We Covet: Ardmore Ceramics

[image: Rhonda Riche]

Here we are at the end of August and we here at Covet Garden are taking a moment to reflect back on the summer of 2015. And I wanted to share my favorite discovery of the season: This terrific tureen from Ardmore Ceramic Art Studio.

I spent the season preparing for a big move, so rehoming my stuff was my big goal. At the same time, hunting craft shows, antique markets, yard sales and thrift shops was my favorite way to release stress. I had given myself a strict “one in, two out” policy when it came to these excursions, meaning that for everything that I bought; I had to get rid of two others.

But when I saw the colorful, covered bowl pictured above, I couldn’t resist. With it’s lush foliage and wonderfully realized animals, it just felt so alive! I also couldn’t wait to get home and research its origins. 

Ardmore Ceramic Art Studio began in South Africa when a young fine arts grad and ceramicist named Fee Halstead started her first studio on her husband’s farm, Ardmore. There, she also taught pottery making. One of her students was a housekeeper’s daughter named Bonnie Ntshalintshali.

As they worked together, Halstead explored the limits of shaping and working with clay, while Ntshalintshali experimented with traditional Zulu themes. Soon it became obvious that by working together, the pieces that they created transcended the world of craft and folk art. And in 1990, they won the Standard Bank Yong Artist Award.

Halstead and Ntshalintshali also wanted to share their good fortune with others in the community, and began mentoring other artists in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, many of whom were affected by the AIDS epidemic (Ntshalintshali died of the disease in 1999). Paulina Ntshalintshali Hadebe, Bonnie’s stepsister, sculpted my find.

The Ardmore artists all work independently — The studio provides training, mentorship, materials, tools and a market for the pieces they produce. The artists also work collaboratively, with ceramicists sculpting the clay and painters lavishly decorating the designs with bright, bold colours. Collectively, the artists tend to depict the local flora and fauna, but thematically the pieces reflect their own experiences rather than the traditional Zulu vernacular.

As a result, these unique pieces have become highly desired and collected by museums. Helen Mirren and the signer Sarah Brightman are also said to be fans. And in 2008, a vase by Ardmore artist, the late Wonderboy Nxumalo, brought in R200, 000 at auction in Johannesburg.

For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to find an Ardmore at a thrift shop, you can order pieces through Ardmore’s online shop. The Studio also ceelbrated their 25th anniversary in 2010 by launching the Ardmore Collection, a line of fabrics and furnishings based on their distinctive and exuberant designs.



Art Games

[via ISO50 blog]

The city of Toronto recently hosted the 2015 PanAm and ParaPanAm games. I admit that I reluctantly fell in love with the event (I’m not a fan of crowds or rampant bootserism) because of all of the arts and cultural events that took place across the city. Townies and tourists alike got to see some provocative theatre, eat Mexican street corn, attend free concerts and explore art from across the Americas.

In between the PanAm and ParaPan events, I found myself in Lausanne, Switzerland at the Olympic Museum. Our tour guide explained that arts and culture were part of the competition in the original Olympiad in ancient Greece as well as the Modern Olympics. In the 1950s the International Olympic Committee voted to stop awarding medals for painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and music.

The spirit of celebrating art and design now lives on in the pageantry of the opening and closing ceremonies and the overall graphic design of the games. I still have fond memories of the look of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. The clean, graphic identity of those games was led by Montréalers Georges Huel and Pierre-Yves Pelletier. And Amik, the abstracted beaver mascot they created, has had an enduring legacy—I saw a guy wearing an Amik t-shirt at one of the PanAm concerts.

At the Olympic Museum I was also happy to discover the amazingly mod looks of the 1968 Mexico Games. Led by Lance Wyman, Beatrice Colle, Jose Luis Ortiz and Jan Stornfeld, the typography and imagery of the event was influenced by Op Art and Pre-Columbian traditions.

[image via: the gradient]

[above images via The Olympic Museum]

It’s this linking to the past that makes all the difference in the look of Mexico 68. In fact, the event itself was historic in calling out colonialism (who can forget Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the Black Power salute on the podium), but also making note to historical changes (Mexico’s Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron). And the Tlatelolco Massacre ten days before the start of the games has been called Mexico’s Tiananmen Square.

