991. Since then Charles Greig and Ardmore have collaborated on many other events.

It begins

1992


Herod Antipas

Detail of a tableau of Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias. Their daughter Salome, influenced by her mother, asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. In this detail, Bonnie makes us aware of the queen’s evil intentions by giving her a bra of green mambas.

It begins

1997


The Sefako Makgatho event

Organised by Eleanor Kasrils (pictured), Ardmore presented a 400 piece event at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria. Opened by South Africa’s first lady, Ms Zanele Mbeki, the event sold out.

It begins

2000


Monkey Teapot

Inspired by Egyptian funeral urns, this teapot was sculpted by Nhlanhla Nsundwane and painted by Virginia Xaba, 2000.

2004


The Ardmore team continues to grow, and now employs close to 70 artists.

It begins

2004


The Men event, Gallery on the Square

More men joined Ardmore as they began to realise they could return to the countryside and earn as much as women artists do. This created a creative and energetic spirit which placed Zulu women and men on an equal footing. This Insect Teapot was sculpted by Sfiso Mvelase and painted by Zinhle Nene.

It begins

2007


Leopard Urn

Leopard urn thrown by Sabelo Khoza, sculpted by Sondelani Ntshalintshali and painted by Mickey Chonco. This piece was exhibited as part of the Great Cats of the World event, with Charles Greig in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

It begins

2008


The AIDS Monster

In this satirical sculpture of an “AIDS monster”, the full tragedy of the pandemic is portrayed: the horror of a monster devouring people, the weeping eyes on the rim of the vase, and a doctor struggling in vain to kill the beast. Sculpted by Sfiso Mvelase and painted by Roux Gwala.

It begins

2008


The Bonnie Ntshalintshali Museum

The Bonnie Ntshalintshali Museum reopens in 2008. Each artist was commissioned to produce a replica of a work made by Bonnie, or to create a new piece inspired by her creativity. Bonnie Surrounded by her Work was painted and sculpted by Petros Gumbi, 2002.

2010


Ardmore exhibits at the Sculpture Objects & Function Art (SOFA) fair in New York and Chicago, and the Global Africa Project event at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

It begins

2010


Ardmore Design Collection

Ardmore launches its experimental design collection, a range of luxury lifestyle items including dinnerware, table linen, soft furnishings, tapestry designs and the iconic, limited edition, Qalakabusha sofa. This new venture was made possible through a generous grant by the Business Trust’s Shared Growth Challenge Fund, and has since grown into a separate business.

2010


Fée is honoured by Philadelphia-based Women’s Campaign International for the difference Ardmore’s work has made in the lives of rural women in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

2011



Ardmore exhibits at the Istanbul Biennale.

It begins

2012


Patrick Mavros

Ardmore begins a collaboration with Patrick Mavros, the highly regarded Zimbabwean silversmith and Fée’s brother-in-law in 2012. The Patrick Mavros flagship store in London hosts an Ardmore event in May every year, helping to bring Ardmore to a new international audience.

It begins

2016


Hermès

After a two-year collaboration, the French luxury house Hermès launches of a series of silk scarves based on designs by Sydney Nyabeze. This was the first time any design house in South Africa has collaborated with the 179-year-old French company.