Category Archives: Winter in Swellendam

Winter 2022 at Bukkenburg

Hello and warm winter greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam.

Porcelain bowl – wheel thrown, faceted, turned and tooled.
Copper glaze, reduction fired to 1320 degrees C in our oil kiln.

Overall mixed blessings this winter as the country emerges from more than 800 days of varying degrees of Covid-19 lockdown, and now ongoing nation-wide power cuts affecting everyone and everything.

Multi-layered drama in the social, political and economic world as well.

Fiscal shrike on a fencing dropper in the garden.

We are thankful to have been busy in the studio lately and there is commissioned work in hand to take us through to the spring.

Winter is usually quiet here in the Southern Cape, and as usual we are using the time to get through the outstanding ordered work and also to build up a new collection of work to have in the gallery for the coming spring and summer months.

Pippa in one of her unusual, usual spots

We require at least 14 hours of uninterrupted electricity supply to power the fan on our big oil kiln to complete a firing.

Stage 6 load shedding has just begun country wide. This means that the power will be cut for about 9 1/2 hours a day at different times until further notice.

The house and some light equipment in the studio are on a backup system so we can remain productive to a point.

We’re making use of these days of load-shedding to get this blog and some other tasks done, in addition to getting pots made for the next firings.

We sincerely hope that those who are waiting for their pots will not have to wait too much longer.

Here are some pictures of what we’ve been up to recently.

Swellendam is so well situated on the N2 national road, halfway between Cape Town and the Garden Route, and we are delighted to have become an essential stop for family, friends, and customers old and new as they make their way through this part of the country.

In addition to this, we are so grateful for the continued support from people in Swellendam and surrounds.

In the pictures below:
On the left – James with his cousins Sarie, Paul, Simone, and Juliette. From Cape Town and Germany.
On right – With an old school colleague Alan Whiteside from Norwich, UK reacquainting after 52 years!
Below – a lovely visit from our niece Alice and her husband Nate who live in London.

Some tools of the trade and a productive mess

‘Swellendam – On The Way To Everywhere’

For the past few years Swellendam has been without an organised, co-ordinated tourism plan or strategy, and we appreciate what is being done by several hard working individuals in their efforts to keep the profile of the town and region visible and prominent.

Ripening canola fields and the Langeberg Mountains – winter in the Swellendam District of the Overberg Region in the Western Cape.
Stoneware platter – 47cm diameter

The big kiln is loaded with pots for the first of two bisque firings, waiting now for the power grid to stabilise.

And these will be in the the next firing …

We will be sending out information in due course about upcoming events in which we will be involved as we approach spring and summer.
Just two for now:

  • Our Potter’s Lunch and Open Studio in September ?
  • Swellendam Open Gardens over the first weekend in November.

Workshops & Classes

With the recent removal of all Covid-19 regulations, we are going to be starting some workshops and teaching sessions.
Please have a look at the ‘Workshops Page’ : Click Here

We’re hoping that the pair of breeding Spotted Eagle Owls who have been nesting nearby for the past few years will be doing so again this winter and coming spring.

Our self-catering guest cottage shown above is available for an overnight stay or longer.
Details and pictures on the ‘Accommodation Page’ Click Here


Wishing you all the best

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – June 2022

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453

Please visit and ‘like’ our various Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David

Winter 2021 at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

Winter in the Breede River Valley near Swellendam

Mid-winter greetings from Bukkenburg Pottery Studio in Swellendam

In this winter newsletter we will be showing some of our ongoing activities here in Swellendam including:

– New and ongoing work in the studio, completing outstanding orders and preparing fresh and exciting new pots, for display in our gallery in the coming spring.

– Upcoming valuation days with Strauss & Co, on 13 and 14 July.

– A link to the video of our slideshow with commentary on ClayChat, showing a photo record of our journey over the past 48 years.

Feedback on the launch of David’s brother John’s book ‘When They Came For Me – The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’, including links to videos of the virtual launch and recent interviews.


Cape Robin

Strauss & Co – Valuation Days in SWELLENDAM

This year’s Valuation Days will be a bit different to previous events in that Vanessa and Ian from Strauss & Co will take bookings to visit people at their homes to view the items that they would like valued.

Tuesday 13 & Wednesday 14 July

Booking is essential

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
8 Hermanus Steyn Street, Swellendam

and at the homes of people who would like to have their items valued at home.


To Book an Appointment:
Please phone Vanessa – 072 445 4717

Cape Weaver
Stoneware bowl – wheel thrown, turned and faceted.
Copper red glaze. Reduction fired to 1 320 degrees C.


