My name is Marthinus van Bart, and I am a trustee of a National Heritage Monument, St. Stephen’s Church,(originally the African Theatre – built by sir George Yonge in 1802), in Cape Town. The theatre / church is situated on Riebeeck Square. The paintings of the new theatre by Lady Anne Barnard (1802) and others are well known.

Our bronze heritage plaque, bestowed on the building by the (late) Historical Monument’s Council when it was declared a monument many decades ago, has been hacked from the wall with a crowbar by the criminal bronze and copper strippers. It most probably ended up in China.

Because the badge hails from “the Old South Africa” a bronze replacement is not available at all. So an artist friend listened to my lament and agreed to help the trust. He then made a mould from an original Monuments Council plaque (one of the few not yet stolen) and cast it in pottery clay. It was then fired in a pottery kiln. After colouring and over-glasing it, it was again fired. The end product – a sturdy ceramic plaque, identical to the original – is virtually indestructable by the natural forces of wind, rain and the scorching summer sun.
For the bronze and copper thieves it has no value at all.

Now St. Stephen’s stands proud again with its plaque at the front entrance. We alo pasted one (with ordinary tile adhesive) on an interior wall, and put a third plaque in the safe – just in case an extremely stupid vandal maims the outside one.

The cost, delivery included, was R500 per badge, which is very reasonable since it took a big operation, hours of work and a huge electricity bill for the use of the electric pottery oven. Also rack space in the oven had to be hired from a private pottery business. For the economics of the firing process, clay, glazing and colouring, the artist made a small batch of these plaques, and they are now available to other heritage organiszations who lost their plaques.

The cost is R500 a piece, delivery by post inclusive.

Please have a look at the attached picture of one of these ceramic plaques. I took it with my camera.

* Anyone interested, can contact me by email at kultuurkroniek@gmail.com or cell phone 072 740 5203.

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