By Kobus Venter
Dr. F. G. E. Nilant, of the Department of History of Fine Arts, University of Pretoria, South Africa once said “In Europe the factory in which an object has been made is an eminently important consideration when people choose porcelain or earthenware. People feel proud to have in their possession a piece made in some world-famous pottery or other. In South Africa the circumstances are quite different. People are not only indifferent to, but quite unaware of, the various potteries in existence”.
Little has changed towards locally manufactured ceramics.
The rapid urbanisation that accompanied the South African economic boom of the 1950s inflated the costs of urban residential property. This led to the building of smaller homes and apartment blocks. It is speculated that ceramic items were ideally suited to serve as wall decorations in smaller, as well as lower-income homes. Ceramic wall-plates could be used as substitutes for paintings, as they were probably relatively inexpensive in comparison to framed original works of art or commercial reproductions. It is argued that ceramic decorative items had various practical advantages over two- and three-dimensional artworks. Due to their glazed finish, they could easily be cleaned and the variety of colors and images meant that ceramics could be used to decorate almost every room in the home. The South African ceramics industry, which was initiated in the post-war economic boom, and which at its peak included between thirty-two and thirty-nine factories and studios, was virtually defunct by 1965. The ceramics industry experienced a decline from approximately 1957 due to the substantial losses of income which were experienced as a result of the relaxation of import controls by the South African government and the ‘dumping’ of inexpensive Asian and American ceramics on the South African market.
Source: ‘Scorched Earth’ by Wendy Gers.
🌸Bottom line: There is a finite supply and that means increased value🌸