London-based Artist: Barry Sack

4 Minute Read

HomeLearning CenterJewelry DesignLondon-based Artist: Barry Sack
By Thomas FrechetteMore from this author

Barry Sack is a London-based artist who also works and lives in his native South Africa. Barry is a painter, sculptor and enameler, and has been working in artistic pursuits full-time for over 15 years, after leaving a career in the business community. He apprenticed with architectural enameler Vera Ronnen for 10 years, and now works on his own, periodically assisting Ms. Ronnen on various projects.

Barry Sack
Purple Figure. Jewelry enamels on etched copper. 120 x 100 mm.

Barry's work is mainly commission architectural pieces; often installed in office buildings, or as wall or door panels in residential applications. While Mr. Sack's work appears to be very spontaneous and fluid, he goes through an exacting process of developing each piece for installation. A project is first specified, usually by an architect, and discussion is conducted about joint work to devise suitable solutions to the project. A competitive proposal is presented, and if the commission is accepted, sketches are made and models are constructed. Depending on size of the work, factory space to create the piece is found, or if the project is small enough, work is done in Barry's London studio, where he is able to fire in a specially constructed furnace, which will handle pieces up to 750mm x 1000mm. The commission pieces usually involve several months of modeling and final work production. Smaller pieces for exhibition and sale are created on an ad hoc basis.

Pink Figure. Jewelry enamels on etched copper. 120 x 100 mm.

Most pieces are created on zero carbon steel, which is prepared with a factory-sprayed ground coat prior to applying opaque and transparent jewelry enamel. Barry also enjoys working on copper using transparent enamels, to allow the brilliance of the raw metal to be highlighted by the depth and color of the enamel.

Trees. Jewelry enamels on etched copper. 150 x 120 mm.

Barry primarily works by sifting fine, thin layers of enamel onto the metal, "as they create the finest finishes, and maximize the transparency potential." As with many artists working in enamel, Barry finds the transparency and vibrancy of enamel colors most appealing. He is also attracted to the durability of the material, and it's ability to be used outdoors in architectural situations.

Japanese Print. Jewelry enamels on etched copper. 120 x 100 mm.

He often works by sandwiching opaque enamels between layers of transparents, to give the work depth and give the imagery the appearance of 'floating' above the metal base. His work is fired to smooth glassy finishes, as he doesn't care for a textured surface; it's "…unprofessional to me. [It] has to be [a] glass-like perfect surface, due to my training under Vera Ronnen, who is a perfectionist!"

Spirit of Life. Jewelry enamels on steel. 300 x 500 mm.

As an enameler, Barry is, of course, inspired by his teacher and mentor Vera Ronnen, and also receives inspiration from other artists such as Paul Klee and Mark Rothko. Subject matter which influences him is, for the most part, nature, and there is a strong influence from water in particular, which is evident in much of his work through a feeling of movement and fluidity. Moods also guide his work; the emotional response to how he is feeling at the time influence his art.

Jamie's - Blue - Abstract. Jewelry enamels on steel. 500 x 600 mm.

Barry sells his work through commissions, exhibitions and private gallery shows. He has held several solo exhibitions in the past few years, including ones at Millennium Gallery, Camden, London in 2002/3, Joao Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa in 2003, Everard Read Gallery, also in Cape Town, South Africa in 2004, and Florence Fine Art, Bloomsbury, London in 2005.

Freeform Abstract. Jewelry enamels on steel. 160 x 160 mm.

His installation work for Dresdner Bank in London is perhaps his most well-known public installation to date. The project consists of eight enameled forms, seven of which are wall mounted, and the eighth passes through the main reception window. Two forms are suspended to the left of the reception desk and the remainder are in the seating area. Installation of this work was done alone, and Barry humorously remarks that he "looked more like a laborer than an artist, lugging them around the factory where they were being made." Visitors to the area are welcome to view them; the installation is in the Main reception area of Dresdner Bank in Swan Lane, London. Earth, Fire, Air and Water are each depicted in abstract forms, and culminate in the combination of all the elements in the form which passes through, and is suspended by, the main reception window.

Hieroglyphic. Jewelry enamels on steel 300 x 500 mm.

Barry hopes to continue commission work, and he "love[s] architectural applications of enamel." He also wishes to work in smaller paintings in enamel, as well. Additional examples of Barry's work, as well as contact information and current exhibition schedule can be found and viewed on his website,

Dresdner Kleinwort Benson Bank Commission - "Quarried Elements" utilizing the lines associated with quarried rock forms, is the principle design concept for the commission.
By Thomas Frechette [Volume 25, Number 3, June, 2006]
In association with
glass on metal
Glass on Metal is the only publication dedicated to enameling and related arts. Technical information, book reviews, how-to articles and insight on contemporary enamelers highlight each issue.

You assume all responsibility and risk for the use of the safety resources available on or through this web page. The International Gem Society LLC does not assume any liability for the materials, information and opinions provided on, or available through, this web page. No advice or information provided by this website shall create any warranty. Reliance on such advice, information or the content of this web page is solely at your own risk, including without limitation any safety guidelines, resources or precautions, or any other information related to safety that may be available on or through this web page. The International Gem Society LLC disclaims any liability for injury, death or damages resulting from the use thereof.

Thomas Frechette

The All-In-One Jewelry Making Solution At Your Fingertips

When you join the Ganoksin community, you get the tools you need to take your work to the next level.

Become a Member

Trusted Jewelry Making Information & Techniques

Sign up to receive the latest articles, techniques, and inspirations with our free newsletter.