Kim Sacks - Exhibitions
CONTEMPORARY GALLERY · TRIBAL GALLERY · VESSEL MAKER · EXHIBITIONS · SCHOOL OF CERAMICS

Artists Profiles

CLEMENTINA VAN DER WALT

Clementina van der Walt

Clementina currently works in her own studio in Woodstock, with assistants Adonis N'sele Mumpango and Euloge Think.

Together with her husband Albie Bailey she has a retail outlet at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town and studio at Kraaldoring, outside Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo. Visitors by appointment only)

Clementina has participated in numerous national and international ceramic exhibitions, the most recent being Ceramic Art London 2018 at St Martin's Central, London UK.

2009 – Present: Member of the prestigious International Academy of Ceramic
2016 – Elected as a Fellow of CeramicsSA

Her work features in many private and public collections, including the South African National Gallery (Iziko Museums), Yingge Museum (Taiwan) and Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu, Japan.

In 2014 a Clementina van der Walt vessel was featured on a South African postage stamp as part of a series of South African Ceramic Vessels series.

Clementina's work focuses primarily on the exploration of the symbolic potential of utilitarian form and the ritualistic understanding of ordinary activities like eating and drinking.

In addition, Clementina makes decorative vases and wall tiles where the clay background forms a canvas on which she paints intuitive shapes and images inspired by European modernist painters like Miro, Malevich and Kandinsky.

The light, the colours, textures and shapes within the African cultural and physical landscape are reflected in the ceramics.

Clementina uses earthenware clays with underglazes and glazes. Her techniques include slipcasting, press-moulding, throwing, hand building.

Clementina's Work

DAVID BELLAMY

David Bellamy

We produce labour-intensive, biodegradable artist's studio textiles, printing, stenciling or painting the surfaces. We use textile inks.

A lot of my new inspiration is drawn from the sea and underground water, as we need to think about the importance of water to ourselves and our planetary next-door-neighbours, continually. I favour painterly approaches, which sit well in contemporary, minimalist interiors.

David Bellamy studied Biological Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, sub-majoring in Botany, later completing a BA Hons in Fine Art and Critical Studies at Central St Martin's College of Art and Design, London

David Bellamy's Work

DALE LAMBERT

Dale Lambert

My fascination with clay shapes and forms goes back to my early childhood when I would spend countless inspired hours in the sandpit. For as long as I can remember, clay creations have remained an obsession. I am intrigued that a substance as rudimentary as clay can be transformed to express many aspects of the complex and diverse world around me.

I have also had periods when I experienced the thrill of working with porcelain and have had periods when I chose to fashion my creations in that medium. My affinity with porcelain exists, possibly, as it lends itself to expression at both an artistic and personal level. Porcelain mirrors my personal vulnerability and sensitivity whilst also containing a concealed and quiet inner strength.

In recent years I have concentrated more on colours and form, mainly working with stoneware clay bodies, constantly perusing the notion of achieving more refined and bolder shapes and colours.

I constantly want to achieve more and challenge myself as I feel every day that I have the time and opportunity to work in my studio is an absolute gift to be treasured.

Dale Lambert's Work

GABY SNYMAN

Gaby Snyman

Gaby Snyman was born and educated in Paarl. She completed a 4 year BA Fine Arts degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 1982. She worked as an illustrator and book designer in Cape Town before starting a family.

In 2010 she started pottery lessons under the guidance of Kim Sacks. She is currently a student and mentee of John Shirley.

In October 2015 she received the Melanie Robinson Award for her work in porcelain at the CSA Gauteng regional exhibition. She held a solo show in Bryanston in August 2016 and partook in a group exhibition INDIGO and WHITE at the Kim Sacks Gallery.

Gaby lives in Johannesburg.

Artists statement:

Since I started working with clay in 2010, I felt a strong connection with the material. Being specifically drawn to the bowl form, my work is thrown and turned using porcelain with a variety of stains in the body. This process provides infinite possibilities creating movement and surface interest reminiscent of sea, sky and landscapes.

Gaby Snyman's Work

PETA BECKER

Peta Becker

These pieces reflect my lifelong obsession with botanical forms and colour.

They began with succulent plants and cactus pieces, which have evolved into hanging forms, trailing and fruiting bodies and experiments with textures and colonies.

The surface texture, the play of light on textile volumes and ideas of scale in this medium are among my current preoccupations.

