David Walters Ceramics and Pottery
Extract by David Walters of David Walters Ceramics fame
Jackie and I share many spurious connections. Hartford House was built by my great grandfather's brother - my great grandfather was Sir Frederick Moor, the last Prime Minister of Natal. Everybody in Natal is related to me in some way... so thats exactly why I hide in Franschhoek!
When Michelle and I started off the Midlands Meander all those years ago - 1982/3 - we would never have dreamed that it would develop into the vast network it is today. We wanted to promote 'our' beautiful part of the world - people used to rush past the Midlands on their way to Durban, and of course they missed the best bits of Natal. Also, we believed in the quality of the artists and craftsmen working away in isolation - we invited them to 'network' by advertising together, and just look at what happened. We were also very aware of the growing numbers of AIDS sufferers, and the only work available to them was strenuous farm labour. What was needed was gentler, better paid work that catered to the many gifts and strengths of the Zulu people.
Craftsmanship of the highest order: Female potters have been potting beautiful clay Ukhamba for beer making for over 2000 years in Natal, and there are skills like wood carving, basketry, knitting and weaving in abundance. Of course, people forget, but those were the days before home computers, and Michelle and I literally hand-wrote every one of the envelopes of the thousands of invitations that we sent out to people to attend the first Midlands Meander exhibitions. Our studio at Caversham Mill was already up and running at that stage, but we were certain that, by inviting people to come to exhibitions at each of the Meander studios and to stop and eat at the several good hotels in the area, we would do even better business. And we did!