South African studio ceramics, c.1950s : the Kalahari Studio, Drostdy Ware and Crescent Potteries.
The oeuvre of the Kalahari Studio (Cape Town), Drostdy Ware (a division of Grahamstown Pottery, Grahamstown) and Crescent Potteries (Krugersdorp) is investigated within the historical context of the 1950s, a watershed period that witnessed crucial developments in South African cultural and political history. This dissertation elucidates the historical development, key personnel, the ceramics, as well as relevant technical information related to the Kalahari Studio, Drostdy Ware and Crescent Potteries. This dissertation analyses the broader socio-political and ideological paradigms that framed South African art-making, as well as the international design trends that influenced the local studio ceramics sector. The establishment and demise of the South African studio ceramics industry and requests for tariff protection were considered within this context. Significant primary research was conducted into the present status of South African studio ceramics from the 1950s in the collections of our heritage institutions. Wares of all three of the studios reveal a predilection for figurative imagery, especially images of indigenous African women and iconography derived from reproductions of Southern San parietal art. Imagery of African women is considered within the framework of the native study genre in South African painting, sculpture and photography from 1800-1950 and Africana ceramics from 1910-1950. Images of San parietal art are investigated within their historical context of a growing public and academic interest in the Bushmen and a surge in publications containing reproductions of San parietal art. Some images of African women and San parietal art conform to pejorative and theoretically problematic modernist cannons of the'other', while some are subversive and undermine the dominant pictorial and ideological artistic conventions.