As technology and urban living increase our distance from the natural world, we experience its primal pull even more strongly.

Full of mystery and emotion, the kingdom of plants occupies huge areas of our planet’s surface. We are discovering more about plant communication and intelligence, which reveal sophisticated networks of signalling and complex survival strategies.

Ideas about fertility, growth and decay are part of my explorations.

Peta Becker's Work

CHARMAINE HAINES

Christine

Living and working in Nieu Bethesda, I continue to explore my ongoing fascination for Ancient Cultures, African Artifacts and Medieval Iconic Art which embodies a broad interest in the history of art and craft from ancient to industrial.

The natural Karoo environment plays an integral part in my day to day source of inspiration. It continues to be a place of extremes where the weather has a major influence, creating an awareness of both life and death where small things matter.

I'm surrounded by the evidence that the Karoo was once an ancient sea.

Working within the realm of figurative clay, I use both abstract and stylised symbols and motives to embellish the smooth and seductive clay surfaces, further enhancing the sculptural forms.

The embellished surface is influenced by simplified abstractions of nature.

Fish and birds have always been part of my iconography. Together with my portraits they've become autobiographical design elements that repeat themselves throughout my work adding both a narrative and mythical presence to the forms.

The swirling vortex of fish outlines together with colour, texture and simple gestural shapes create a rhythmic quality further enhancing the connection between the surface space and the volume of the form.

Working primarily with vessels, the forms often evolve into sculptural works evident in my most recent sculptural pieces. The vessel forms reflect my intention to embrace familiar classical shapes, exploring the potential of the human form further representing the metaphor of the body as a vessel.

Simple shapes are altered to incorporate sculptural and semi-relief elements. Coloured stains and natural oxide washes are used to further exemplify the manipulative and expressive quality of the clay surface, including carving and textures showing a strong sense of surface pattern - through abstraction and symbolism.

Charmaine's Work  |  Charmaine's Profile

CLEMENTINA VAN DER WALT

Clementina

Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

T.S. Eliot (Burnt Norton)

This year 2013 is probably the 5th or 6th year I have shown at Kim Sacks Gallery, mostly as a one-person show but, last year, I was joined by Priscilla Mouritzen and by Kim Sacks herself.

I was particularly inspired by the work of Kim which she exhibited on the above-mentioned exhibition. This led to an ongoing dialogue between us, both verbally and indeed visually. It was as if two parallel roads slowly converged in a way that the ceramic journey became a shared path. This has manifested in several of our individual pieces overlapping slightly in visual language and yet many others very much retaining each individual signature as it were.

My own work for this exhibition follows three main strands – utilitarian tableware, figurines and narrative wall plates.

Utilitarian tableware:
Throughout my ceramic career I have always been drawn to the significance of tableware which we use on a daily basis, reminding us of nourishment and gratitude. For me this is a very powerful art form in that the user is enriched in a direct and elemental way.

Figurines:
An investigation into mystical and spiritual rituals in various cultures has inspired figurative table pieces which incorporate both sculptural and utilitarian dimensions.

Narrative plates:
Several wall plates depict excerpts of poetic texts borrowed from the poetry of Karen Press. Other plates feature imagery inspired largely by San and other ancient rock paintings. My interest in this stems from spending much time in the Klein Karoo where I have a studio outside Calitzdorp. The awe-inspiring landscape and the country living experience have initiated a hugely profound effect on me.

Philosophically and stylistically in the past year I have been exploring the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, characteristics of which include asymmetry, roughness or irregularity, simplicity and the appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. This has manifested in my use of monochrome glazes and quiet, simple forms. Wabi sabi centres on the acceptance of transience and impermanence. Such a notion informs my understanding in an ongoing search for life's meaning.

Clementina's Work

KIM SACKS

Kim

The body of work that I have been constructing over the last year has been a continuum of what I started more than two years ago. In my exploration of the two ceramic techniques of pinching and coiling – I have constructed a path back to my own creative self. It has been enthralling and magical.

Much of what is here – is the result of endless hours, sitting quietly, meditatively and listening to my inner voice – just the clay and the quietness of my mountain workspace.

There are pinched and thrown vessels.

Two very disparate groups of objects – each speaking a very specific language – with it's own resonances and associations for me.

I think we all have many creative voices and languages that are working on multitudes of levels all the time, dancing inside our heads. I would like to share two of my many 'clay impulses' in this exhibition with you.

