Intricacies reflect South African tradition

Bumps, dents, thorns and prickles. Jacqui Clarke's ceramics are covered with them and she thinks they're a legacy of her South African heritage.
'I always loved the masks and fetishes that you see in Africa,' she says. 'Some people find them gruesome or confronting but I think they're uplifting.
She tells me about the fetish objects she's seen which have nails stuck into their heart or eyes. 'The tradition is not like voodoo where you nail a part of the body to do harm - with these, the metal into the heart area for example is believed to give strength.'
She is also interested in the scarification and tattooing that happens in African cultures, with wood ash rubbed into wounds to create ridges and bumps on the skin.
Clarke is one of many artists currently working on pieces for the annual King Street Artworks exhibition, which opens at Aratoi on 15 July. 'There's six month's work on this table,' she says, highlighting the amount of effort that goes into the exhibition - and suggesting she'd like to have more to show for her labours! But the detail and delicacy of her work is hard won, not least because of the many processes involved in working with clay.
Clarke first came to King Street around three years ago. She has lived in New Zealand with her husband and two children for 15 years. There was a lot of upheaval and adjustment for the family, and Clarke desperately needed some time out for herself. She says the decision to come to King Street was a turning point.
'I come from an artistic family and I have been working in clay since I was 14, but I had never exhibited my work and I'd never found my voice artistically. I feel it's there now and King Street has a lot to do with it.'
The in-house ceramic teachers Leanne Taylor and Sam Dukor Jones have shown her different techniques, and challenged her to work on a large scale and tackle sculptural as well as practical pieces. Other King Street artists have inspired her and ensured there is always plenty of creative discussion as they all strive for the results they want. Exhibiting at Aratoi and the resulting feedback completes the necessary 'loop' for artists, says. Clarke.
'If you want, King Street can be a passive place where you are left to do what you want, but on another level, it is an amazing and unique teaching environment. Where else can you find that?'
'The Dilemma of Titles' - King Street Artworks, Aratoi, 15 July - 21 August.