Mavis Shabalala

Mavis Shabalala was born in 1965 and, like her sister Punch, grew up in the shadow of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg and the Ardmore farm where their parents were employed.

After leaving school, Mavis also found employment on the farm, but with the help of Fèe Halsted and through perseverance and a dogged determination to follow her sister, she uncovered a talent for drawing and design and in 1990 became a full member of Ardmore’s creative team.

Mavis’s rich and complex designs follow the forms of Zulu beading and basket work. Her bead-like patterns and fine attention to detail result in ceramics that are fully patterned and coloured with no white showing.

Often one sees a circular design with lines bursting off it that remind one of a star or sun.

These patterns symbolise the ‘amasumpha’ or egg-like bumps seen on traditional Zulu beer pots. The linear lines represent birth, hatching or bursts of energy.

These traditional abstract designs delight the eye and charm the spirits.

Mavis’s pieces are particularly sought after by collectors because her painting is true to her culture.

At the Christie’s exhibition in London in January 2004 her teapots, candlesticks, pots and bowls drew considerable interest and were later successfully auctioned.

Mavis herself now has two children but has found the opportunity to travel with Ardmore’s exhibitions locally – visiting Cape Town in 1999.

When Fée closed the ‘Berg studio in 2009, Mavis did not move to Caversham but decided to remain in the Loskop area and take care of her mother, Lefina, who was a maid in the Berning home with her sister-in-law Janet Ntshalintshali, Bonnie’s mother.

Ever since Mavis’s sister, Punch, takes blank work home for her to paint and returns with her painted ware.

In 2013, Mavis’s daughter, Thandeka, joined the painting studio under the guidance of her auntie Punch, whilst her son, Alex, began work in the lush gardens at Ardmore Caversham. The next generation is following in their parents’ footsteps, alongside the Berning children.

Exhibitions

1990


Diminicus GalleryJohannesburg

1992


Volkskas ExhibitionDurban

'The Natal Route'Johannesburg

1995


'The Spirit of Our Stories' (print exhibition)Grahamstown

1992-1996


Gallery on TyroneJohannesburg

1994


Natal Society of Arts exhibitionDurban

1996


Meklenberg Groote Schuur, Cape Town

1997


State President's Guest HouseBryntirion Estate, Pretoria

Catalyst GalleryJohannesburg

1998


Ardmore Exhibition SA Embassy Residence, Bonn, Germany

Ardmore ExhibitionMarl Concert Hall, Marl, Germany

Ardmore ExhibtionSiegen, Germany

Ardmore ExhibitionThyssen Forum Dusseldorf, Germany

Everard Read GalleryJohannesburg

1999


Bordeaux St GalleryFranschhoek, Western Cape

Gallery on TyroneJohannesburg

2000


ABSA BankJohannesburg

2001


International Ceramic Arts FestivalWales

Hospice ExhibitionJohannesburg

SA Embassy ExhibitionKuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2002


Charles Greig JewellersHyde Park, Johannesburg

2003


Christie’s ExhibitionLondon

2004


Christie’s AuctionLondon

City Arts CouncilEdinburgh, Scotland

EdinburghJohannesburg

2005


Private ExhibitionHigh Commissioner, Highveld, London

Christopher GreigHyde Park, Johannesburg

2006


Amaridian GalleryNew York

Private ExhibitionHigh Commissioner, Highveld, London

Everard Read GalleryJohannesburg

2007


Christie’s AuctionLondon

‘Cats of the World’Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

2008


Amaridian GalleryNew York

‘Wonderful World of Ardmore’Groote Schuur, Cape Town

2009


South Africa HouseLondon

2010


Anagama GalleryVersailles, France

Pascoe & Co.Florida, United States

SOFA (Sculpture Objects & Functional Art)Chicago, United States

‘Travellers of Africa'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

2011


‘Ivory and Ebony’Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town

‘Clay: The Art of Earth & Fire’Tremaine Gallery, Conneticut, United States

Hallwyl MuseumStockholm, Sweden

NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg

Eboka Spring CollectionPretoria

2012


International Ceramic ShowWest Palm Beach, Florida, United States

'Ardmore Aviary'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town

Les Ceramiques Zouloues ArdmoreParis, France

'Endangered Animals'Patrick Mavros, London

'An African Collection'The Milk Factory Gallery, Bowral, Australia

NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg

Fabric and book launch: 'Ardmore, We Are Because of Others'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town

Fabric and book launch: 'Ardmore, We Are Because of Others'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

Ardmore in LuxembourgLuxembourg

Ardmore in MauritiusMauritius

Ardmore in FranceFrance

Ardmore in SwitzerlandGeneva, Switzerland

Christmas Safari WeekPatrick Mavros, London

A Celebration of Zulu Life and ArtistrySt Louis, United States

Ardmore AustraliaSydney, Australia

2013


Ed PascoeFlorida, United States

‘Monkeys and Magnolias’Patrick Mavros, London

Isabelle Turquin GalleryParis, France

Journee, des ceramiquesSt Sulpice, Paris, France

NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg

'Safari Week'Patrick Mavros, London

Patrick MavrosHarare, Zimbabwe

2014


‘Great Herds of Africa’Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town

‘Great Herds of Africa’Patrick Mavros, London

'Inspired by the Ocean'Fyn Arts, Hermanus, Western Cape

'Birds of Africa'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

‘Great Herds of Africa’Patrick Mavros, Nairobi, Kenya

'Birds of Africa'Patrick Mavros, Harare, Zimbabwe

2015


WMODAPascoe & Co., Florida, United States

'Animal Botanical'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town

2016


'Kalahari Cats'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town

'The Great Zambezi'Patrick Mavros, London

'Celebrating The Year Of The Monkey'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

2017


'The Great Zambezi'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town