Thank you Tina – for gently coaxing me to stand up from my place of quietness and talking to myself - to come and share this space that I usually exhibit other peoples' creativity in, in an alternative way. To be a privileged participant in the conversation that this sort of opportunity, presents to all of us.

Kim's Work

IAN GARRETT

Carolyn Heydenrych

I am fascinated with ancient ceramic techniques, the methods first invented by potters almost fifteen thousand years ago. It is enormously satisfying to create vessels using only one's hands, the simplest tools and natural materials. Each piece is built with the coil and pinch technique. After careful scraping and smoothing, lines are individually impressed into the clay with the edge of mussel shell and the surface finely burnished with agate pebbles. The finished vessels are either saggar-fired to a lustrous black or pit-fired with wood and bark to create softly varied terracotta colours. Shaping and firing this way is difficult and time-consuming but imbues each vessel with a unique individuality and personality.

While deeply rooted in the past, I hope to evoke a timeless quality that can also appear strikingly modern. Reflected in my work is a creative journey of inspiration drawn from the wonderful ceramics encountered along my way: traditional African ceramics I studied and collected as a student, archaeological ceramics from all over the ancient world that I read about passionately, and contemporary studio practice that continuously expands creative possibility.

Ian's Work
Ian Demonstrating Vessel Making
Ian Demonstrating A Firing Sequence

CHRISTINA BRYER

Carolyn Heydenrych

Christina Bryer's highly trained ceramicist's hand marries the mathematics of aperiodicity with not only feminine craft (in this exhibition doilies, swatches, flounces, and indigo), but also the metaphysics of cosmic structure.

Inspired by Roger Penrose's dart and kite patterns, Bryer's eye picks up on the endlessly repeating patterns in everything from the mosaics of the Alhambra to unicellular organisms to the cross section of a strand of DNA.

This fascination still holds. The strict discipline of following prescribed grid patterns in her work gives way to a meditative and intuitive process from which straight lines, circles, rhythms and scaling emerge by themselves. "Starting with the absolute of the grid frees you to work with infinite possibilities."Bryer refrains from controlling the process which amounts to a "quest into the unfathomable depths of the web of aperiodicy."

It is a two-way dialogue. Viewers confronted with her work sense a harmonious substratum; receive glimpses of absolute principles deeply embedded in the fragile beauty of the present.

Bryer is well known for her mandala-like porcelain plates, both solid and meticulously 'cut' to allow a play of shadow and light. The evocative links between clay, star dust ('from dust to dust') and patterns contiguous with infinity are especially palpable in the latter.

Bryer exhibits widely, executes tile installation on commission, and is represented in South Africa, New York and Spain. She has won awards as a goldsmith designer (a previous occupation), was invited to exhibit her work at an international conference on cosmology in Cape Town in 2001, and has participated in an art/science collaboration in Antarctica in 2008. This year her work has been selected for the 9th International Ceramic Exhibition in Mino, Japan.

Christina's Work

THREADS OF AFRICA

Threads of Africa

The earth is watching us

Africa is a trove of earth's treasures, prized since mankind first glimpsed the shine of gold in a river, the glitter of precious stones in the sand. However, it took centuries for man to realize that he could rework these earthly gifts to enhance their beauty. In 2011, an exhibition entitled "The earth is watching us" launched an evocative project called Threads of Africa, which has seen the development of an entirely new art form – bowls and bangles hand-woven from a material so rare that it had to be created specially for the project – gold wire "thread". Now, "The Earth is Watching Us" , an exhibition at Kim Sacks Gallery in Johannesburg, showcases works from this project alongside ceramics by Christina Bryer and Ian Garrett highlighting the connection with the earth, be it clay or metal.

Threads of Africa is a collaboration between Mdukatshani Development Trust, which is based in the Thukela (Tugela) Valley in KwaZulu-Natal, and Julia Meintjes Fine Art. It dates back to 2002, when Julia was approached to assemble an art collection for a Sydney-based company, RFC Corporate Finance, which has clients in the South African mining industry. With a view to creating a relationship between the two continents, Julia aimed at combining an indigenous Australian painting with South African objects that hinted at mining or associations with the earth. When the company MD saw a bowl woven in copper by an artist from Mdukatshani, he asked whether a similar bowl could be made with gold wire, and an idea was born.

