A potter must expect to have a demanding routine. The shop does not open in the morning and shut at five. The clay dictates the terms. Yet I find it essential to have a break occasionally from the strict studio routine. It refreshes one, and allows one to generate new ideas about the work as well as giving fresh insights and perspectives.
- Esias Bosch
1923 Born 11 July in Winburg, Orange Free State.
1942 Matriculates from Hoër Volkskool, Potchefstroom.
1943-46 Studies fine art at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Johannesburg School of Art.
1947-49 Teaches at the Diskobolos School for handicapped children, Kimberley.
1949 Awarded the Robert Storm Ceramics Bursary to attend the Central School of Art and Design, London. Departs for the U.K.
1950 Studies at the Central School of Art and Design under Dora Billington.
1951 Marries Valerie Verster. Leaves the Central School to work full-time with Raymond Finch at Winchcombe Pottery, making domestic earthenware and participating in the workshop’s initial production of stoneware.
1952 Moves to Cornwall and works with Michael Cardew at Wenford Bridge. Meets Bernard Leach and Shōji Hamada. Returns to South Africa.
1953-54 Lives in Durban and heads the ceramics department at the Durban Art School. Also has his own studio at which he makes domestic earthenware.
1955-60 Moves to Pretoria in 1955 and establishes a studio in Hatfield. Produces mainly domestic earthenware but also some individual pieces, building up a considerable following for his work. Until 1956 teaches ceramics part-time at the Pretoria Art School. In the same year the first exhibition of his work takes place at the Green Clogs Gallery in Pretoria. In 1959 he visits Michael Cardew in Nigeria.
1960 Moves to the Eastern Transvaal, later renamed the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. After a brief sojourn at Haenertsburg, settles near the small Lowveld village of White River where he establishes his studio at Die Randjie.
1961-75 Produces a wide range of domestic stoneware as well as some individual pieces. In 1963 he is awarded a silver medal by the Smithsonian Institution for his entry in the Ninth International Exhibition of Ceramic Art in Washington DC. In 1967 he receives his first major architectural commission - the mural in the Schlesinger Centre (now the Wesbank Building), Johannesburg. This is followed by commissions for murals at Jan Smuts Airport, the Town House Hotel in Cape Town, Sasol 1, and the headquarters of both Cullinan Refractories and the SABC. In 1972 he is invited to participate in the prestigious International Ceramics Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 1975 he stops making stoneware.
1975-79 Works exclusively in porcelain, producing individual pieces. In 1977 he receives the Oude Libertas award for thrown pottery at the National Ceramics Exhibition in Johannesburg. In 1979 he discontinues working on the wheel.
1980-87 Concentrates entirely on lustre tiles. In 1981 he is awarded a medal of honour for ceramic design by Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. In 1983 an exhibition of his lustre tiles is held at the Historical Museum in Hanover, West Germany, one of the tiles being acquired by the Keramion Museum, Cologne. His more important commissions during this period include the murals at the Foskor headquarters in Phalaborwa, the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, and Die Akademie building in Pretoria. In 1987 he produces his last lustre tiles. All the above periods in Bosch’s oeuvre are comprehensively covered in the book featured on this site, with beautiful photographs of his work during those years.
Please note that the book about Bosch on this site covers his work from the beginning of his career to the making of lustre tiles, a period that ended in 1987 when the book was written.
1988 – 2003 In 1988 a retrospective exhibition of his work is held at the Pretoria Art Museum to mark his 65th birthday. He starts producing large and extremely thin vitrified wall tiles decorated with multiple layers of underglaze ceramic stains and fired several times. Bosch receives a Chancellor Medal from the University of Pretoria in 1991. The Association of Potters of South Africa confers the honorific title of ‘Master Potter’ on Bosch in 2000.
2003 – 2010 When he turns 80 in 2003, he sets aside ceramic work after 53 years of working in clay, and resumes painting and drawing, the two subjects which he excelled in as a student at the Johannesburg School of Art some 60 years earlier. He produces oil paintings described by Murray Schoonraad as ‘intense concentrations of form and colour, delicately executed and extremely successful, reminiscent of the water lilies of Monet.’ In his last years he makes ink drawings on paper and gesso of Lowveld trees, a series of ‘portraits’ of trees that gives him great pleasure.
Esias Bosch passes away on 24 April 2010.
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