View Menu   Kim Sacks

Vessel Maker

Kim Sacks

Kim Sacks was born in December 1956 – in Johannesburg, South Africa. She spent the first 18 years of her life and South Africa – she then left her beloved African shores and spent the next 10 years travelling – researching & documenting crafts – craft-production – and people’s historical connection to their material culture.

She was first introduced to clay at the age of 12 years old – and has been working in that medium ever since.

She is an internationally known Ceramicist, Curator and Teacher. Her ceramic work is in major public and private collections in South Africa and in many countries around the world.

She has a masters training from the Danish School of Design – in Copenhagen Denmark, in Ceramics & Glass. She also studied textile design, in 1974, at the Bok Street Art School, in Johannesburg. She has had a life-long parallel passion for Textiles, and has spent a huge part of her life, travelling and documenting makers of different textiles, across the world.

On her return from Denmark in 1986, she founded the Kim Sacks School of Ceramics in Johannesburg. This school is still a thriving centre where ceramics is promoted, taught and made on a part-time basis. From August, we will be moving to our new ceramic space, which will be housed at the back of the gallery property in Parkwood. Once again, after many years, there will be more opportunity to study ceramics on a more full-time basis, and possibly even pursue some kind of apprenticeship programme.

She has been involved in training – some of South Africa’s most prominent ceramic names such as Deborah Bell, Anthony Shapiro, Paul de Jongh, Lisa Firer, Jabu Nene, Loren Kaplan, Carolyn Heydenrych, Ozolo Ntshali, Zenzani Mazibuko, Caroline Schultz Vierra, Madoda Fani just to name a few.

Besides being a well-known internationally known ceramicist, she is also the director of the Kim Sacks Gallery – in Johannesburg – which specialises in cutting edge, Contemporary South African Design – Fine Craft and Folk Art – Her gallery is also known both nationally and internationally for it’s comprehensive collections and exhibitions of Tribal Art and Contemporary Fine-Craft and Design – coming from every corner of the African continent.

She at present lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is married to Swiss Trained, Clock Maker – Cornelius Lehr and has two adult children, Maia and Tali. After a life time of working with clay – she is still fascinated and passionate about her medium – it is definitely an integral part of her very essence.

Kim’s Inspiration

The collection of vessels that I have been working on for the last year are a group of creative explorations that I have taken myself on, in my journey from the last body of work that Clementina, Priscilla and I exhibited a year or so ago.

I have carried on making pinched and coiled vessels. Working with different clay bodies, exploring textures – pigments – and minerals that I have harvested from different travels as well as ground scrapings from the rocks that form part of my magical surroundings in my garden in Johannesburg.

Mixing aggregates into the clays and creating resonances and conversations with the different materials. Surfaces that emerge, layered, like my thoughts, moving through the process of making and construction.

Experimenting with all the different materials, scratching, painting, inlay and scraping – layers of pigment and textures. Squeezing the clay between my fingers – feeling it’s essence and ability to be filled with so much possibility.

I find this whole process of experimentation and discovery enthralling and almost like the emotions that one experiences when one falls in love. One’s senses become acutely fine-tuned. I become distracted when I am not making. My mind drifts constantly back to the processes that I am involved in. My thoughts stray in conversations – always back to the vessel that has been put aside on my work-surface – to be returned to – when time allows.

The second collection of vessels evokes a whole set of different responses for me, as it is a collection of thrown vessels. I have not thrown at all, since I embarked on my “pinch-pot-journeys” two years ago. Up until very recently, it did not seem a very pressing issue at all.

In the last 2 months, a friend of mine Paul de Jongh came to Jozi to do a Raku Firing for us at my school and I went into my workshop to find some bisqued pieces that I could put into the Raku firing. After the firing, I examined what the kiln had given to us – and a particular bottle really ignited something in my imagination.

The vessel’s shape and surface enthralled me so much, that I wedged up a whole lot of porcelain clay and spent some very peaceful and meditative days throwing vessels and bottle-shapes at my wheel, just enjoying the sensual and meditive joy that I always feel from being at one with my wheel, clay and thoughts.

I had planned to Raku these vessels. But as things would have it, I did not get the opportunity to do that – but their pleasing forms inspired me to glaze them for this exhibition. The shapes of these pieces evoke the notion of vessels having been constructed with white paper or thin cardboard.

Looking at this whole collections of vessels, the pinched forms giving the feeling of ancient artifacts from long ago, having re-surfaced after hundreds of years, of being hidden or buried, from another time, juxtaposed next to these crisp white thrown forms, almost makes one wonder if the same hand could have crafted all these objects, so disparate, speaking such different voices. I almost wondered if they should reside in the same space.

I reflect on this notion. What our creativity comprises of – all the magic that dances and resides inside ourselves, and occasionally is allowed to surface, come to the fore and join us at our tables and give us the pleasure of time well spent and treasured in the making process.

Thank you Tina – my friend – for coaxing me to stand up from my place of quietness and talking to myself – to come and dance and sit with you, and share magical moments- sharing what we do – A pause in our quietness – at our eloquent table.

  • Get in Touch

    To contact Kim, please send her a message using the form on the contact page.