It took over two years and the surmounting of many technical, creative and logistical puzzles before Mzo Dladla completed the first small 18-carat gold bowl in 2005. This bowl was followed by others, some again in gold, some combining 18-carat gold with various coppers, silver, brass and shakudo (a Japanese alloy of two to seven per cent gold mixed with copper), as well as bangles in the same materials. The exhibition displays a range of these pieces.

Some of the project’s challenges included:

A manufacturer had to be found that could create high quality gold wire in small quantities especially for the project and comply with the strict regulations in terms of handling this metal. Note that all metals used by the project are legitimately sourced.

The weavers live in rural KZN. Most had never been to a city before, and the project has opened their eyes to a world unimagined. They travel to the City of Gold – Egoli – only when they weave their gold wire creations, which take them for a while from the security of their families, to the often-daunting big city life.

It requires great skill and patience to create the bowls. Weaving starts from the top (unlike a grass basket), using a clay pot or ukhamba as a 'skeleton'. Bangles are woven over bottles.

Every ukhamba is unique. When more contemporary forms were required, Christina Bryer, a ceramic artist with jewellery training, offered to produce ceramic moulds which could be used for creating precisely calculated designs. The first bowl for the project took eleven hours to thread because the design had to be so precise. New forms are constantly being developed and tested.

An experienced weaver may only progress one centimeter or less a day, depending on the intricacy of the design and the size of the bowl or bangle. The correct tension is vital to ensure balance and proportion, and is complicated by the fact that each metal has a different density, even if the wire is the same thickness. To widen or decrease the shape, strands have to be added or removed, while maintaining the intricacies of the design.

In 2008, the weavers produced an edition of six specially designed bowls for the University of Stellenbosch to present to select donors, and the project was formally named Threads of Africa. Echoing this beginning, Threads of Africa will make designs in limited editions of six, each documented and numbered. Specific commissions/designs will be produced if required.

A similar harmony of potter and metalworker exists between the weavers and local potters who make each "ukhamba" (clay vessel)-Zulu origin -  used by the weavers as the base for their vessels – pots that have to be broken to liberate the metalwork from its earthen base. An echo of this is the shard that is left in the metal bowl – udengezi is its Zulu name - a fragment that is used to burn aromatic twigs when communicating with the ancestors.

The weavers' work evokes the lost history of the legendary Mapungubwe, a World Heritage Site located on a hilltop near the Limpopo River. Mapungubwe has been dated to AD 1220 (earlier than Great Zimbabwe) and here the renowned golden rhino was unearthed alongside gold wire bangles and other examples of the ancient metal smiths' skill. An interesting connection across the centuries is that gold bangles and anklets found at Mapungubwe are identical to silver bangles and anklets worn by the weavers at their own community's ceremonies today.

There is a catalogue for the exhibition, and all works by the Threads of Africa project are for sale.

"Still, the dark red, orange, umber, or mineral landscape is stretches before us like the foreshadowing of a vision. [...] The burnished terracotta of the pots reflects the light [...]. The texture of each vessel’s surface is equal to our own. For the earth is watching us...the hands that moulded it have left their imprints."

(Nimrod Liane: Poet and philosopher, born in Chad 1959, writing about African pots in Terres cuites africaines, un héritage millénaire - Musèe Barbier-Mueller and Somogy éditions d'art)

 

Stories from "Threads of Africa" Project -

Ntombizini Mbatha - Threads of Africa

Ntombizini Mbatha (43) was five months pregnant when her husband, Mpikensi Ngubane, returned from Johannesburg with "piles". He was so frail he was unable to walk, and when he agreed to an AIDS test he knew he was dying. The couple went together to hospital, and when they both tested positive the nurses were blunt. "Don't wait," they told Ntombizini. "When the funeral is over come straight away for treatment."

For the first time Ntombizini's work faltered. She is a compassionate young woman with a gentle heart, and she has never complained about duty. For months she had nursed her incontinent mother-in-law. Now she nursed her husband too. They had been married for 20 years when he died, a marriage of enforced separations, but always a marriage of love.

The morning after the funeral Ntombizini was instructed to fetch wood. That was the first act of widowhood. When she returned with a headland, she was given a string, bobbins and a bundle of sedge, and was taught how to weave a grass mat. A widow's mat - one of the rituals of mourning.

