13 December 2013

Temporary Pottery Exhibition

Pottery: Grahamstown's Lost Industry
New Temporary Exhibition in the History Building

The History Department of the Albany Museum has recently put up a new temporary exhibition in the Foyer of the History Building. The exhibition titled Pottery: Grahamstown's Lost Industry will be up until June 2014.

The idea for this exhibition started with a query about what had happened to Grahamstown's pottery industry, since Grahamstown and its surrounds are so rich in clay deposits.

The clay has been used by both African and European people in the area and at times has been the subject of conflict. It is this clay that sparked one of Grahamstown’s biggest industries in the past – pottery. This industry played a role in employment, economy and the reknown of our little town. Grahamstown was a place where you could learn the skill, trade and artistry of pottery.

In 1985 Grahamstown produced 55% of South Africa’s kaolin used for ceramic manufacturing and as a composite in paper.  Although the Makana Municipality is currently working on a Kaolin Initiative to revive the use and production of our clay, it accounts for only 4% of South Africa’s national production and only a few commercial potters survive today.

This exhibition seeks to give the visitor an idea of the versatility of clay, an understanding on what clay is and how pottery is made from one of our richest resources. It also includes a section on the history of the Coombs Claypits and the various uses to which Grahamstown's clay has been put in the past. The exhibition focuses on the history of Grahamstown Potteries Ltd and other companies such as Hamburger Potteries and Continental China that operated in the area. It also includes exhibits of institutions that have taught pottery in the area and projects that looked at pottery as a developmental skill for the community. 

Research: B. September, A. van Wezel, F. Way- Jones
Contributors: S. Bax, I. Benyon, S. Burke (Carinus Art Centre), K. Camagu, N. Crozier, J. James, H. 
                   Kretzmann, P.Mntonintshi, R. Prevec
 Script writing & Co-ordination: A. van Wezel
 Editing: W. Jervois, F. Way-Jones
 Design & Layout: T. Tshobeni, A. van Wezel
 Set-Up: H. Kohl, S. Makana, N. Nonxuba, B. September, A. van Wezel, F. Way Jones

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