In my line of work, I’m privileged to work with some of the most beautiful fabrics and wallpapers currently on the market but occasionally a new collection is launched which stops me in my tracks. And most recently it was the new Ardmore Collection of wallpapers from Cole & Son (www.cole-and-son.com) which took my breath away.
The inspiration for the collection came from their Creative Director, Shauna Dennison who first discovered Ardmore Ceramics in a small gallery in upstate New York where she was struck by their whimsical and exuberant style. The extraordinary pieces of animals, people and vases all had their basis in classical ceramic work but Ardmore had taken that traditional notion of working with clay and turned it upside down. Each piece is a celebration of African flora and fauna and is rendered with extraordinary detail and humour. Its heritage and narrative is rooted in South African tradition and culture and it is this shared value for craft and craftmanship which so appealed to Shauna.
Acclaimed as "modern day collectibles" by Christie’s auction house, the work of Ardmore's artists has won them numerous awards. Their ceramics are colourful, quirky, and vibrant and celebrate Africa’s elephants, rhinos, big cats, crocodiles, monkeys, and exotic flowers, as well as the distinctive patterns of Zulu beadwork and woven basket ware. As Ardmore founder Fée Halsted says, “For 31 years the Ardmore artists and I have toiled away in KwaZulu-Natal creating fanciful ceramics that have provided an income to feed many a family. The fact that Cole & Son discovered and chose our South African designs and artistry to place on their new collection is an honour and we pride ourselves on being the first African designers to have achieved such a prestigious accolade!”
Following a visit to the Ardmore studio to discover more about these incredible pieces Shauna’s task then, along with the other enormously talented wallpaper designers at Cole & Son, was to take a 3 dimensional artform and to translate it into a 2 dimensional medium. The Cole & Son designers worked closely with the Ardmore studio and once they had decided which elements of the ceramics they were going to reinterpret they set about creating the most beautiful hand painted designs which could be translated into a repeating 2-dimensional pattern. This new collection features a range of pictorial wallpapers and borders that add a new dimension to the Cole & Son library. Hung on the wall they would will add a vibrancy to any interior, enough to take your breath away!