"That cans is where I'm sitting all the time," she says. It's laid out on the floor under the airy thatch, a workplace where she sits contented, close to her children, but absorbed in her work.

She has always found comfort in work. Because her father abandoned the home when she was small, work became a necessity. Her mother, Phumelele, survived on beadwork - the children helped out doing that. (When the father's body was returned home after his death, the children asked that the coffin be opened - they had no recollection of their father's face).

Although work has continued to be a necessity, because of her light and sunny heart, Ntombizini turns work into fulfillment, It's a gift that has helped to carry her through life, willing the best with her gap-toothed smile, unaware of the courage in her laughter.

Equally adept at copper wire or needlework, she has supported her six children and rebuilt her home on her earnings. Nobody works harder, even during the periods when she is not well. She is a matter of fact about her status. "That disease" can be treated, and she and her three-year-old, Thandeka, are regular patients at the hospital.

Gcinani Duma - Threads of Africa

Gcinani Duma was an errand to the trading store when Deboga Dladla caught sight of her. She was a short, strong girl, who lowered her eyes, hiding a smile when he approached. He started to court her immediately - a persistent courtship that had to be discreet, out of sight of her six elder brothers.

When she finally agreed to visit his home, she was well aware of the consequences. This was the game of pretend ignorance, played by very old rules. The women of the home welcomed her, and after she had spent the night, Debosa's mother, Phangiwe, produced a new isidwaba, a pleated leather skirt, which is the formal recognition of marriage. Would she put it on "to respect the home"?

As the woman began to tie it around her waist, Gcinani tore it off, wrestled free, and ran away. It was a token resistance. She intended to be caught.

Meanwhile Doboza was on his way to her brothers, driving three goats to show his intentions were honorable.

"You're not going back," he grinned when he returned. "We've sent the goats. You're not a girl anymore. You're umfazi now."

In the 17 years since she started wearing an isidwaba, Gcinani has been a good wife to the home, carrying water, collecting wood, working in the fields - and producing fine wirework on deadline. She had never done craftwork when she was married, but her mother-in-law is a veteran beadier, and the young makoti who started training with the craft group would soon prove to be a star.

Yet Gcinani is now 41, and although she loves her work, she is aware of loss. She knows happiness is measured in children.

Threads of Africa's Work

JOHN SHIRLEY

John Shirley

My fascination with translucent bodies is a major influence in my work. I am currently working in bone-china, which I have chosen for its purity and extreme whiteness. I cast my pieces using a body I have developed with locally available materials.

I am intrigued by the interplay of light and shadow in my work and the piercing and cutting of the surface accentuates this and enhances the ethereal quality I am aiming for.

ethereal light, airy, or tenuous: an ethereal world created through the poetic imagination.

extremely delicate or refined: ethereal beauty.

heavenly or celestial: gone to his ethereal home.

John's Work

CAROLYN HEYDENRYCH

Carolyn Heydenrych

I qualified as an architect at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1985, and worked in a partnership with my husband, designing buildings countrywide, until his death in 2002.

I have worked with clay since an early age, and in my final years of high school took pottery classes with Kim Sacks. During my degree, and while practicing, I still went back to my beloved clay, and am now working as a full time ceramicist.

I am fascinated with the play of light within both stoneware and porcelain bodies. I cut windows into the large stoneware lamps, increasing window punctuation as a reference to the structure of the building as it becomes higher.

Porcelain slab-work is far more complex. Translucence differs with the overlapping of clay slabs, and windows un-pierced create a quality of the alabaster windows found in Byzantine times. When pierced, the stronger light has a more contrasting effect on the background. Pattern adds further to the dimension of depth.

I have studied the ceramics of the Mapungubwe people in Limpopo Province, and created my own interpretation of these decorated pots together with the quality of the gold foil used for the famous rhino.

The art of the Cycladic Greek Islands with plank sculptures of Goddesses have also been an inspiration for me throughout the years.

Carolyn's Work

LISA FIRER

Lisa Firer

"Going to Pieces without Falling Apart" (with thanks to Mark Epstein)

In this series of vessels, I explore what it means to feel a sense of cohesion, the sense that we are held together by the force of life in a quite miraculous way: body, mind and spirit. Some are created using separate pieces of clay that come together to form a vessel. In much the same way, we as beings, are a combination of many fragments that cohere to form vessels capable of holding such depth, creativity and beauty. We are layered, we are patterned, we are complex , we are beautiful. Other vessels are very loosely formed, with a softness that seems like it could collapse but is in fact in it’s fired state, contained and strong. We are wobbly, we are imperfect, we are unique, we are soft, we are strong.

