Cheval /Nguni ceramics
Cheval was started by Johnny de Beer as a hobby in 1980. It is a true cottage industry which up to a few years ago employed about 30 people,producing several different kinds of horses, ponies (especially the comical range) and cattle breeds.
Much of the cheval figurines were exported to the UK and North America but lately production is much smaller and now only employs two other persons namely Sue Reece, and his wife Diana. Sue does all the painting.
Cheval has now branched into other themes such as the indigenous Nguni cattle,Horse and Man compositions and Wildlife but on a much reduced scale and fewer numbers per edition.
Matthys Johannes (Johnny) de Beer
Johnny spent 32 years teaching Biology and Science at a private school ,there after a couple of years at a Teacher Training College. He tried his hand at landscape painting and only started working with clay at 37 years of age .He made a variety of human and animal designs before concentrating on his horse and pony themes. The comical ponies and draught horses became very popular and were exported to several other countries.
Johnny then gradually widened his ceramic range into cattle especially the Indigenous Nguni breed which has become very popular.Very recently he has produced a larger range of horses including Racehorses,Draught horses , Warmbloods and now also Wild life such as Cheetah,Antelope (Kudu and Nyala) Buffalo and Wild dogs etc.All these newer pieces have been beautifully painted by Susan Reece.
At the age of 50 Johnny left teaching and describes himself as semi retired, concentrating on his newer large ceramic designs , resin and bronze creations,keeping fit and lowering his golf handicap.His work is very realistic and detailed.
Diana de Beer.
Di has played a vital role in the development of the Cheval studio which still continues as a cottage industry after 36 years. She has been the backbone of this business.
Apart from working on the products in the clay state,she did most of the glazing,kiln loading etc and all the selection, quality control , correction or repair as well as all the bookwork and packing. Every single piece has been through her expert hands thereby maintaining our high standard of earthenware figurines.
Di is also the sole person involved in various market outlets.
Sue studied at Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town. She specialised in watercolour especially for book illustrations, children portraits and pets. She started with Cheval in 1989 and soon mastered the painting on our bisque models .Apart from her excellent handwork she became an expert in the vital airbrush technique.
Sue has played an integral part in continuing and widening the Cheval classic range giving useful advice and suggestions . She was one of our original group of artists and after all these years she now does all the painting for Cheval. She is highly skilled as can be seen in the decoration of her much admired Nguni cattle and in the new range of Wild life that we are now producing .