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On a sheep farm in the Eastern Cape you’ll find a pottery studio that uplifts people through creativity and beauty.
The founder is a young woman named Elize van Aardt, who has married into the long line of Van Aardts who have lived in this area between Cookhouse and Cradock for many generations.
After studying ceramics at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, Van Aardt brought her skills back home, experimenting with mixed media fused in fire – clay, glass and metal.
Her farm studio has trained many people and now provides permanent full-time employment to previously unskilled women.
Here functional items with a decorative twist are produced – milk jugs and platters and bowls with beautiful roses, for example. Recently, a range of brightly coloured cups and saucers was developed.
'It’s mostly organically inspired, with slightly wonky shapes,' says Van Aardt. 'Our work has a kind of French country look.'
Other popular items from Elizwe Ceramics include wall tiles – individually created pieces of art that glow with colour.
Van Aardt is committed to sharing her skills and knowledge to uplift others – giving classes on mosaics and teaching disabled children how to create pottery at a school in Port Elizabeth. She also offers pottery workshops for children and adults.
Visitors to Fairworld Farm just outside Cookhouse are very welcome, but works of Elizwe Ceramics can also be found further afield, in Cape Town, Robertson and Port Elizabeth. Its work is also stocked in Karoo décor shops like Windmill Junction in Graaff-Reinet, The Studio in Bedford, and Bliss & Bloom in Cradock.