Much of the design is very much a snapshot of the times—although I would love to bring some of those Hostess dresses back. In fact, I now find myself searching for a few examples of souvenirs from Mexico—I think a pop pink wristwatch or a triangular melamine plate with the exploded Mexico 68 logo.

[via Etsy Seller Mod Longe Vintage]


Best of Etsy: Sleep in Beauty

[Michael's bedroom from issue 32 photogrpahed by Jodi Pudge]

As we approach our fifth anniversary this September, the Covet Garden team has been looking back at our favourite featured homes. We've noticed that in the majority of places we feature, the occupants will describe their bedrooms as their sanctuaries. And we agree—we'd love to take a nap in any of the sleeping spaces we have visited. 

[Sara and Dan's bedroom from issue 56 photographed by Donna Griffith]

[Shelley and Brendan's bedroom from issue 2 photographed by Jodi Pudge]

[Victoria's bedroom from issue 28 photographed by Jodi Pudge]

[Iza's bedroom from issue 49 photographed by Ashley Capp]

These restful interiors all include beautiful objects, furnishings and fabrics to make us feel wrapped up in good vibes wether we're awake or asleep. Inspired, we of course turned to Etsy to look for dreamy bedroom bits and pieces. And we've created a brand new treasury of handmade and vintage bedroom decor finds to share with you.

1. Vintage Twin Headboard from PourToujours; 2. Hand-woven blanket from TexturableDecor; 3. Felted slippers from SimplicityOfFelt; 4. Vintage Swedish needlepoint cushion from LittleRetronome; 5. Vintage clock radio from MightyVintage; 6. KEM Weber daybed with hair pin legs from ArroyoArtifacts.

And we're always adding to our treasuries as we uncover more amazing materials, so follow our boards for updates!


Issue 57 is Now Live!


September marks our fifth year publishing Covet Garden. We like to think that we are always moving boldly into the future with the spaces we feature, but it never hurts to take a look back and make sure we're still staying true to our original goals.

Which is why we wanted to revisit one of our favourite spaces, the work/live space of John, Arounna, Lliam and Piper, to see how they too have grown and how they keep their creative spirit alive.

Also in this issue: We have even more pages of projects and inspiration including locally sourced kids' clothes, paper projects and botanical beauties. In short, ways to celebrate playfulness and joy every day, not just on our birthday.


Sponsor Love: Room With A View


After almost five years of writing about spaces big and small for Covet Garden, I have become obsessed with the concept of space. And while my partner and I loved our little house, it's many small rooms started to feel claustrophobic (and prone to collecting clutter). Inspired by the open concept condos we've featured in the past, we decided to downsize in order to gain a more spacious feeling.

We fell in love with this garden flat (pictured above and below) in a co-owned building (pictured above and below). The clincher was this amazing terrace. The question then became how to make that space feel like an extension of the inside of the apartment with flexible outdoor patio furniture.

With the help of the Covet Garden team, we turned to Pinterest for some inspired, outdoor living ideas. Here are some of our favourite, au naturale looks. 

Even before we decided to move, I've been a little obsessed with the outside. Whether it's been eating dinner al fresco, painting plein air watercolours or even just taking in the cool evening breezes in the park. I plan to use this space well into the fall, so I plan on finding weatherproof, flexible pieces furnishings to really turn this terrace into an extended living space.

Now that I am armed with with inspiration of how my new patio could look, the next step is sourcing places where I can find great outdoor furniture. During the research phase, the Canadian company Jardin de Ville contacted us about sponsoring a blog post, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. The store is filled with collections of clean and sophisticated designs. Full disclosure: Once we decided to downsize, I went a little overboard with the purging, so I don't have much indoor furniture either. Which is one reason I was drawn to the pale, neutral palette of the pieces pictured below — in a pinch I can picture some of these pieces migrating indoors during the winter.

Road Two Seater Sofa


Road Club Lounge


Network Left Sectional


Dansk Club Lounge

Apollo Side Table