A short while back we were invited by Rika Herbst to prepare a slideshow with commentary for ClayChat, covering our 48 years of working together.
A video of that slideshow is now at this link: CLICK HERE


‘When They Came For Me –
The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’

For those who missed the online launch and want to see some of it, and those who would like to see it again, here are the various YouTube links, and video links to other interviews with John about the book:

Video recording of the live streamed book launch event:

Video replay of the Daily Maverick Webinar: John Schlapobersky in conversation with Judge Dennis Davis:

Video of the interview with John Schlapobersky on ‘Die Groot Ontbyt’ on Kyknet:

Radio 702 Podcast – John Schlapobersky in conversation with Gushwell Brooks:

The book is now generally available and is published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in South Africa and Berghahn Books in the UK.

So many chameleons in the garden this winter …

Accommodation at the Studio.

The Potter’s Cottage at Bukkenburg.

Our self-catering guest cottage, shown above, is available for an overnight stay or longer, pictures and details are on the Accommodation page of this website.
COVID-19 protocols are in place.

Winter is a special season in our part of the world, with spectacular landscapes – mountains, farmlands, and so much more ..!

Fields of ripening Canola and winter wheat beneath the spectacular Langberg Mountains near Swellendam.
Wheel thrown stoneware jug – tenmoku double glaze with wax resist.


Our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have become essential tools in our working and social lives.

Please visit and ‘like’ our Social Media links:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David

We now have a new e-mail address:
Please add it to your address books, the old one will be phased out over time.

Part of the salad buffet from an earlier Potter’s Lunch.

Our next ‘Potter’s Lunch and Open Studio’ is likely to take place towards the end of September – details will follow
The studio, gallery and garden are open and working daily, and visitors are welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.
COVID-19 protocols are in place.

Wishing you all the best in good health and safety – please take care.

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – Swellendam
July – 2021

WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453

Invitation to a Virtual Book Launch

We are pleased to invite you to join us for two online events over the next two weeks to launch the book
‘When They Came For Me – The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’
by John Schlapobersky, David’s brother.

The book launch took place on Sunday 13 June 2021 in London, exactly 52 years since John’s arrest in Johannesburg.
Here is a link to the video of the launch, please click on the small image of the book cover below:

Please click on the image above to open the video of the book launch.

The first event will be a
Webinar with
Daily Maverick

In which John will be in discussion with Judge Dennis Davis

Date: Wednesday 9 June
Time: 12:00 SAST

Click on the sunflower

You will receive confirmation by e-mail after completing the form.


The second event will be the Virtual Book Launch and celebration on Zoom, filmed and streamed live from London.

When They Came For Me
The Hidden Diary of an Apartheid Prisoner
John R. Schlapobersky

The author, John Schlapobersky, and publishers
Jonathan Ball Publishers and Berghahn Books 

Invite you to join us ONLINE for a

Virtual Book Launch and Celebration
Filmed and streamed live from Phoenix Theatre, King Alfred School, London

Sunday 13th June 2021

2.30 – 4.00 pm B.S.T.

Hannah Sherbersky and Marian Prinsley
Author’s family

Justice Albie Sachs
Formerly Justice, South Africa’s Constitutional Court

Gillian Slovo
Author, playwright, formerly President, British PEN in discussion with
John Schlapobersky

Marion Berghahn and Jeremy Boraine  –  publishers

Click on the sunflower

You will receive a registration form for completion, giving you access to the
zoom event

John Schlapobersky, a student in South Africa, was arrested in 1969 for opposing apartheid, tortured through sleep deprivation and eventually deported. In solitary confinement he wrote secretly about the struggle for survival. This exquisitely written memoir is based on two hidden diaries – one in his Bible and the other on toilet paper. He reflects on the singing of the condemned prisoners and the poetry, songs and texts that saw him through his ordeal. The sense of hope through which he transformed his life guides his continuing work as a psychotherapist in the rehabilitation of others. Apartheid and its resistance come to life in this vital historical document, of its time and for our own.

