Camp Critters

By Louise Irvine

A magnificent Ardmore urn featuring a family of bush babies is one of the latest additions to our Safari for the Soul collection. The creatures are named for their baby-like cries which can be heard at night in the African bush. They are also called galagos or nagapies meaning “night monkeys” in Afrikaans. The elusive little animals can also be spotted in the Camp Critters design collection introduced by Ardmore last year.

The saucer-eyed primates are secretive nocturnal creatures that live in tree hollows. They communicate with high-pitched calls warning each other of danger and asserting their territory. With their powerful legs and long tails, they can leap up to twenty feet through the forest canopy and snatch flying insects. Interestingly, they urinate on their fingers to make them sticky for gripping branches!

The first Ardmore piece purchased by Arthur Wiener in 2009 depicts bush babies nestling in moon flowers, also known as angel’s trumpets, which attract insects with their sweet scent. The spectacular tureen was featured on the cover of Ardmore’s first book about their story. The adorable bush babies were modeled by Sfiso Mvelese and painted by Wiseman Ndlovu. These artists developed an affinity with the cute creatures as they partnered again to portray them in 2011 on the magnificent urn now on display at WMODA.

The bush baby inspired one of the Jabula wallpaper designs developed by Cole & Son in collaboration with Ardmore. Jabula means “to be joyful” in Zulu and these endearing little animals delight us with their alert ears listening for the flutter of insect wings. They peep out from the African Coral tree, known as the “Lucky Bean” tree. When the tree flowers, it is a good time to plant crops which is how it came to be called lucky. The plump pods burst to reveal ripe seeds, which are gathered to make necklaces and other jewelry.

A bush baby eating a lucky bean is the star of the Ardmore tea towel, which is available in three colors from the WMODA Museum Shop. These useful kitchen accessories also make beautiful tray cloths for tea parties and are great Ardmore gifts, together with matching coasters.

Bush babies are also featured in the Camp Critters fabric pattern inspired by Fee Halsted’s glamping experience in the Kruger National Park. In this lush region of dense vegetation, she watched the “never-ending tapestry of camouflaged beasts, where light, sound, movement and color shift and change.” On return to the Ardmore Studio, Fée worked with her design team, including Abel Mohloakoana, to create the artwork for the new Camp Critters fabric, available by the yard or as ready-made poufs and pillows. Owls, hornbills, and hoopoes flit through this birdwatcher’s paradise, and at dusk, bush babies and catlike genets come out to catch their prey.

The Ardmore Design Collection is available for sale at WMODA. Ardmore fabrics by the yard and wallpaper by Cole & Son can also be ordered through the Museum Shop.

Read more about Ardmore Design

Jabula · The Joy of Living with Ardmore – WMODA | Wiener Museum