n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - "Re-presentations" of Southern San rock art on Drostdy ware pottery from the 1950s




South African commercial and production pottery is a highly neglected field of research. In this article I focus on reproductions of San rock paintings on domestic crockery produced by Grahamstown Pottery's Drostdy Ware in the 1950s. At first glance, Drostdy's wares appear to resemble clichéd copies of Helen Tongue's (1909) reproductions. It is argued that Drostdy's wares offer a partial reflection into the complex, evolving and frequently contradictory public sentiment of the 1950s regarding the provenance of San rock art; its ; its public profile in the media, literature, popular fiction, scientific literature, the arts, festivals and exhibitions. This article contends that Drostdy's wares both espoused and contested contemporary realities. The interstitial agency of Drostdy's wares was asserted via the triangulation of textual markings on their bases; iconography and design; and compounded by their relative quantitative "weight". These wares challenge the political neutrality or complicity of much contemporary South African art and craft production.


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