Collectible treasures on display at the Nellie

The Ardmore exhibition, presented in association with Christoff at the Mount Nelson, is not to be missed.

By Debbie Hathway
Ardmore, Mount Nelson, March 2023. Photo: David Harrison

A journey into Ardmore celebrates resilience and evolution and the natural inspiration that abounds in Africa. The recent exhibition of jaw-dropping creations at what is affectionately known as the Nellie, on the periphery of the Cape Town CBD, was evidence of the work developed by Ardmore artists and founder Fée Halsted and her family during the pandemic.

Inspired by African art and nature, the Ardmore collection showcased a selection of the incredible fauna and flora on the continent as visualised by a talented team of ceramic artists from the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. The Thanda fabric collection was also launched, featuring the colours and designs dreamed up for a recent family wedding. It is indeed an ode to love.

Dominant shades of gold, black, cream and white provide the backdrop for images reflecting nature’s bounty emblazoned on ceramics and sculpted into exhibition pieces. Among the endangered and emblematic animals featured were the pangolins, arguably the show’s stars.

The Geometric vs Organic Pangolins piece is a striking juxtaposition of these mammals sculpted by Slu Mlambo and Painted by Sthabiso Hadebe. The colour palette starkly emphasises the unadorned pangolins and their favourite termite food. At the same time, the intricately painted butterflies hint at feathers, shells and insects, symbolising the plethora of life on Earth.

On a side note, this enigmatic creature, which holds the secrets of 85-million years of evolution, is the most illegally trafficked mammal on Earth (even more than rhino) as they are poached for their scales believed to have medicinal values. Lapalala Wilderness in the Waterberg Region of the Limpopo province is working with the African Pangolin Working Group (APWG) to assist with the soft release of rehabilitated Tennick’s pangolin – the species more commonly found in Southern Africa.

Meanwhile, if you decided to undertake an Ardmore journey, look out for the Pangolin Vessel by Relebohile Tjakata, the Zebra and Leopard Bowl by Allan Ndluvo and the Elephants Under the Kiepersol Tree painted by Nondumiso Mfuphi. The Sable and Roan Urn is also a showstopper.

Lastly, there is the Bonnie Collection, a celebration of Bonnie Ntshalintshali’s life, which also honours past artists and their contribution to the Ardmore journey over almost four decades.

Lovers of the outdoors, nature and art

Art and nature are passions shared by Christopher Greig of Christoff, whose jewellery boutique occupies a prime position at the Nellie. His collaboration with Ardmore for this exhibition is the continuation of a working relationship that began in 1991. According to a joint statement, “Ardmore’s journey is intertwined with a myriad of partnerships, friendships and muses. Christopher Greig is all three to Ardmore. He brings excellence to all that he does. Both Ardmore and Christoff embody luxury, uniqueness, and evolution, not to mention the resilience needed to continue our art odyssey.”

The renowned artist, designer and luxury jeweller is also a member of the family-owned Charles Greig jewellers, whose history dates to 1899 – the same year the Nellie opened its doors.

The famous pink walls and the grand entrance of Cape Town’s Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel, is a spectacular sight any time of year, but in the temperate months of Autumn, it takes on a special glow. You can’t beat the pleasure of wandering through the magnificent gardens, enjoying al fresco high tea on the lawns or savouring cool drinks over a languid brunch on the terrace.

If you enter through the dark wood-panelled reception on the opposite side of the property, with Table Mountain looming above, you’ll appreciate the sense of style that has delighted guests for almost 125 years. A visit to the Nellie is simply an invitation to linger longer.

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