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The Three Studio Art Meander

“In these times – with our rushed lives, current politics and the realities of 2018 – very few people allow themselves to be swept away by the visual, by beauty,” Esra Bosch explains, slowly sipping coffee at her ceramic studio. “I often leave my clients to stroll around, with a cup of coffee or tea in hand, and to observe my work peacefully. They relish in the experience”.

From 29 August to 2 September, Esra will be exhibiting with her friends and family at the Three-Studio Art Meander; an exhibition alongside the other Bosch potters – Anton, Hanlie and Nina – and painters Rene Eloff and Wendy Malan. The event is open to members of the public from 9am to 6pm daily and will take place at Anton, Esra and Rene’s studios, situated close to each other on the Plaston road, on the outskirts of White River.

“People enjoy visiting a working studio,” Esra adds. “They can inspect the ovens kilns and see the work in progress”. The variety and the selection of work is also much larger at a studio than at a conventional exhibition or shop, another reason for art lovers to join the meander, which was first launched in 2016. The three studios – placed in natural scenery with gorgeous gardens and rustic beauty around every corner – are intimate, personal spaces located at the artists’ countryside homes. As Esra and I sit outside under a big tree, her four ridgeback dogs lying nearby, I realise how the serenity of her space reflects in her voice.

“My brother’s studio is exquisite – there is plenty of water and lovely gardens around – and they are proceeding full steam ahead with products completely different to mine. Anton is like my dad, Esias; he has done the full spectrum of ceramics – pottery, porcelain, stoneware, panels and gold to name a few. He has reached the status of a master potter”. The Bosch family has been working and living as ceramic artists in the Lowveld since 1961, when renowned potter and artist Esias Bosch established himself on the plot where Esra resides. He passed away in April 2010, at the age of 86.

Hanlie and Anton met while studying art at Pretoria Technikon. “Hanlie’s art is exceptional and she paints, draws, sculpts and decorates beautifully,” Esra says, smiling broadly. “Just when they were married, they lived in this little flat here,” she adds while pointing to the small space filled with character. Esias built it for them and Anton worked there for many years, while his father showed him the ropes to ceramics.

Esra’s dear friend Wendy Malan currently lives in Cape Town, but she lived in Sabie for twenty years and has a loyal following in the Lowveld. Her work – acrylic on canvas – lies close to Esra’s heart. “She is a narrative painter and her work tells a story. There is a process involved with the person looking at her art,” Esra continues. She believes that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and that everyone reads a story differently; Wendy’s work gives the viewer an opportunity to be swept away with her tales.

“And then there is Rene Eloff, she does a wide spectrum of art – water and oil paintings, monoprints, etching and collages,” Esra adds, as she describes how talented her next-door neighbour is with a paintbrush in hand.  She loves painting birds, especially owls (a personal favourite of mine) but they aren’t exactly like we know them – they are experimental, vibrant and full of colour.

Nina Bosch, Anton and Hanlie’s daughter, is passionate about her individually hand-made porcelain jewelry, painted with 18 carat gold lustre and finished with sterling silver earring posts and chains. “She truly has a prodigious eye for it,” Esra continues. “If I think about Nina’s work, I imagine glistening and dancing items – and there is a lot of technology involved in making them”.  While on a work related trip to Design Indaba in 2017, I bumped into Nina in Cape Town – she was exhibiting her intricate work as an Emerging Creative and seeing a Lowvelder’s art revered by an international audience made me proud to call the area my home too.

Esra describes her own work – platters, bowls, plates, tiles, oil lamps, door knobs and more – as decorative and functional ware. “My dad gave me advice to keep it simple and to only use two clay recipes,” she explains. She has a small team, only two other women assist her in the studio, but they are personally trained by Esra. “This process is a mixture of the romantic and working at the salt mines,” she describes laughing.

She started with ceramics in the 1980’s while making jewelry and brooches, but her dad encouraged her to go bigger. He helped her with formulas and recipes and even until today, when she faces a problem, she simply stands still for a moment and thinks about how much information he shared with her. “And then I can’t help but acknowledge and thank him once more, with great appreciation”.

Esra says the idea for the Three-Studio art Meander came with age and experience. “The exhibition flows from viewing to conversations; and as the artist you can see how people view your work,” she adds, finishing her coffee. “We all have these wonderful spaces and it is a privilege and an experience to interact with local visitors and clients”.

Please see map for directions, and for all queries contact: Esra Bosch 082 823 7591 / Andre Eva Bosch 0834007062 /Anton Bosch 083 456 3272 / Hanlie Bosch 082 321 4318

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