Martine Jackson is a ceramic artist based in Cape Town. She is known for her distinctive organic-shaped vessels, bold pattern language and rich, glazed surfaces. She approaches each piece primarily as a sculptural medium whose dynamic tension comes from the interplay of three-dimensional form and two-dimensional surface.
Jackson’s work is heavily influenced by nature. Her abstract forms are often based on rugged mountainscapes, marine life and the female form. Her pieces seem to grow from one another, reproducing like offspring from a single organism or clippings from a parent plant. She works intuitively, absorbing her environment and finding inspiration in all forms of design – architectural, fashion and landscape design.
Largely monochromatic, her work is animated by contrast: dark versus light, volume versus flat surface, control versus surprise. “My work always seems to take me to this place of wrestling with opposing things. I’m trying to find that elusive point of stability and balance,” she says. This is most striking in the repetitive patterns and lines that accentuate the vessel’s shape and imbue it with cohesion and harmony.
She finds meditation in the laborious ceramic process – coiling by hand followed by multiple rounds of firing and glazing – and in the level of detail required to create her intricate patterns. “Working with clay is a humbling process. There are elements of surprise and disappointment when a pot collapses or a glaze runs.
It holds a mirror up to life – you can’t force it and if you don’t get the foundation right, everything will collapse.”
Jackson graduated from the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2000, where she majored in graphic design, but began her practice in ceramics in 1998. She works and teaches at the Barbara Jackson School of Ceramics founded in 1978 by her late mother. An established ceramicist in South Africa, Barbara introduced Jackson to clay at the young age of five. She continues the creative lineage that dates back to her late grandfather who was a sculptor.
She exhibited at SMAC Gallery’s group ceramic show in 2020, has been selected for Southern Guild’s annual collections since 2015, and has been a collaborating artist at The Fourth since 2020. She has also exhibited internationally from New York and London, to Oslo and Hamburg. Commissions include work for Singita’s luxury safari lodges, Delaire Graff’s owner’s villa and the V&A Waterfront Marina, a cluster of nine apartment buildings in Cape Town. Her work has also been acquired for prestigious private art collections locally and abroad.