John is a leading psychotherapist and author based in London. In 1985 he was a Founding Trustee of Freedom From Torture, a human rights charity. 
His publications include From The Couch To The Circle: Group-Analytic Psychotherapy In Practice (Routledge 2016), winner of the American Group Psychotherapy Association’s Alonso Award in 2017, now in translation to other language editions.
‘An exquisitely written memoir about human endurance, survival, repair and transcendence.’ 
Justice Albie Sachs

‘An intriguing story of endurance and survival. A reminder of times, and the people who resisted them, that should never be forgotten.’ 
Gillian Slovo
‘One of the most vivid, intimate and sustained accounts yet, of the brutality that apartheid’s torturers unleashed – a remarkable book about our inhumanity and the resilience of the human spirit.’ 
Jonathan Jansen, Professor, University of Stellenbosch
‘The tale of an ordinary young man swept one day from his life into hell, testimony to the wickedness a political system let loose in its agents and, above all, an intimate account of how a man became a healer.’ 
Jonny Steinberg, Professor, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford
John has made surviving into…an act of creative protest (and) a means to bear witness for the many who did not survive.’ 
Jack Saul, Director, International Trauma Studies Program, New York.

To order the book online outside South Africa, visit the publisher’s website:
Berghahn Books
using code JSBOOK for a 35% launch discount.

To order the book online inside Southern Africa,
(including South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique) visit the publisher’s website:
Jonathan Ball Publishers


“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”

German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)


We sincerely hope that some of you will be able to join in either one of these events, or perhaps both.
There is a third event being considered, to take pace in Swellendam.
Details will follow soon with our winter newsletter.

Our studio, gallery and garden in Swellendam are open and working daily, and visitors are always welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.

Wishing you all the best in good health and safety.

David and Felicity
Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
May – 2021

WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453

Potter’s Lunch & Spring Open Studio 2020

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage, Swellendam

Sunset at Bukkenburg in early spring.

Welcome to Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Swellendam.

In truly strange times – a year like no other ..!

Along with everyone else on the planet, we are slowly and very cautiously beginning to emerge into a different kind of world after more than five months living under various levels of government enforced Covid-19 ‘Lockdown’

We have been deeply affected by the extent of suffering and destruction that this ‘Global Pandemic’ has brought to the world in which we all live, and we are grateful to have made it through the winter, and relieved to see and feel signs of spring with its new growth.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who have in one or other way supported our efforts over the pasts few months.
Your support for our work has helped us to sustain ourselves during the months when the studio had to be closed.

There are those who bought pots from us online, others whose ordered and commissioned work, both large and small, has provided great encouragement and hope for the immediate post ‘lockdown’ period.

The ordered work is in process of glazing and decorating in preparation for several glaze firings.

Felicity at the entrance to the studio with a group of big wheel-thrown stoneware Amphorae made for De Trafford Wines in Stellenbosch.


And, as if the Coronavirus Pandemic and government enforced lockdown is not enough, once again the country is in the grip of ongoing nation-wide electricity power cuts.
Recently we’ve been experiencing up to three cuts a day, with each lasting up to 2 ½ hours.
We don’t know how long it will go on like this, and trying to dodge these bouts of what’s called ‘loadshedding’ really plays havoc with any ideas that we may have of getting any consistent work done at the moment.


It is heartening to feel the beginnings of the return of visitors to the town, we’ve had some encouraging early spring bookings in the cottage, and we’re experiencing a slow but steady stream of visitors to the gallery and studio.

It will no doubt be a long time before foreign visitors begin returning to this part of the world.

With the recent relaxing of lockdown restrictions to Level 2 in the country, we are looking forward to the tourism, hospitality and restaurant industries getting going again in our region and further afield.

So much momentum has been lost over these past months with businesses closing and so many people losing their jobs and livelihoods.

We’re hopeful that new and innovative networks will emerge soon to stimulate some creative energy, direction and growth.


We have found the available digital communications and media reassuring during the lock-down period, and like so many, we have been able to stay in touch with family, friends and customers around the country and the world.

Our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have become essential tools in our working and social lives.

Please visit and ‘like’ our Social Media links:

Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David

As a result of all of this and as an added possible way forward, we are thinking about offering online tutoring and/or workshops online in the near future.
Please let us know if this is something that would interest you.

‘Potter’s Lunch and Spring Open Studio’ – a warm invitation.

It gives us pleasure and some added purpose at this time to let you all know that we are planning to host our annual ‘Potter’s Lunch and Spring Open Studio’ again, beginning over the Heritage Day Long Weekend from 24 to 27 September and ongoing into the spring and summer.

Our well-known and usually well-supported buffet ‘Potter’s Lunch‘ will be on Sunday 27th September with the necessary ‘Covid-19’ measures in place.
Lunch bookings are essential – (numbers will be limited)
Tel: 082 342 5453
The menu and cost will be available soon.

1st October marks 24 years since we moved to Swellendam.

