Our ceramics are made by local artists - ordinary people from the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal,
who are given training, materials, a studio and a guaranteed market for their work,
under the guidance of our founder, Fée Halsted.
Fée Halsted was born in 1958 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In the early 70s she travelled south to study at the Natal University, Pietermaritzburg, for a BA Fine Arts degree.
This was followed by a two-year postgraduate course in ceramics.
She then lectured for a short time at the then Natal Technikon (now Durban University of Technology) in Durban, but soon found herself married and living on the farm Ardmore in the Champagne Valley in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, with her husband, James, in 1985.
Fée’s first student was Bonnie Ntshalintshali, the daughter of a farm employee.
Bonnie’s natural aptitude for ceramic art soon attracted other members of Bonnie’s family who asked if they too could learn from Fèe. This led to the creation of Ardmore, the largest ceramic art studio in South Africa.
Bonnie became known as one of South Africa’s leading ceramic artists, while Ardmore’s exciting diversity has been endorsed by Christie’s, London as ‘modern collectibles’.
Fée’s merging of western ceramics technology with African art is only part of the story of Ardmore. Of even more significance has been her encouragement of the artists’ imagination based on nature, Zulu folklore and tradition.
Fée has been described as ‘a creator of artists.’ As well as giving so much of her artistic ability to her creative team, she has won numerous art awards, including the Standard Bank Young Artist (Fine Art) Award, which she won jointly with Bonnie Ntshalintshali in 1990.
The large group of sculptors and painters who produce ceramics under the Ardmore label amply demonstrate the diversity of talent that has emerged under Fée’s tuition.
As she says: “The Zulu people have a wonderful sense of colour and rhythm and a gift for design and balance, all they needed was opportunity.”
In 2015, the year Ardmore celebrated it 30 year anniversary, Fée was honoured with a doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
And, in 2016, she was honoured for her contribution to the arts in South Africa at the Mbokodo Awards.
She was nominated in the category of traditional and indigenous art, which celebrates women whose work, be it music, painting, handicraft or other form, is created using indigenous materials, based on traditional methods and meanings within the context of a given culture.
As mentor and teacher to every artist to have worked at Ardmore, Fée has led or participated in every exhibition of Ardmore Ceramics.
1987Corona Del mare Young artist award
1990Standard Bank Young Artist Award
2010Womans Campaign International Award
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Arnold, M. (1996) Women and Art in South Africa, Cape Town: David Philip Publishers - p. 16
Scott, G. (1998) Ardmore: An African Discovery, Cape Town: Fernwood Press
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de Waal, Edmund (ed.) (2011) The Pot Book, London: Phaidon - p.13
Theron, R. (ed.) (2012) Ardmore: We Are Because of Others, Cape Town: Fernwood Press