This work is informed by my meditation practice and a direct exploration of what holds us together. I am finding that the only continuity that feels true is an open, spacious, loving connection, as best as possible, moment to moment, and breath by breath, to myself, to others and to the world. When so much threatens to pull us apart, these vessels remind me of our inherent wholeness.

I started working in porcelain in 2000 at the DK-SA artist-in-residency programme at the International Centre for ceramics, Skaelskor, Denmark. I have continued to work predominantly in this medium for the past 10 years. I work conceptually with the process of enlightenment and use the light transferring qualities of porcelain to explore this. The juxtaposition of the strength of this high fired clay and the delicacy of it when rolled very thin are also symbolic for me of the human condition, states of great strength and states of fragile vulnerability.

Lisa's Work

LOUISE GELDERBLOM

Louise Gelderblom

"I only coil, because when I coil it feels like I am busy drawing in three dimensions. The shape of the piece and the surface markings on it create a rhythm, a percussion beat that I think of as a wordless tactile language."

Louise Gelderblom's sculptural vessels are hand-constructed in the tradition of many African vessels throughout the continent. While the working methods are firmly rooted in an African clay tradition, the work is part of an urban contemporary aesthetic…

With a background in graphic design and photography, Louise has been working with clay for almost two decades.

She uses a neutral palette, distinctive rhythmic line work and carved textures to develop an urban, contemporary African aesthetic. Each surface marking is meditative and organic.

Louise's Work

PRISCILLA MOURITZEN

Priscilla Mouritzen

In recent years I have been working with porcelain clay and wood firing. The techniques I use are simple: pinching, coiling, applying slips and letting the firing's wood ash glaze the surfaces. I enjoy exploring the feelings of intimacy and expressiveness that small scale and the slightly unevenness of the pinched object gives rise to.

I return from time to time to working on a large scale, usually with terracotta clay and again using hand-building techniques.

All the pinched bowls I make are the same size: hand-sized – as far as the fingers can reach in the pinching process.

The works show an exploration of pattern in which echoes of my childhood in South Africa can be detected.

Priscilla's Work

CLEMENTINA VAN DER WALT

Clementina van der Walt

In a way we are all travelling through a life journey, our paths have crossed and re-crossed with ups and downs. We swivel on the wheel or the banding wheel or the pots we pinch, we cross - traverse - our circumstances, we look over carefully at what we do, we examine the meaning and sometimes we go counter, we challenge and thwart the effort...

The clay and our connection to Denmark are the common thread and we are friends too... our ceramic work, particularly , mine is not similar. I think Kim's and Priscilla's have a connection in terms of surfaces and textures and palette. Perhaps I am the 'counter to' this with my bright colours and so on...

Clementina's Work

KIM SACKS

Kim Sacks

TRAVERSING

In the past few months I have been moving into a place – where I once again feel pleasure and joy to call myself “a Vessel-Maker”

And to know –

That it is once again my truth.

I love the notion of moving forward to the beginning – the most difficult thing is letting go – making pots in the semi-light – feeling one’s way through the process – giving shape to things –

Dipping my fingers in buckets of slip -
Painting – scraping - creating texture – linear mainly and dots – joining dots – ohhhhhh i love this

Scraping

Layering of pigments

Very exciting

Occasionally daunting

Wanting to be with the clay more and more...

Remembering the sensation and feelings that the clay evokes...

This collection of vessels on this exhibition – comes from a very personal journey of healing....... having moved inside my being or with my spirit from a space of huge fragility, not un-like an unfired – paper-thin vessel – to a wonderful place – of strength and power – all through sitting – for hour upon hour – with a ball of clay in my hand – and letting my being – my spirit – and my intention – rest and be still... in itself.

It is possibly a strange concept to some – and maybe someone reading this – might think that I have my words mixed up – but that is not the case...

If one finds a place of gentle still-ness – then so much is allowed to flow into that place... and these pinched vessels are the result of this quietness.

Thank you for being here with me on this journey.

