Architectural modeled faience tiles


The popularity of glazed tiles and architectural faience during the 1930s and 40s has its origin in a number of stylistic revivals.

The use of colour in architecture was also prompted by the sensational discovery of Tutankhamen's treasure.

The prevailing taste for cenotaphs was extremely conservative. The Ceramic Studio was, at the time, the only pottery capable of or willing to produce architectural faience - a happy accident for Gladys Short and Joan Methley whose professed intention, on returning to South Africa, was to revive Italian Della Robbia ware. This interest was prompted by John Adams and reinforced by their studies in London. At the Victoria and Albert Museum they would have been exposed to one of the finest collections of European ceramics. Pieces made by Methley and Short on their return to South Africa include Della Robbia mirrors, and vessels, mainly plates and jars, showing the influence of Italian maiolica, Islamic painting and Spanish lustreware.

[Extracted, edited and expanded from Dr Melanie Hillebrand. 1991. The Woman of Olifantsfontein – South African Studio Ceramics. Cape Town: South African National Gallery.]