This is a retrospective selection of Anton van der Merwe’s wood fired pottery produced at Starways Arts Centre, Hogsback. Also exhibited are pots fired in Starways’ kiln produced by potters inspired by Anton’s work and research: Vale van der Merwe, Liyanda Mafika, Gwyneth Lloyd, Carrie van de Langenberg, Madeleine Spinks and Professor John Steele.

A range of large and medium sized vases, platters, bowls and tea bowls exhibiting the beauty of wood fired glazes drawn from Oriental traditions and combined with clay and materials from the Eastern Cape fired with local wood to 1320°. Using the kiln frame from the old Hamburg pottery in Grahamstown, Anton built a down-draft kiln now entering its 103rd firing. His legacy of clay and glaze recipes is demonstrated in exhibited work by his daughter, former apprentice, wife, niece, daughter-in-law and valued colleague Professor John Steele who attends every firing. Examples and photographs from some of Starways’ regular collectors are included to indicate the flow of the rare wood fired traditional ash and flame effects on finely worked vessels. The names of ancient glaze recipes and oxides describe the features of each pot – Tenmoku, Shino, Chun, Rutile, Celadon, Titanium, Copper, Cobalt and Chrome.

The exhibition is an overview of a master potter’s life dedicated to sharing his passion for exploring the mysteries of fire and clay.

Genre: Fine Art

Medium: Ceramics

Duration: 8 – 31 July 2021

Sadly we are unable to welcome you to this exhibition in person. Instead, we invite you to enjoy the immersive online 3D exhibit.


PROFESSOR JOHN STEELE connected profoundly with Anton’s pottery and brought his work to public attention though articles.  His experience as a studio potter in Drakensburg Rhodes village, a pottery manager in Mthatha and Associate Professor at Walter Sisulu University has been invaluable to Starways’ pottery since 2018. His wise advice and enduring friendship is valued highly by the Starways potters.


VALE VAN DER MERWE is Anton’s daughter. “As a child I spent plenty of time playing in my father’s exciting and messy studio. It was only in later life, though, that I realised how much the versatility of this craft appealed to me. Clay work is now my path and I am eternally grateful to Anton for introducing me to the wonderful world of Ceramics.”


MADELEINE SPINKS is Anton’s niece. “I learned my craft at school and as a teenager had the privilege of an apprenticeship with my uncle Anton. I have found pottery an important outlet for emotions and an antidote to screen time.  I am now part of CUP Ceramics in Herefordshire, sharing facilities with the local tribe of potters.”


CARRIE VAN DE LANGENBERG is Anton’s daughter-in-law. She is a Designer and Theatre Practitioner currently working for Netflix through whom she won an Emmy Award. Her Arts education was at Wits University and she takes up an annual residency at Starways Artrs Centre to explore the intricacies of wood fire glazing.


LIYANDA MAFIKA apprenticed himself to Anton straight from school and has become essential to every aspect of Starways Arts Centre’s  infrastructure. He has become an expert clay maker and takes charge of the processes involved in packing and firing Starways’ wood fire kiln. His pots are now displayed in fine collections throughout South Africa.


GWYNETH LLOYD is Anton’s wife and co-founder of Starways Arts Centre. Together they envisaged an Arts Community teaching and promoting performing, visual and audiovisual arts and craft. Gwyneth has been able to draw on her early pottery training in London and combine it with her career as an award winning opera singer and teacher.