Nora Kovats

Published: 05.05.2023


Nora Kovats is a contemporary jewelry designer, illustrator, writer, and botanical enthusiast from South Africa. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Contemporary Jewellery Design and a Master's in Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University, she began to establish herself as a jewelry artist specializing in contemporary enamelwork. In 2016 she moved her atelier to Berlin, where she lived for four years, exhibiting both in Germany and internationally on a regular basis. Recently, Nora relocated to the picturesque town of Bamberg in Bavaria.

Nora acts as an ambassador for the hand-crafted. She sincerely believes that a way towards a positive future for humankind is through promoting creative expression and inspiring the act of imagining in others.


As an "identity-hopper", both South-African and European, I am interested in the way stories, layered over each other countless times, construct how humans think about themselves. Identities are infinitely complex and fragmented compositions - overlapping, fragile and fluid, yet so powerfully definitive. I attempt to represent this idea visually in the form of complicated, multi-layered structures in my jewellery and watercolour paintings: stories-in-stories-in-stories. I am particularly fascinated by boundaries. Can one even say precisely where one entity ends and another start? The closer you look, the more difficult drawing a clear line becomes. At a microlevel, boundaries become pixelated, see-through; holes open up to porous membranes that permit a glimpse beyond.

My work is largely botanically inspired, perhaps influenced by my childhood in South Africa. Gardens can be metaphors for identities, always growing, evolving, spilling over their boundaries. The image of the garden unites the desire to organize and discipline nature - that need for boundaries - with the equally human urge to be unconstrained, free, to break through boundaries.

Fire – heating metal and enamelling – is my language of creating. I am drawn to enamelling as a technique because of its uniqueness and its seductive possibility for spontaneity, dictated by the firing process. My method is becoming more experimental as I am growing in my practice, savouring the burns and scars of this haphazard process. Enamel dust is thrown at the metal almost violently, layer upon layer, then ground off again, scraped, colours bleeding into one another, bruised, fired over again until I achieve that mottled brightness fringed with the burn. I love the immediacy and the rhythm of this process; I breathe it when I work. Yet it cannot be completely impulsive, there are natural laws to be obeyed, melting temperatures and properties of metals to consider, the language of the colours to respect. Enamelling is the marriage of something wild and untameable with an ordered, measured, law-abiding other.

Tidal Pool Creatures & Other Recollections - Romanian Jewellery Week
Kneeling at the edge of a tidal pool, I find myself drawn to its otherworldliness: Strange and intriguing precisely because it is just out of reach; a foreign environment to touch and observe but never belong. I find myself reaching for memories from a time when I lost myself in otherworlds more frequently, a time when recollections, experiences and wishful thinking merged. When the poetry of an idea, of a story, was more powerful than its claim to reality. To a time when paradise had not yet been driven from the face of the earth, but was still believed to be lingering somewhere on the fringes of the map, beyond this ocean or that mountain range.
This group of imaginary creatures has emerged from a fantastical microcosm where life has co-evolved in mysterious and fascinating ways, and where our constructed categories, our notions of entities with neat boundaries, are questioned. This is a merging of worlds, a botanical-animal-fungi-underwater hybrid tapestry of life, whose creatures are messengers weighed with distant memories of wonderment.

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Events      View / hide events

Workshop  22 Jul 2023 - 24 Jul 2023  Experimental Enamelling. A workshop with Amanda Denison.
Exhibition  03 Nov 2022 - 13 Nov 2022  Between Spaces by Tim Udvardi-Lakos.
Exhibition  21 May 2022 - 07 Nov 2022  Conversation: International Exhibition of Enamel on Metal.
Exhibition  04 Dec 2021 - 19 Dec 2021  Winter Exhibitions at NONNE 11.
Exhibition  30 Sep 2021 - 03 Oct 2021  Plus One II.
Fair  30 Sep 2021 - 03 Oct 2021  Romanian Jewelry Week 2.0.
Exhibition  13 Oct 2019 - 03 Nov 2019  Now Now.

Publications      View / hide publications

Article:  Enameling as Creative Studio Practice. Dance with Enamels by Nora Kovats. Kovats, NoraKlimt02:  Barcelona,  2020
Online Article:  The Pomegranate – a Mythological Exploration. Kovats, NoraNora Kovats:  Berlin,  2020
Magazine:  LAY OF THE LAND: CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY IN A CHANGING SOUTH AFRICA. Fenn, GeraldineMetalsmith:  Eugene,  2019
Volume 39 no. 2, Pages 26-27.
Newspaper:  Aus dem Vollen schöpfen. Maier, AnjaTAZ:  Berlin,  2019
23/24th March 2019, Page 23.
Online Article:  The Power of Selective Storytelling: Avoiding the Dark. Kovats, NoraNora Kovats:  Berlin,  2019
Online Article:  Tendence sets the new season trends. Cowell, CharlotteGifts & Greetings Review:  2018
6th of July, 2018.
Magazine:  Hessischer Staatspreis für Kunsthandwerk 2018. Maaß, RolfKulturexpress:  Frankfurt,  2018
Published 4th July 2018.
Magazine:  SA Contemporary Jewellery Awards Exhibition 2018: Special Mention Nora Kovats. Creative Feel:  South Africa,  2018
Edition 04/2018.
Online Article:  2013 Thuthuka Jewellery winners announced. Cohn, TarynArtslink:  South Africa,  2013