Tag Archives: Swellendam Gallery

Summer 2022 at Bukkenburg

Season’s Greetings from Bukkenburg in Swellendam
Our Best wishes for 2023

Our interesting winter journey mentioned in the last newsletter has continued to provide ongoing interest and some drama into summer.

Malachite sunbird on a flowering Agapanthus.

The Swellendam Garden Expo and Open Gardens Weekend in early November was fantastic.

The organisation of the weekend was really superb and the event was so well supported by local residents and visitors to the town.  All gardens that were on the program and open reported a bigger than expected turnout.

Well done to all involved – organisers, those who presented workshops, The Gardener’s Market, and all the participating gardeners and their gardens.

We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and we’re looking forward to all the preparations involved in getting our garden and studio ready for the open gardens next spring.

And also very importantly, as a fundraising effort, the weekend event raised a substantial sum for Swellendam SPCA.


The ongoing nation-wide power cuts have intensified recently and are causing such havoc throughout the country – affecting even us in our small home studio in rural Western Cape.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we need at least 14 hours of uninterrupted power to run the three phase fan on either of our oil kilns and the increased frequency of power cuts since the end of November means that it is just not possible.

We have an electrician working on a system right now to run the fan from our backup electricity supply and free ourselves from the ongoing power cuts on the national grid.

It’s taking longer than we hoped and is further complicated by the difficulties of getting things done in the service industry during the end of year pressures.


Here’s hoping that the kiln will be in operation again very soon.
We’ll begin with the restart of an interrupted firing from a few weeks ago when it had to be shut down due to a sudden increase in the frequency and duration of the power cuts.

The power situation in the country has become untenable and we’re having to resort to extreme and very expensive measures along with everyone else to try and remain afloat.

Streaky-headed seedeater (canary) enjoying new season sunflowers in the garden.


There have also been disruptions in our fuel supply recently and it’s now very difficult getting paraffin locally. We have been using paraffin to fire the kilns since moving here in 1996.

Thanks to a suggestion from a friend on Facebook, we have been able to buy Jet A1 at the local flying club as an alternative; it is essentially paraffin with some additives.

Filling our cans with Jet A1 fuel at the airfield with Michael. That is Jacob Streicher filling the cans.


Glazing and decorating continues in anticipation of the power supply to the kiln being sorted and several glaze firings to come.

As soon as things stabilise our outstanding commissions and orders will be fired and we will again have a refreshed display of new work in our gallery at the studio.

Thank you to all who are waiting for pots from us for your patience and understanding!


Our most recent adventure appeared on the morning of Saturday 17 December when we went into the studio and found that it had been flooded during the big rain that had fallen overnight.

On further inspection we found that the brick wall between us and our neighbour had come down during the heavy rain and the water that came in behind it had washed through the studio leaving a deposit of fine silt throughout.

Thankfully there is no further damage to work in progress or the building, just a mess to clear up, which is almost done now, and re-building the wall in the new year.

The collapsed wall at the back of the studio.


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 Cottage

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


The studio and gallery will be open and working throughout the holidays and beyond, and visitors are always welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, we’re hoping for an occasional outing to the beach if time and weather allow.

“May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude.”
~ Leonard Cohen ~


With our very best wishes for the festive season and 2023

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – December 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

Spring 2022 at Bukkenburg

Hello and sunny spring greetings from us at Bukkenburg in Swellendam

How wonderful to feel the warmer weather now and enjoy longer days with the arrival of spring in the southern hemisphere.

We’re marking two notable milestones in October

And one upcoming event

We have been together for 50 years!

Our meandering journey / adventure / odyssey into clay and the art and craft of high fired studio pottery began within a few months of our getting together in October 1972.

We’re also marking 26 years in Swellendam.
We moved into the heritage house Bukkenburg on 1 October 1996, after many years in our home and studio in Johannesburg.


Winter into spring

It’s been a different and an interesting journey this past winter.

Felicity broke the fibula in her right leg in July about a week after we posted our last newsletter, and that had a profound impact on the rhythm of life and work.

We are so grateful for supportive friends and neighbours who helped us through this time.

We ran several short workshops in the studio during the winter while Felicity was ‘out of action’, and managed to cater a marvellous dinner for the Swellendam Music Society and their visiting artists with help of Carolyn from next door, Sue and Felicity’s son Andrew who was here for the weekend.

Occupancy in the cottage has been modest and steady.

Felicity’s recovery is reassuring and work in the studio is regaining some momentum – the rhythm of life and work slowly returns.

We have the house and some light studio equipment connected to a backup electricity supply and so now we are able to remain productive.

The studio and covered outside drying area are filling up with unfired pots, many orders and stock for our gallery for the summer.
We’re looking forward to getting busy with our spring firings as soon as possible.

As with so many all over the country, the ongoing nationwide power cuts have impacted our work in the studio.
In order to fire either of our two big oil fired kilns we need at least 14 hours of uninterrupted electricity.

We’re hopeful for a more steady supply of electricity soon, and if not, we we’ll have to consider an alternative solution, perhaps a generator to run the big three-phase fan that atomises the fuel as it enters the kiln.

Swellendam Garden Expo & Open Gardens
4 to 6 November

We have also been very busy preparing the garden for the Swellendam Open Gardens weekend in November.

Ours will be one of 18 gardens in and around Swellendam that will be open to visitors from 4 to 6 November.

In addition there will be a Gardener’s Market and a range of events.

For further information and bookings please visit the Swellendam Garden Expo.
Also on Facebook; CLICK HERE

A few spring garden pictures

‘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.

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

Overberg farmlands outside Swellendam in late September


Wishing you all the best

David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – October 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

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

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