In keeping with their ambition to become the most iconic mountain bike event in South Africa, the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush has partnered with revered KwaZulu-Natal artists Ardmore Ceramic Art to create a pleasingly elegant cycling jersey for the 2017 event. Riders will receive the jersey in their 2017 Berg & Bush goodie bag.
The Berg & Bush has long been a favourite event amongst mountain bikers who enjoy quality trails and tranquil race village life. In keeping with the hallmarks that have made them so popular, the event has worked constantly to improve their trails and to always offer something special in the race village – for instance, last year free chocolate milk flowed from a bar overlooking the Tugela River. Now, in an effort, to reinforce the quiet country nature of the Berg & Bush and to also provide something fresh for participants, they have enlisted the help of renowned local artists.
Ardmore Ceramic Art has been an institution in KwaZulu-Natal’s Midlands region since Zimbabwean-born ceramic artist Fée Halsted formed the company on Ardmore farm 1985. In that same year she was joined by Bonakele (Bonnie) Ntshalintshali, who was born on the farm and 18 years old at the time.
Ntshalintshali, who has since passed away, began a ceramics apprenticeship under Halsted and went on to help create the iconic style of the company’s art. “Ardmore became a success because of Bonny’s craftsmanship, skill and meticulous attention to detail,” says Halsted.
Over time Ardmore Ceramic Art and their off-shoot business has partnered with the likes of French luxury house Hermès and most recently Cole & Son, a British wallpaper company. Their designs have been displayed at sold out showings, snapped up at auctions and have been admired in galleries from Europe to the USA.
As neighbours to the Berg & Bush event, Ardmore now moves into a completely new playing field, one that adds a level of glamour to the usually gritty three-day stage race.
“Our family grew up with the founding family of Ardmore in Winterton, so the brand is very close to our hearts and is also proudly from KwaZulu-Natal,” says the Berg & Bush’s Roxanne Green.
“It’s ultimately a family business, as are we. They have taken the world by storm with their innovation, and their designs are always associated with the highest quality and their roots in their community, which connects perfectly with the ideals and history of the Berg & Bush.”
For their part, Ardmore took inspiration from the local flora when considering the new Berg & Bush jerseys. The design features very subtle hints of the protea. “The protea bushes that we find on the mountain slopes and the African Ardmore designs of plants epitomise the Drakensberg ’s landscape and embody the natural beauty of this region, it also features in our latest collaboration with French luxury brand Hermes,” says Ardmore’s Catherine Berning.
So not only will riders blend in at this year’s Berg & Bush, but they’ll also stand out.
The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush takes place in October this year over the course of three events; The Descent (6-8 Oct), the Great Trek (10-12 Oct) and the 2 Day (14-15 Oct). There are limited entries left for the Descent.