Tea with a Twist at Ardmore
The Ardmore Ceramic Art Studio in South Africa makes unique animal teapots which are hand-modeled and hand-painted in exuberant colors by talented Zulu artists. Fée Halsted, the founder of Ardmore, has fostered artistic talent in a remote area of KwaZulu-Natal for the last 30 years. A Bachelor of Arts graduate, Fée has studied the history of ceramics and at Ardmore she has created a new style of ceramic art which blends European and African traditions. On the shelves of the Ardmore studio are books about humorous Victorian Majolica wares and the work of the eccentric Martin brothers, famous for their bizarre bird-shaped jars. The Ardmore artists may have been inspired by 19th century pottery but they have added their own quirky sense of humor to their local life experiences. More information…
Whimsical teapots in the form of animals have been entertaining us at teatime for centuries. The Chinese exported figurative teapots to Europe along with the first shipments of tea in the 17th century. Gods and astrological symbols inspired everyday objects and teapots were fashioned as roosters, monkeys and dragons, a tradition that continues today with Chinese Yixing teapots. These novel designs were copied enthusiastically by English potters, and animal teapots became particularly popular during the Victorian era. The Minton pottery made Majolica teapots in the form of monkeys, birds, fish and even humans. The image of tea spouting from a bird’s beak seems so absurd that it is hard to imagine such pieces in use. Perhaps then, as now, they were interesting conversation pieces. Teapots through the ages can be enjoyed at the Art of Tea exhibition at WMODA. More information…
Our reputation for tea parties with a twist at WMODA has been enhanced with our latest gift. Two satirical teapots, depicting Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, have been donated by Joan Stacke Graham to the Art of Tea exhibition. Joan is the co-author of the classic reference book on Victorian Majolica which led her to her interest in all styles of whimsical teapots. “I love things which make me smile”, says Joan, and these teapots certainly do that!
The teapots were designed by British satirists, Roger Law and Peter Fluck, whose successful partnership as Luck & Flaw produced three dimensional caricatures of public figures. The BBC commissioned them to create a political satire TV show called Spitting Image using latex puppet caricatures. The hugely popular TV show ran from 1984 to 1996 and there were several spin-offs including a two-part special caricaturing Reagan which aired on NBC. The Reagan and Thatcher teapots were made as part of the Spitting Image merchandising program by Carlton Ware and Moorland Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent. Hall China in East Liverpool, Ohio also made a Reagan teapot.