UNCONDITIONAL MAGAZINE / by Romy Northover

Thrilled to be featured in the first edition of UNCONDITIONAL MAGAZINE

Ceramic objects have always been with us, since the beginning of what is called civilization. In wall paintings across time, are images of clay vessels. It is the one medium at which all cultures experimented and excelled, driven by their basic need for things with which to carry: water and wine, grain and dirt. These objects played an essential role in the real life of people and communities, but they weren’t simply functional. Ceramics act as archives; they preserve and record everything about the time in which they existed. The true substance of ceramics is not, in fact, the clay, but time and the hands that shaped it. Each step, from concept to throwing to kiln, takes place over different times; each producing changes in the clay, until, upon firing, it has been irreversibly transformed. The finished ceramic object cannot be undone; it is permanent. Non-corrosive, non-recyclable and non-polluting, it is exceptionally strong, almost impossible to compress, and yet breakable. 

Unlike painting, that speaks directly to the eye, or sculpture that emulates the human form, ceramics is unique because its expression and its meaning is derived directly through touch. After decades of neglect, the medium is once again thriving. it's a bit unexpected, that in a world so focused on the present, that this most ancient of all artistic forms would experience a revival. But here we are. Today, a new group of artists are working with clay and benefiting from the renewed interest. Each of these ceramicists is working in and around New York, but they arrived here from (and have worked in) very different environments. Each has a distinct approach but they are all, in their own way, rewriting the future of this ancient practice. - NICHOLAS GOODMAN

PHOTOGRAPHY by ALEXANDRA NATAF

ROMY NORTHOVER Q&A

How did you become interested in this medium?

I’ve made art in all kinds of material but ceramics is the one. The one I excelled in, the one people respond to, and the one I come back to - I can do whatever I want in clay, its always made sense - I like the direct physical response. Its very simple and yet complex. Its my way of communicating.

 

What kind of artistic training do you have

My parents were my initial introduction to the arts & design. they are both very knowledgeable and have exceptional taste. We travelled growing up, which I think is hugely important for perspective. I did a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College London which is a very conceptual. When I moved to NYC I found a Japanese run studio Togei Kyoshitsu. It was there that I learned the Japanese techniques in ceramics that I now combine with my knowledge of European ceramics. I had previously studied ceramics in secondary school at GCSE and A Level in the U.K. under a phenomenal teacher who encouraged me to work on a large scale, which is still my favourite way to work.

Craft is like a sport, or an instrument, it takes practice, and education can come in so many valuable forms, which is different for everyone, but I do feel formal training has been useful. Fundamentally because once I knew how to let go, it provided me with independence. I’m also just deeply in love with ceramics - That feeling when you realise the more you learn about something, the more you realise how little you know, and it opens up like a universe.

 

Describe your creative process. What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?

It is integral. My inspirations and how I go about making work can vary greatly from day to day. What I put in affects me greatly, I can get elevated by nature, totally floored by a beautiful interior, exhilarated by a cosmetic pallet, or reduced to tears by a sound! so I have become kind of rigorous with my personal structure; when I wake, exercise, eat, sleep etc. I absolutely have rituals, I try to live by my body. If that is in place, I feel at liberty in my imagination, and ultimately get more work done! to quote a clever film maker - ‘water the root, enjoy the fruit’!

 

How would you describe yourself and your work?

Ancient Future

 

In what environment/time/space do you feel most inspired?

Open spaces, fresh air, light, morning - simple pleasures that come at a high price in NYC, but this city makes up for it in serendipity and magic!

 

When you work do you build off a certain image in your mind, or do you seek inspiration as you progress?

I have visions certainly, but they can transform as I work them through - I explore through ceramics itself. It is a very flexible medium with many variables, it gives me endless challenges, and answers, it’s my translator. I do a lot of research, investigate what I consider to be quality information, luckily thats all also my idea of a good time!

Which artists/movements in art influenced and inspired you when you began? Who do you look to now for inspiration?

I enjoy it when I see integrity in the creative process, something that I consider to be timeless. I love aspects of sculpture, photography, high end design, clothes, but equally primitive arts, wood, stone, nature, the metaphysical. In my world my concept of exquisite beauty reigns supreme, It’s my joie de vivre! But it absolutely doesn’t have to be immaculate - It’s also present in impermanence, irregularity, imperfection, humor! I have a wonderful intimacy with my aesthetic, yet always enjoy the surprise and discovery from finding new things, and rediscovering long time loves.

To name a few:Miles Davis, Eileen Gray, Iggy Pop, Tina Chow, Salman Rushdie, Helmut Newton, Tapio Wirkkala, Lucie Rie, Axel Vervoordt, and of course The chawan (tea bowl)!

 PHOTOGRAPH by ALEXANDRA NATAF

PHOTOGRAPH by ALEXANDRA NATAF

UNCONDITIONAL MAGAZINE is out now a beautiful and considered editorial - you can buy it online of in select reatilers