View Menu   Kim Sacks

Vessel Maker

Kim Sacks as born on December 17th 1956 – in Johannesburg, South Africa. She spent the first 18 years of her life in South Africa; she then left her beloved African shores and spent the next 12 years travelling, researching and documenting crafts. Looking at craft-production and people’s historical connection to their material culture.

She was first introduced to clay at the age of 12 years old, by a school- teacher and has been working in that medium ever since. She is an internationally known ceramicist and teacher. Her work is in major public and private collections around the world. She has a masters training, in ceramics and glass from the Danish School of Design – in Copenhagen Denmark – (She studied in Denmark from 1978 to 1981).

She also studied textile design in 1974 at the Bok Street Art School in Johannesburg. She was in her youth always torn between becoming a textile designer or a ceramicist.

She has also spent many years of her life studying aspects relating to the production of cloth, and it’s significance in the cultural lives of people. She studied and learned many techniques used in the production of non-industrial textiles all over the world, from Asia to Africa and the Americas. Some of the areas of her research were techniques of weaving, textile design and dyeing with natural plant materials.

Besides working as a professional, exhibiting ceramicist she is the director of the Kim Sacks School of Ceramics, in Johannesburg- South Africa.

Since her return to South Africa in 1986 – from Denmark – she has been involved in training some of South Africa’s most prominent ceramic names. She has provided bursaries for students who were unable to pay for their own training. She has had an ongoing commitment through her life, to the upliftment of people and communities through craft.

She is also the director of the Kim Sacks Gallery in Johannesburg which specialises in the promotion and exhibiting of cutting edge, Contemporary South African Design, Fine Craft and Folk Art, and indigenous Cultural Artefacts.

Her gallery is known both nationally and internationally for its comprehensive collections and exhibitions of Tribal art coming from every corner of the African continent.

She at present lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is married to Swiss Clock Maker, Cornelius Lehr, and has two daughters Maia and Tali. After 48 years of working with clay she is still fascinated and passionate about her medium it is definitely an integral part of her very essence.

She continues to teach ceramics 4 times a week from her new ceramic space and school, situated behind her gallery on Jan Smuts avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg. She is still passionately involved in training and sharing her life-long pursuit of Ceramics and Hand-Made objects with students and scholars from all over the world.

In January 2022 Kim opened a new Craft Art space behind her existing gallery. The new space comprises of a ceramic school and studio on the ground floor and a huge light and white space on the first floor. This second space is designed to be many different things. It is a second exhibition space on the gallery premises, as well as, designed to accommodate guest teachers, artist residencies and workshop facilitators from around the world. It is called “the Maker’s space”. What are planned are workshops and tuition in textiles, paper art and anything else that we think would contribute to notions of making, constructing and creating.

A space to create a sense of profound well being to the people who chose to come and work and learn in this enthralling multi-faceted environment.

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.