A welcome spring visitor in the garden …


and in the studio …


We live in a most beautiful part of the country and are fortunate to be able to look on as the changing seasons impact on the diverse and extensive local agricultural industry.

From what we have seen on our outrides into the district, and what we hear, the harvest this year is looking particularly good, which is likely to have a beneficial impact on the town’s economy.

They will begin harvesting the early crops within the next month or so, and the harvest season goes on well into November and sometimes even later.

The farmers in our area concentrate largely on Canola (rapeseed), various grains such as wheat, oats and barley; also sheep and dairy, among others.

Their contribution to the country’s food supply is significant.

Canola and wheat fields beneath the Langeberg Mountains near Swellendam.
Blue crane – low flying in the Overberg near Swellendam.
Late afternoon and the gravel road home …


Accommodation at the Studio

At the beginning of ‘lockdown’ in March, all accommodation facilities had to close unless one had a permit to accommodate ‘essential workers’.
All travel came to a stop as did all local and international tourism.
We had bookings for accommodation in our guest cottage for many months ahead, and suddenly they were all cancelled.

We are glad to say that the cottage is once again available for an overnight stay or longer.

For further information please have a look at our accommodation page where there are pictures and a full description of what is available.
Please click HERE

The Covid-19 accommodation measures are being observed.

Swellendam Winter School

Also planned for spring are our Clay Explorations Pottery Courses as part of the Swellendam Winter School.
After the most enjoyable courses on last year’s program, we were looking forward to the Winter School running again this year.
Covid-19 put a hold on all of that, and now it is being revived for the spring.

A wide range of courses are on offer this spring, and for all info and bookings, please visit Swellendam Winter School.

A few pictures from last year’s Clay Explorations courses on the Swellendam Winter School:

Cape white-eye on half an orange outside the studio.


As the winter and severe lockdown recede, and the weather begins to warm up, here’s hoping to seeing some of you out this way during the coming spring and summer.

The countryside in the Overberg region of the Western Cape is looking exceptional right now, accommodation is abundant in Swellendam, and the restaurants are operating.

It’s just the best time to take to the road and travel the countryside – for all sorts of reasons ..!

The studio, gallery and garden are open and working daily, and visitors are welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.

Wishing you all the best in good health and safety as we learn to navigate what has become known as the ‘new normal’ in this post ‘lockdown’ environment of the Covid conscious world.

Please take care of yourselves and each other ..!

David and Felicity
Spring – 2020

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
8 Hermanus Steyn Street – Swellendam
Tel: 082 342 5453

“In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty”

Phil Ochs (American singer-songwriter: 1940-1976)

Winter in Swellendam

Winter in the Southern Cape – flowering canola fields and the Langeberg Mountains near Swellendam.

Winter in Swellendam –

Some new work and the Swellendam Winter School.

It’s an ongoing busy winter in Swellendam, some of the big orders have been fired and shipped, and we also have some new work in the gallery.

Smaller orders and the rest of the bigger pots still to be fired before we can get on with work for the spring and coming summer.

Here are some of new pots:

More pictures of the new pots in a future post and ongoing on our Facebook and Instagram pages.


Swellendam Winter School

The Swellendam Winter School began last month by running several 3-day and 5-day courses in various disciplines and activities for the three winter months, June to August.

We have held two well-attended 3-day weekend courses since the inception of the Winter School which we’ve called ‘Clay Explorations’ – one in June, the other in July, with a third planned for the weekend of 23 to 25 August.

For details and further info on our August ‘Clay Explorations’ Course including bookings and accommodation options please CLICK HERE

For further information about the Swellendam Winter School, the courses, bookings, accommodation options etc, please CLICK HERE

Here are a few pictures from the first two courses this winter:

We hope to broaden our offerings for next year’s Winter School with more advanced courses for experienced potters looking to enhance their skills.

We’re thinking of an advanced throwing course, and one focused on glazing and firing high temperature reduction-fired stoneware and porcelain.

Details will follow.

Our thanks and appreciation to all those involved in getting this initiative off the ground this winter – organizers, course facilitators and the participants who have come from far and wide.


Accommodation at the studio

Our recently renovated and refurbished guest cottage is available on a self-catering basis for those wanting to stay over in Swellendam on their travels.

The cottage offers luxury accommodation comprising two en-suite, air-conditioned bedrooms, kitchen, lounge with wood burning fire, full DSTV package and outdoor veranda.

Please contact us for further details, availability and rates.
For pictures of the cottage please click HERE


Please let us know if you would like to be included on our mailing list.
Our e-mail address: