Art in Clay 2012 – Celebrating Women Potters


Exhibition dates: 27 October – 16 November 2012

With the second Franschhoek Art in Clay Festival, La Motte celebrated how the most basic of materials – clay and water – can be transformed by skill and fire to create varied and interesting objects, from artworks to quality domestic pieces.

The La Motte Museum hosted the exhibition of significant ceramics by South African Women potters. On show at the exhibition were ceramics from various women potters, the pieces were selected from the collections of the Iziko Museum in Cape Town and the Clay Museum in Durbanville.

Women are historically closely associated with pottery in Southern Africa and one of South Africa’s first production potteries, The Ceramic Studio, was the work of a remarkable group of women. They produced painted tiles, monumental ceramic sculptures, decorative vases and tableware at their Olifantsfontein studio situated between Pretoria and Johannesburg on premises that belonged to Sir Thomas Cullinan. The Ceramic Studio was founded in 1925 by former students of the Durban School of Art, Gladys Short and Marjorie Johnstone, who were later joined by Joan Methley, Audrey Frank and others. In 1942, Cullinan bought the pottery and the name was changed to Linnware. Linnware ceramics were produced until about 1962 and a selection of their work was included in the exhibition.

La Motte Museum hosted an interesting talk by a modern practising woman in pottery, Ella-Lou O’Meara on 8 November 2012. The talk had as focus – the connection between painting, print-making and ceramics and how these art forms and their technical aspects have developed through history, with reference to China, Italy, the rest of Europe and with special attention to the ceramics that came to the Cape and is today still shown in the Castle of Good Hope.

Ella-Lou has worked closely with La Motte in the design of Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant’s much-talked-about chandeliers made from hand painted porcelain, her beautiful bowls and plates are available at the La Motte Farm Shop on the estate.

Other participating galleries:

Artefact, The Ceramics Gallery, EBONY, The Gallery at Grande Provence, IS Art and Le Quartier Français.

A special thank you to IZIKO Museums and the Rust en Vrede Clay Museum for their collaboration with the Celebrating Women Potters exhibition.