Fee Halsted, who established the iconic Ardmore Ceramic Art studio in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in the 1980's, has always been fascinated by two things: art and horses and both are her passion. Art classes began as a young girl, followed by five years studying fine art at the University of Natal.
Encouraged to study a 2-year post graduate course in ceramics, Fee's creative instincts and direction was irrevocably changed when she met David Middlebrook, a well-known American ceramicist.
The unconventional techniques and the ethos of 'thinking out of the box that Fee learned from David were an integral part of her ability to establish Ardmore on a remote farm in the rolling hillsides of the lower Drakensberg.
Today, Ardmore is a name known throughout the international arts world. It has been hailed as a triumph of creativity and empowerment over poverty, disease and lack of formal education. Ardmore has its own divergent energy that has sustained the team through the global recession and the closing of the studio in Champagne Valley.
Launched in 2010, the Ardmore Design Collection translated the distinctive imagery and playfulness of the ceramics into fabrics and furniture. The success of Ardmore's limited edition Qalakabusha couch, which means "new beginnings", was followed by a collaboration with Mavromac on a linen fabric range.
FÈe's daughter, Catherine Berning, and a team of Ardmore artists used African flora and fauna to create a new design paradise that abundantly reflects the vibrancy of nature. Next came a stylish collection of handbags and table linens and then a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Hermès of Paris. In 2016 two Ardmore silk scarf designs were launched by Hermès and the collection has been expanded for 2017.
Cole & Son, English manufacturers of wallpapers since 1875, have just introduced a spectacular Ardmore collection, which makes its debut in the new WMODA gallery.
Watch this space for the up and coming Ardmore Design Collection KZN fabric launch.