Kim's Work

ABOUBAKAR FOFANA

Aboubakar Fofana

Aboubakar Fofana uses ancient African weaving and dying techniques to create a solidly contemporary body of work. Using organic fibers and natural dyes, he is committed to preserving and revitalizing Mali’s nearly lost tradition of natural Indigo and vegetable dying. Profoundly concerned with maintaining Mali’s cultural heritage, he has sought out the remaining old masters of weaving and dying, learning from them their savoir-faire. He has been instrumental in planting organic cotton and indigo. He systematically encourages local craftsmen to use natural dyes rather than chemical dyes both for esthetic reasons but also for ecological and sustainable development concerns (lowering the pollution of the Niger river and of precious ground water resources).

Aboubakar is both a painter and a textile artist. His textile works range from experimental one-off art pieces and paintings to limited edition decorative hangings and home furnishing accessories as well as personal wear such as scarves, shawls and hats. Many of his pieces are created using the time-honored techniques of shibori and batik reserve dying. Aboubakar has adapted the traditional Bogolan, or mud-dying, technique to produce abstract paintings on organic jute canvases. He weaves, dyes and assembles primarily locally grown organic cotton but also employs hemp, jute, linen, silk and other un-treated fibers that are perfectly suited to natural dyes.

Aboubakar Fofana has significant experience living and working in Japan. His unique collaboration with one of Japan’s grand masters of silk raising, weaving and dying marked his evolution as an artist. He regularly participates in conferences organized internationally on textile art in general but also on more technical subjects of natural dying techniques. His work has been exhibited on numerous occasions in Japan, in France, in the U.S.A. and in Africa.

Beauty and Symbolism

Situated at the frontier between calligraphy, art and textile design, Aboubakar’s work is motivated by a driving force which makes the pieces surprisingly coherent be they one-off artworks or utilitarian pieces of applied art.  They are all united by a vivacious and rhythmic creative vocabulary so closely reminiscent of Aboubakar’s calligraphy. His palette of Indigo hues is vast and subtle. Artist and maker, he is also a sort of sorcerer who obliges the textile to respond with incredible intensity to his desires. Emotion guides his gestures.

Indigo is also an important element in the cultural heritage of Mali. It is magic and densely symbolic. Each hue has a meaning and its own traditional name.  Indigo protects newborn babies; it helps communicate with the powers of nature and the ancestors in heaven. Indigo textiles were also a measure of wealth and social status; they accompanied their owners into the afterlife.

Time is a recurrent theme, almost an obsession, in Aboubakar’s artistic works, by the textile, painting, calligraphy or photography. Time is an essential and immaterial ingredient that allows him to plunge into the depths of color and hues. Time is necessary to grow the fibers, to spin and weave them. Dying is also a question of time. As it ages, the indigo textile matures, gains in subtlety. Time increases its artistic and emotional value.

Seeing Aboubakar work with his yarns or woven pieces, sew the reserves into the textiles before washing them, plunge them into their indigo baths, rinse them and plunge them once again into their baths, is like watching a long meditation; a sort of mystical dialogue between Man and Matter.

View Aboubakar's work...

KATHERINE GLENDAY

Katherine has been working with porcelain since she graduated with a degree in fine art and ceramics in 1979. Her career of thirty two years with her medium has spanned many phases of expression and many significant awards and achievements.

Her work is to be found in many public and corporate collections in South Africa. More recently she has tended to work less as a soloist and has focused on collaborative processes between other artists and musicians and dancers.

She shows her work regularly in New York where it was recently included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Art and Design.

One thing has remained constant throughout her varied pursuits, and that is her love of translucency, and the movement of light through paper thin vessels. 

She views herself as a painter at heart, and her vessel forms as canvases in the round. Consigning her work to the firing process is the aspect of working with high fired porcelain which gives the added dimension not possible in works on canvas or paper. There are many technical and personal factors which combine in the making of a vessel, and these factors often herald the difference between an ‘airbourne and earthbound’ result.

Katherine prefers to work on series of vessels, to give expression to a given theme. Her working process can involve multiple firings and also depends on a radical selectivity to arrive at the finished body of work which she views often as an installation.

Like any artist, the extended journey with the medium as a constant has afforded Katherine a consummate mastery. Her technical ability and facility with oxide, clay and brush has been developed from her earliest works which involved a whimsy and an allegorical quality that belied the seriousness of her subject matter. Over the years her explorations of myth, symbolism, the human predicament, the inherent qualities of the natural world and the ‘dance’ between nature and humanity, have led to many different styles of work. Her mature work has become increasingly essential in nature and distilled in form.

