Tag Archives: Potter

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 Apartheid and its resistance come to life in this vital historical document, of its time and for our own.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
E-mail: david@pottery.co.za

Summer 2021 at Bukkenburg Pottery, Swellendam

New Year Greetings from Swellendam, and a warm welcome back to Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage at the beginning of what seems to be another very turbulent and worrying year ahead.

Once again we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all who have supported our efforts over the last while; your continued support has helped us to sustain ourselves during these very trying times.

We are grateful for the commissioned work, large and small, which has so helped us work through these turbulent times, and also to those who visited the studio over the holiday season and bought something from us to take home with them.

This lovely pair of wheel-thrown stoneware planters are at their new home in Johannesburg.

Much of the past while has been spent working on a commission for very big indoor and outdoor planters.  The wet work, including some extras, is more or less done and as soon as we have the final finish and colour requirements from the client, the pots will be fired. 
We’ll also be firing the smaller commissions and orders that have come in, and also some new work for the gallery.

Overall, we are busy and productive with some ongoing work right here at home – a lot to be thankful for in these uncertain times ..!

It is alarming to hear that the rates of Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death in our country are growing; and even in a small rural town like this, we are aware of and know people who are really suffering with the virus and some who have succumbed.

A second wave of the Coronavirus is causing such unbearable pain, suffering and hardship around the world, including our own country, and after a brief respite in ‘lockdown’ level 1 towards the end of last year, here, we are back to ‘lockdown’ level 3.

There are several local welfare and charity initiatives set up to help those who have fallen on harder times during the pandemic, providing food and comfort to those hardest hit, and the local population is always willing to spring into action when called on to help.

Local medical services are operating under increasing strain as the virus continues to spread in and around Swellendam.

This version of Level 3 ‘lockdown’ includes several severe measures which have had a devastating impact on the economy, agriculture, and an already struggling domestic travel industry over the summer.

Some of these measures and restrictions which were introduced at the beginning of the holiday season include the total closure of all beaches in our part of the world, a complete ban on all alcohol sales, night time curfew from 9.00 pm to 6.00 am, closure of land borders with neighbouring countries amongst others.

These measures and restrictions have had a specially devastating impact on the wine industry of the Western Cape, an industry that employs over 300 000 people and is central to the economy of the region.

The wine growing region in our part of the world is largely to the west of us and to the south, very close to Swellendam.

This article by winemaker Bruce Jack paints a very touching and disturbing picture of what is being faced:

Bruce Jack on the devastating human and industry cost of Covid-19

Vineyards and the Breede River in summer near Bonnievale, Western Cape

By contrast, we hear that the grain famers of the Swellendam district have had a very good harvest, and things are looking promising for them, which will have a beneficial impact on the town.  We wrote about this in our September newsletter, before the harvest came in, and if you scroll down, you will find it there.

Wheat fields near Riviersonderend after the harvest.

In our immediate area we are seeing growing unemployment, poverty and misery all around us, and daily there are people ringing our door bell asking for something to do, a ‘piece job’, just to get something to eat.
Others desperately asking for a sandwich.

According to Statistics SA, more than 17 million South Africans, one in five, rely on social welfare grants from the state; and even in this small rural town there are unbelievably long queues of desperate people standing in line for their welfare grant payments on their designated days.

Our own strategy for now involves going out as seldom as possible with masks and hand sanitizer, and only for those things we really need; there are bottles of sanitizer around the house, gallery, studio, and cottage; washing hands etc etc, and most specially staying away from busy or crowded places if we can.

As expected, visitor numbers are significantly down on previous years, and the usual flow of foreign travelers to this part of the world seems to have almost dried up completely for now. 

It is doubtful that we’ll experience any real return of travellers to our region until there are enough vaccinated people who feel confident to travel again, and that seems to be a long way off.

The summer months have brought a slow, steady flow of visitors to the studio, and we have been fortunate to have also had several bookings in the cottage over the holiday season.

Accommodation at the Studio

Our guest cottage is 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.


Spring / Summer 2020/21

And as the year begins to get underway, we are again experiencing ongoing nation-wide power cuts – called ‘load shedding’ here.
Sometimes two or even three 2 1/2 hour events a day.
Not easy dodging these cuts in electricity supply and still remaining productive and upbeat !

It’s harder now to imagine where the leadership will come from to help change direction here towards something more positive.
This article written by Marianne Merten in the Daily Maverick this week provides a sobering look at what the coming year might hold for this country:

Sadly, due to the curfew this year, we were unable to take our stroll through town late on New Year’s Eve and make our by now traditional ‘Abbey Road Crossing’ over the main street.

Here’s a picture from last year’s walk:

Huge excitement during the summer when a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls hatched two eggs in a hollow in an oak tree right here in our neighbour’s garden.
Needless to say they provided the best photo opportunity imaginable. Here are some of the pictures of one of the adults and the two owlets:

Spotted Eagle Owl – one of the parents

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.
Within the next month or so we will be hooked up to the internet with the newly installed fibre network in town and we’re looking forward to high-speed, trouble-free communications.
The paperwork is all done, and now we wait for the area to go ‘live’.

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 have a new e-mail address: david@pottery.co.za
Please add it to your address books, the old one will be phased out over time.

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 begin the new year.

Please take care of yourselves and each other ..!

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – Swellendam
January – 2021

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

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you

Ralph Waldo Emerson