Tag Archives: Bukkenburg Pottery

Autumn 2023 at Bukkenburg

Hello and warm greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam as we approach the Autumn Equinox.

From the low-water crossing over the Breede River at Drew, about 25 km west of Swellendam – click to enlarge.

It has been a rather busy few months here, and we have much to share in this newsletter/blog post. Here’s hoping that you enjoy the contents.
All the pictures should enlarge with a click.

Saturday 18 March

A different sort of event this month as David and his brother John will be in conversation at Bokmakiri Books in Swellendam talking about John’s memoir
‘When They Came For Me : The Hidden Diary Of An Apartheid Prisoner’.

An earlier event to launch the book here, without John, had to be postponed due to increased Covid-19 restrictions in force at the time.

John will be in South Africa during March, taking part in the Jewish Literary Festival in Cape Town on Human Rights Day, March 21, and later for engagements in Johannesburg.

We are delighted that he will finally be here and look forward to a meaningful event in Swellendam with him, and we are most grateful to Eduan Swanepoel from Bokmakiri Books for hosting the event.

The event is open to the public and we hope to see some of you there.

The event is open to the public and all are welcome.

The Venue
Please click for: Bokmakiri Books
Shop 7
Carlton Mall
Voortrek Street
Tel: 083 651 5830


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 Apartheid and its resistance come to life in this vital historical document, of its time and for our own.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.

Please click this link for – An article in The South African Jewish Report

Please click this link for – Jewish Literary Festival

Please click this link to reach the South African publisher of the book: Jonathan Ball
Please click this link for the UK publisher of the book: Berghahn Books

Norwich – 2013

Members of the extended family, UK, South Africa and USA on Zoom having received their copies of the book.

Life and work at Bukkenburg in the first months of 2023.

Such a busy time here lately!
We are pleased to report that we have at last found a solution – for our studio – to the nightmarish consequence of collapsing electricity supply that is plaguing the country.

It has involved buying a new motor for the fan and installing a Variable Speed Drive to convert our single phase backup electricity supply to the studio, to 3-phase in order to power the motor and be able to fire the kiln.

Sophisticated electrics requiring the services of a really competent electrician to make it all work together. Thankfully Swellendam is blessed with such skills!

And so thankful to have Andrew helping with the whole project.

We have fired the big kiln successfully with this new system and another glaze firing is imminent.

We are sure that it won’t be too long before things finally settle down a bit.

Family visit

Marian and Peter were here from the UK for a few days recently with their daughter Jane and her partner Jonathan. A short but wonderful visit!

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.

The cover of the new ‘Swellendam Summer Guide – 2023’
Co-ordinated and financed by the Swellendam Municipality.
So good to have something for visitors to take away with them as they explore the town and region. We’re looking forward to the benefits from a wide distribution campaign.

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

Summertime lunch with Andrew and James – Christina’s Bistro at van Loveren Family Vineyards, Robertson Western Cape.

The studio and gallery are open and working daily, and visitors are always welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we will be here and available.

“Dedicate years to honing your craft, whatever that may be.
Creativity emerges through repetition. And whistling”

Hyme Rabinowitz

Spotted eagle owlets

With our very best wishes

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – March 2023

Mobile & WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Please visit our Social Media pages:
Facebook Studio Page
Facebook – Bukkenburg Pottery
Facebook Accommodation Page
Facebook – David

Chameleons are back in the garden in their numbers this year.

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
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

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

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)

Potter’s Lunch and Summer Open Studio

Please join us during our Summer Open Studio and Potter’s Lunch at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

Gosh, that was quick..!
The year has almost come to an end…

A slightly different program for this year – some dates to note if you’re gong to be in our part of the world during the coming summer months and over the holiday season, and are keen to stop in:

13 to 16 December – Swellendam Art Meander.
Open studios in and around Swellendam for three days.

Our studio will be open and working as part of the Swellendam Art Meander.

16 December – Potter’s Lunch
Our annual Buffet Lunch at Bukkenburg.
Lunch bookings are essential.
Tel: 082 342 5453

New work from several recent firings on show in the gallery and the garden is looking delightful this early summer.

Pin-tailed whydah in the pepper tree outside the studio.

Accommodation at the studio

With the holiday season fast approaching there is limited accommodation in our guest cottage.
Please call for availability and rates.
For further information and details about the cottage, including some pictures, please click – HERE

The studio and gallery will be open and working throughout the coming holiday season and beyond.

Visitors welcome…

Season’s Greetings and all the best for the new year..!

With best wishes
David and Felicity
December 2019

Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage
Tel: 082 342 5453

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: bukkenburg@sdm.dorea.co.za