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.
Alex Sibanda was born in Gweru in Zimbabwe in 1963. His father was a foreman on a farm while his mother took care of her eight children.
At school he was encouraged to develop his drawing skills. In 1978 he joined the Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre where he was involved in drawing, sculpture and mural painting.
Seeking safer pastures than strife-torn Zimbabwe, Alex moved to South Africa in 2004. He found employment at Into Arts in Johannesburg, modelling dinnerware such as vases, teapots and bowls. “But it didn’t have the imagination and vitality of Ardmore,” he says.
His fellow countryman, Lovemore Sithole, invited Alex to visit Ardmore and he joined the team of sculptors in January 2010. Alex is married and has four children who live in Johannesburg.
In 2010, Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore, and Christopher Greig of Charles Greig Jewellers, were preparing for the ‘Travellers of Africa’ exhibition to commemorate the World Cup Soccer in South Africa.
Alex was guided to create sculpture rather than functional ceramics, deriving his inspiration from images he knew well: the Zimbabwean carved wooden hippo curio found on the roadside enroute to Harare or Bulawayo from Beit Bridge.
Alex identified with Fée’s ideas as he and his fellow travellers had experienced travelling from SA in heavily loaded buses on their many border crossings, returning with provisions for their families.
Alex was inspired as the theme of travellers was very close to his heart.
Fée, on the other hand, was also harking back to the Egyptian hippos decorated in Blue Lotus flowers as the hippo image is steeped in ancient African imagery.
Fée assigned Alex to sculpt the Rider series for the ‘Travellers’ exhibition at Charles Greig in 2010, and his first Hippo Riders, decorated by Jabu Nene, were purchased by the Museum of Cultures in Basel, Switzerland.
He says: “I am happy to be at Ardmore, doing what I know best – sculpting. I enjoyed creating the Hippo Riders. They have really put me on the map.”
In 2012 Alex’s Rider series moved from hippos to rhino riders and were used to raise awareness and funds for endangered species.
His riders were also selected to narrate the vices and virtues of life in South Africa in a major Ardmore commission called ‘The South African Formula’.
The same year Alex began working large scale and created a very big monkey sculpture for a collector in Mauritius and another monkey with a baby, which was painted by Mandla Ngwenya in the new fabric range patterns for the ‘Grand Carnival’ fabric and book launch, held at Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg.
“Alex is the most wonderful man and artist to work with as he is always challenged and dares,” says Fée.
Since then his scale has increased. He created his first giant hippo sculptures, which were launched in 2013 at Charles Greig’s ‘Just so Crocodile and Other Curiosities’ show in Hyde Park; and, towards the end of that year, was chosen to represent South Africa and Ardmore at the Moscow Trade Show in Russia.
In January 2014 Pascoe & Co. exhibited Alex’s large rhino and hippo rider sculptures and his first large giraffe was shown at the Cellars-Hohenot in Cape Town in February 2014.
A wonderful Ground Hornbill sculpture was also created by Alex for the ‘Birds of Africa’ show in September 2014 for Charles Greig Jewellers, Sandton.
Ardmore celebrated 30 years in 2015 and Alex was assigned to work on a limited edition storytelling series of 30 works.
His first commission was a large rhino, which he worked on in collaboration with Petros Gumbi, and a model of the figure of Bonnie Ntshalintshali with her Standard Bank Young Artist’s Award work.
Alex also travelled in February 2015 with an Ardmore team to Cellars-Hohenot in Cape Town for the ‘Animal Botanical’ exhibition.
‘African Travellers’Charles, Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
Amaridian GalleryNew York
Anagama GalleryVersailles, France
‘Ivory & Ebony’Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
‘Earth & Fire’Tremaine Gallery, Hotchkiss School, Conneticut, United States
Le Negresco HotelNice, France
NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg
International Ceramic ShowEd Pascoe, West Palm Beach, United States
‘Ardmore Aviary’Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
Les Ceramiques Zouloues ArdmoreParis, France
‘Endangered Animals’ exhibitionPatrick Mavros, London
An African CollectionThe Milk Factory Gallery, Bowral, Australia
NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg
Fabric and book launch: 'Ardmore, We Are Because of Others'Hermanus, Western Cape
Fabric and book launch: 'Ardmore, We Are Because of Others'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
'Grand Carnival' - fabric and book launch: 'Ardmore, We Are Because of Others'Charles Greig, Johannesburg
Ardmore in LuxembourgLuxembourg
Ardmore in MauritiusPG Mavros, Terre Rouge
Ardmore in BeauneFrance
Ardmore in GenevaSwitzerland
Christmas Safari WeekPatrick Mavros, London
A Celebration of Zulu Life and ArtistrySt Louis, United States
Ardmore AustraliaSydney, Australia
Pascoe & Co. exhibitionWest Palm Beach, United States
‘Monkeys and Magnolias’Patrick Mavros, London
FynArts FestivalHermanus, Western Cape
NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireSandton, Johannesburg
Africa Trade FairJapan
Franschhoek Literary FestivalFranschhoek, Western Cape
'Just So Crocodiles and other Curiosities’Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
Creel and GowNew York
'Safari Week'Patrick Mavros, London
Patrick MavrosHarare, Zimbabwe
Pascoe & Co.West Palm Beach, United States
‘Great Herds of Africa’Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
‘Great Herds of Africa’Patrick Mavros, London
‘Inspired By the Ocean’Marine Hotel, 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
WMODAPascoe & Co, Dania Beach, Florida, United States
'Animal Botanical'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
Animal Botanical'Patrick Mavros, London
'Parrots and Pomegranates'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
Isabelle Turquin GalleryParis, France
‘Kalahari Cats’Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
‘The Great Zambezi’Patrick Mavros, London
'Celebrating The Year of The Monkey'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
'The Great Zambezi'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town
'Savuti Dance'Patrick Mavros, London
'o'kavango'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg