Mavis Shabalala

Mavis 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 Ardmore 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 symbolise 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 RouteJohannesburg

1995


The Spirit of our StoriesGrahamstown

1992-1996


Gallery on TyroneJohannesburg

1994


Natal Society of Arts exhibitionDurban

1996


Meklenberg Groote SchuurCape Town

1997


State President's Guest HousePretoria

Catalyst GalleryJohannesburg

1998


Exhibition SA Embassy ResidenceGermany

Marl Concert HallGermany

Germany Exhibition SiegenGermany

Thyssen Forum DusseldorfGermany

Everard Read GalleryJohannesburg

1999


Bordeaux St GalleryFranschhoek

Gallery on TyroneJohannesburg

2000


ABSA BankJohannesburg

2001


International Ceramic Arts FestivalWales

Hospice ExhibitionJohannesburg

SA Embassy ExhibitionMalaysia

2002


Charles Greig JewellersJohannesburg

2003


Christie’s exhibitionLondon

2004


Christie’s auctionLondon

City Arts CouncilEdinburgh

EdinburghJohannesburg

2005


Private exhibitionLondon

Christopher GreigHydepark

2006


Amaridian GalleryNew York

Private exhibitionLondon

Everard Read GalleryJohannesburg

2007


Christie’s auctionLondon

‘Cats of the World’Johannesburg

2008


Amaridian GalleryNew York

‘Wonderful World of Ardmore’Cape Town

2009


South Africa HouseLondon

2010


Anagama GalleryFrance

Pascoe & Co.United States

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

‘Travellers of Africa'Johannesburg

2011


‘Ivory and Ebony’Cape Town

‘Clay: The Art of Earth & Fire’United States

Hallwyl MuseumSweden

NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg

Eboka Spring CollectionPretoria

2012


International Ceramic ShowUnited States

Ardmore AviaryCape Town

Les Ceramiques Zouloues ArdmoreFrance

Endangered Animals ExhibitionLondon

An African CollectionAustralia

Naada FaireJohannesburg

Ardmore CarnivalCape Town

Ardmore CarnivalJohannesburg

ArdmoreLuxembourg

ArdmoreMauritius

ArdmoreFrance

ArdmoreGeneva

Patrick Mavros Christmas Safari WeekLondon

A celebration of Zulu Life and ArtistryUnited States

Ardmore AustraliaAustralia

2013


Ed PascoeUnited States

‘Monkeys and Magnolias’London

Isabelle Turquin GalleryFrance

International Ceramic FairFrance

Naada FaireJohannesburg

Safari WeekLondon

Patrick MavrosZimbabwe

2014


‘Great Herds of Africa’Cape Town