2018 Ardmore Exhibition

Anyone searching for evidence that romance is flourishing would have been well advised to attend the recent Ardmore Ceramic Art exhibition at Hyde Park Corner, staged in inimitable style by Charles Greig Jewellers.

Given that Charles Greig traces its roots to a journey to Africa, the theme of this year’s Ardmore exhibition – Safari – could not have been fitting. But this was not the modern safari of digital cameras and by-the-minute itineraries; rather, this was a homage to an earlier, more elegant time.

A time when a safari truly was a journey: a voyage across a continent and into one’s self. A journey guided by the maps of the heart and the rhythms of nature. Modern travellers might consider the “Out of Africa” style to be cumbersome, with its campaign trunks, crystal glassware and gramophones.

But these impedimenta – the essential trappings of a bygone style – belied a certain lightness of spirit; a joyfulness in discovering things both new and ancient. This was reflected in the centrepiece of the exhibition, a wonderful Ardmore hippopotamus with a beguilingly enigmatic smile.

In a nod to traditional creation myths, this gracefully lumbering beast bore on his back a native canoe, the crew of which were equipped not with paddles but signposts each bearing the name of an evocative safari destination. Amboseli. Kilimanjaro. Singita.

Depending on the angle from which you approached the ceramic hippo, you would be sent in a different direction by the signs festooning his back – much as early African explorers would follow a whim or a bird on the wing, and discover wonders that way.

With a 1955 Series One Land Rover on display in the Hyde Park Corner car park, visitors to the exhibition instantly knew that they too had embarked on a journey. The haunting notes of a Mozart clarinet concerto drifted through the air at the fabulous launch event just as they once did at picnics beneath spreading umbrella thorn trees on the golden savannah.

Each piece of Ardmore Ceramic Art, handcrafted by master ceramicists and painters, tells its own story. It’s a story made up of many strands, from the natural history of the creatures it represents to the biography of the artist.

Exhibition-goers could also view and purchase items from the new range of Ardmore fabrics – a wonderful extension of this most whimsical brand into decorating both people and places with their singular characters and themes.