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MAGGIE MIKULA From Clay – A Retrospective (article first published : 2004-08-25)

MAGGIE MIKULA From Clay – A Retrospective is, firstly, a most wonderful exhibition and, secondly, a book/catalogue that pays tribute to Mikula and all she stood for.

The exhibition running at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg has been put together by Vee Bauer, who has produced her Master’s thesis on Mikula and her work. The book was edited by Max Mikula, her son. Together they paid a thorough and most worthy tribute that will undoubtedly document the contribution Mikula made to South African ceramics.

Credit must also go to Jill Addleson of the Durban Art Gallery who immediately recognised the unique Africaness of Mikula’s work and bought some of the best pieces over a time for the DAG collection.

The elegance and design of Mikula’s work is evident in every piece on show. Her finish is immaculate and her work reflects a humble reverence to and African culture, which was her source and which she so obviously respected and honoured. Mikula was able to hand build, or to throw the clay, she burnished, crackled and smoked whatever fitted the clay she used.

She made small vases, paperweights, drum vessels, bowls and tiles, using beads, rope, shells, cotton and a host of other things. Her decorations were extremely intelligent and well executed. There are few potters today who have reached such perfection.

The book has a beautifully written introduction by Durban artist Andrew Verster and there are tributes from fellow artists, museum curators and critics. Her husband Paul wrote a brief history of Maggie the ceramicist, but also reveals Mikula as wife, mother and nature lover.

Design and layout of the book is by Maria Criticos and all photographs were taken by Patrick Royal. It’s a most successful publication. - Marianne Meijer




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