She looks at the weaving and distilling of material culture, her own tribal roots and she celebrates the natural world as incubator, prizing technical mastery and the gift of chance as equal forces.

‘Conversation’ whether with sand and mud, or with fellow humans she sees as being a mutually calibrating process.

The physical response and ‘download’ of these interactions are what her hands and heart distill from the process she shares with us.

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CLEMENTINA VAN DER WALT

Clementina van der Walt

"The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops."
Samuel Beckett (Pozzo in Waiting for Godot)

A search for life's meaning is what has driven me to make and investigate the ceramic discipline over the past 38 years
And yet, more than ever, I have fewer answers now to either the meaning or the discipline..

I seem to flit around with various techniques and styles, striving somehow to find my own pitch. This manifests in what may appear as a somewhat schizophrenic approach to my work.

For my show at the Kim Sacks Gallery I have made a diverse repertoire of ceramic pieces.

Inspired by my exhibition in Dec 2010 at The Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town, I have made a dinner table setting where I have interpreted some of Irma Stern's portraits on small plates. Here I use a majolica glaze with in-glaze painting and soft earthy colours which create a painterly watercolour effect.

This idea of portraiture on ceramics developed further, culminating in a series of female creative icons of the 20th Century such as Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo and others.

Still fascinated by faces, and parallel to the above, I have created a wall installation of 'pop art' like stylised faces in bright colours and bold flat graphic markings using underglaze colours and transparent glazes,

Other wall pieces on show - composite tile installations - include an Adam and Eve depiction, and an exploration of 2 of Samuel Beckett’s plays – Waiting for Godot, and Happy Days.

From the wall back to the table – a number of individual utilitarian pieces where I use bright graphic underglaze colours and simple linear shapes – bowls, cups and platters. Somehow I am still always drawn back to tableware. For it is in the utensils that we use on a daily basis that we are reminded of nourishment and gratitude. I would like to think that some of the users of my ceramic forms have been enriched in their daily lives with joy and aesthetic pleasure and awareness.

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CATHERINE BRENNON

Catherine Brennon

Since 1998, when I returned to working full time in clay, my work has revolved around texture, particularly the textures found in lace and basketry, and more recently that of flowers and leaves.

The clay's natural ability to echo some of these materials intrigues me. Much of the lace I use was inherited from my Grandmother, or given to me, over time by various friends and associates. The lace can be used over and over again, and provides an endless source of pattern.  No two pieces are ever the same and can be reconfigured endlessly.

By using paper clay (clay with added cellulose) I am able to create fine, light ware that is often mistaken for porcelain. The penetration of light through open areas of pattern, has become an important aspect of this body of work. Most of my work is hand built, using paper clay.  I use various sizes of bisque bowls, (which I make on the wheel), which act as supports and forms into which the clay is placed, while the bowls dry.

All the work is bisqued fired to 1000c and then glaze fired to 1060c in an electric kiln.  I have endeavored to keep the work "warm" and organic by choosing to work with a white earthenware body, along with a few transparent, and coloured glazes.  I rub oxides into  the surface before I glaze the work to give it a feeling of definition and "softness" in the lines of the piece.

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LISA RINGWOOD

Lisa Ringwood

Lisa's ceramics draws from the past but remains very much in the present. She is inspired by daily life and nature. She works with stoneware clay and Sgraffito painting with slips, underglazes and oxides. She enjoys colour and the emotions and nostalgic memories that it can evoke she finds that different colour combinations can be quite delicious! Her work is hand-built and can trace an organic tie back to the earth from which it was shaped, it speaks of unhurried observation and care. She achieves this without subscribing to symmetry or commercial uniformity giving each piece their unique personality.

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HEATHER MILLS

Heather Mills

Heather's focus is on the tradition of hand thrown ceramics. Her work is delicately and skillfully thrown on the wheel, using white stoneware clay. The pieces are coated with a white ceramic medium, into which intricate, gentle and subtle designs are incised using the sgraffito technique. Texture is introduced by applying pearl like protrusions on the surface of the clay.

Her classic white signature style with its simple, elegant forms and highly ornate decoration is distinctive. Integrity, attention to detail and quality are essential components in her methodology. Heather's finely crafted pieces are intended for use and aspire to be enjoyed.

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