Zulu-lulu is an innovative new multi-functional gallery which opened its doors over the festive season. It is in the heart of the Midlands and has a phenomenal view .

Zulu-lulu is a dream come true for the owners, husband and wife team Stuart and Trayci Tompkins.

The pair are two of the most charming and effervescent personalities in the industry.

They are delighted with their new venture with three art businesses operating from one vibrant, purpose-built space on the picturesque Midlands Meander.

Zulu-lulu Ceramic Boutique, Art Bar and Gallery is part of the extended new Piggly Wiggly Country Village in Lions River.

What was once a rustic farm stall and modest coffee shop has evolved into an al-fresco amalgam of like-minded shops and businesses opening on to a rock putt-putt course.

“In reality, Zulu-lulu started out six years ago as a passionate idea to create a truly South African range of ceramics,” says Stuart Tompkins.

Having trained originally in theatre arts, Trayci Tompkins has spent the past 20 years building her reputation with her hand-coiled smoke and raku-fired vessels and collectable sculptural pieces, all of which carry her signature storytelling style.

Her natural ability to teach and nurture the artist within, is what gave birth to the first Zulu-lulu collectable figurine aptly named, The Dlamini. It is named after former gardener Tim Dlamini who Trayci tutored into making clay his career.

The studio now produces a full range of handmade ceramics from the collectable Dlamini figurines, to a range of affordable smoke-fired décor vessels and quirky functionals for the table.

“The tableware range is constantly changing as I find fresh ideas and inspirations,” says Trayci, who recently returned from a trip to Morocco.

“I have the colours and taste of Marrakech still filling my head,” she enthuses.

“Her fascination with unearthed treasures has led Trayci from childhood diggings in the shale rocks of the Transkei coast to the Aztec ruins in the jungles of Tikal in Guatemala.

Collected by lovers of beautiful things, Trayci’s work is in homes and offices all over the world.

“We work together as a small studio team on all the Zulu-lulu products, so each piece has been individually worked and bears the personality of us all.

“There is no moulding or mass production which ultimately makes each piece special. Each vessel or sculpture is marked and documented.”

After five years of trading, initially out of a wooden shed at Piggly Wiggly centre in Lions River, then upgrading to a little thatched roof shop, the Tompkins recently took a leap of faith.

They custom-designed their own contemporary country building to house the new Zulu-lulu within the Piggly Wiggly country centre development. It opened just before Christmas.

The new Zulu-lulu ceramic boutique, art bar and gallery, brings together retail space, carefully-selected artworks in the gallery, and a comfortable studio for visitors to try their hand at being creative.

In the art bar visitors can choose their own blank piece of pottery to paint.

Each piece has been hand-thrown in the studio.

It’s a relaxed space where visitors can get together as a group. Groups of children, friends or colleagues are welcome, as is a family.

It’s a developing project and additions and workshops are planned for the year ahead.

Trayci’s statement vessels and ceramic sculpture will soon be for sale in the gallery.

The will be there alongside the works of current exhibiting artists Simon Addy, Lyn Hoyle, Zoe Mair and Coral Spencer.

High-quality prints from Addy and Hoyle are also available through the gallery.

Zulu-lulu can be found at Piggly Wiggly Country Village, R103 Lions River.

It is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. No booking for the art bar is necessary other than for parties and corporate functions. Call 083 6273491.