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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


(Trayci Tompkins hand coiled raku fired vessel)

Lionsgate Country Gallery and Ceramic Studio forms a gateway to the picturesque rolling hills of the Dargle and will this Easter weekend officially open its doors to the public. It is home to Trayci Tompkins’ busy ceramic studio and a collective body of work from a range of professional, established artists working in various mediums. The work featured in the gallery are from artists Trayci and Stuart Tompkins both admire and respect and whom they have, over the many years, come to know as friends.

“Making and marketing of art in a country that is rich in cultural diversity and challenge is exciting to us,” commented Trayci. “Honesty, creative expression, commitment and hard work have been our motto throughout both our lives and something we value most. The consolidation of studio, gallery and home and the wide open space that Lionsgate offers, enriches our uncomplicated lifestyle.”

For Stuart and Trayci Tompkins, founders of the successful Zulu-lulu™ ceramic studio, and no strangers to the world of professional artists and art makers, theirs is a gallery space that will evolve and mature. “We are proud to showcase the work of a select group of professional artists whose work is not generally represented in the area,” says Stuart, “and we are looking forward to offering visitors to the Midlands Meander an opportunity to enjoy and own a part of this”.

Each of the artists enjoys experimenting with their respective mediums to create technically skilled works that are representative of them and their experiences. The works in the gallery absorb the viewer and the mix of positive viewpoints highlights the diversity of the artists on show, whilst the overall experience will leave you with a sense of joy.

Trayci Tompkins balances her passion and skill in creating her sought-after vessels, sculpture and mantelpiece clocks with a range of studio ceramics under the Zulu-lulu brand. “My work is a reflection of me and what I respond to around me. Beauty and motion interprets into shape and form. I find the use of colour in glazing uplifting and choose to balance that out with the resulting fire effects achieved through random patterning from the smouldering sawdust firings. The surrounding Dargle landscape has influenced my work in a positive and more simplistic way, whilst nature’s view from my studio table is a constant source of inspiration.’

Hildegard specialises in modern etching techniques. Rather than using the conventional zinc or copper plate, Hildegard works with a softer acrylic plate. This allows her to ‘scratch or engrave’ directly into the plate, thus eliminating the use of acid. Hildegard colours her images in a way that allows the textures of the etching to come through, whilst lending a soft, natural effect to the whole image. As every piece is hand painted, no print is ever identical resulting in a unique ‘original’. “I love print making in all its aspects – sketching, scratching, colouring and etching – for me my work is a form of play”

With a similar sensitivity and understanding of her medium, Lynette Morris-Hale’s methods are simple and as direct as possible allowing chance to dictate her richly tactile clay works. “Ceramic pieces must talk back to me and that is why I strive to get even my teapots to have a voice, a character,” she explains. “The clay is my co-artist and it never fails to delight me in its response to my guidance. The selection and combinations of textures and shapes being made through on-the-spot choices based on what’s available. I keep collecting all things textural and have built up a box of treasures. This approach allows me to make full use of the surrealist technique of generating surprise.”

Using the ancient art of glass slumping that dates back to 2000BC, John Lewis produces a range of glass art; ranging from jewellery and exquisite d├ęcor panels to functional bowls and platters. His experiments with oxides and glaze additions give his work a very fresh and unique approach. His latest outdoor sculpture panels and ‘bubble’ table platters reflect light, depth and an understanding of his medium – and have rapidly become a must-have in any home and garden.

No stranger to the art world both locally and the United States, Martin Wenkidu works with a mixed media, beginning with acrylics or tempera progressing through to oils. Being a paper-maker, Martin often includes miniature leaves or shaped and coloured paper into his highly detailed and intricate works. “Instead of simply seeing colour in a sense I hear it, inwardly hear it,” he says. “Before I start on a particular work I have something like a musical composition inside me. I begin each piece with a drawing which sets the mood I am interested in, and once I start painting, I’m painting these inner sounds. The work is complete once is “sounds” right, which may take anything from one week to two years.”

Siyabonga Sikhosana’s vibrant rural scenes sing a very different, yet still very personal song. With a subject matter that forms the very fabric of our society today. Siya’s ‘honest’ work reflects his humorous and colourful approach to the daily life that surrounds him using a style that has become his signature. His stories of culture, tradition and daily routine combine to delight and educate.

It is these stories and ‘views from our window’ that interest the eye of photographer Harry Lock who is currently working with an excitingly fresh technique of collage; using printed images to create a whole. It’s an exciting technique that is exquisitely assembled in a contemporary style box frame.

Lionsgate Country Gallery and Ceramic Studio have open weekends on the first and last weekend of each month including April 22 to 25 and April 29 to May 1. Follow them on Face book: Lionsgate Country Gallery where you will find profiles of the artists as well as photos of their work. For more information, contact Stuart Tompkins on 08 362 73491 or email:

Directions: Take the Howick/Midmar exit off the N3. Get onto the R103 passing Midmar Dam on your left and continue past Lions River Train Station on your left. Turn left onto the Dargle/Impendle road and you'll see Lionsgate on the left.