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Komani-Karoo
Graaff-Reinet’s acclaimed ceramic artist

GRAAFF-REINET is home to a humble ceramic artist whose commissions are not only sold locally, but grace places like the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl.

Thirty years ago, Marion Mangold was trained in ceramic design by the renowned Spanish tile artist, Lorenzo Checa, who at the time lived in Henley-on-Klip.

Graaff-Reinet’s acclaimed ceramic artist, Marion Mangold. Photo:SUPPLIED

After working in corporate insurance in Johannesburg for 18 years, Mangold finally decided to settle down in Graaff-Reinet in February 2018, pursuing her love for ceramic art full-time.

“I don’t work with raw clay, but decorate and paint ready glazed tiles and crockery,” Mangold explained.

“I like to work in themes, like the Karoo wildlife series I designed myself, and the Graaff-Reinet series, consisting of well-known landmarks like Spandaukop, Reinet House and the NG Kerk.”

Reinventing one’s art and keeping up with trends are important if an artist wishes his or her work to remain relevant, Mangold believes.

“Fashions have changed. Decorative tiles in bathrooms are no longer fashionable; people now opt for natural and polished looks.

“Nowadays I do a lot of giftware, fireplaces and signage, like house numbers.”

When Komani-Karoo Express dropped in on Mangold, the kitchen table was stacked with uniquely designed commemorative tiles for a girls’ school reunion in Komani.

“We are very lucky here in Graaff-Reinet to source old oregon pine wood from builders. A local carpenter kindly planes them, after which they are framed so they can be hung on a wall.

From plain ceramic item to beautifully crafted piece of art is a long and complicated manufacturing process which includes designing and drawing, computer graphics, silkscreening, kiln firing, hand painting and re-firing.

“I use a specially imported ceramic onglaze,” Mangold said, admitting that her favourite part of the process was finally sitting down to printed items and doing hours and hours of hand painting.

“I am inspired by ideas from overseas catalogues, and also enjoy designing my own unique works. I like to be innovative and creative, and enjoy the freedom of creating larger works like murals,” she says.

Mangold has worked with architects and interior designers to revamp a number of Sun International hotels in Swaziland and Lesotho.

Nowadays her giftware sells well at various retail outlets, like Woodstock & Willow in Bedford, where her beautifully colourful, framed replica Turkish tiles are quite popular.

The Waarehouse Arts and Crafts Gallery in Bathurst stocks Mangold’s equally popular range of Portuguese tiles and tea trays, and some weekends one can find her at the Graaff-Reinet Community Market.

A typical artist, whose mind keeps racing with new ideas, Mangold whips out picture after picture of projects she hopes to tackle next.

“I am a member of the Eastern Cape Potters Association, and hope to collaborate with some colleagues in future projects as well,” she says.

For information, Contact Marion on 083 341 222 or email cretangoldceramics@gmail.com.

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