Romy Northover, Ceramicist

Ten years ago, Romy Northover was a student at Goldsmith College, an incredibly conceptual art school in London that she found to be grueling. “I’m a kinesthetic learner,” says the now Brooklyn-based ceramicist. “I figure things out by doing them, not just by thinking about them. I’m not an intellectual; it’s more experiential for me. But those were important years because they got me to where I am now.” Today, Northover — who refers to her work as “ancient future” — has become known for producing pieces using a technique known as Rokuro. This Japanese method of throwing has the clay thrown “off the hump” and a wheel that spins in the opposite direction of Western throwing. Having been inspired by Japanese techniques (in part through her collaborations with ceramic artist Shino Takeda, her partner in the housewares brand / supper club known as Katakana) Northover says she has begun experimenting with kinstugi, which entails repairing broken ceramics using lacquer and powdered gold, with the understanding that a piece is more beautiful for having been broken. We recently visited Northover’s studio to learn more about what she’s been working on.IMG_0081Planter2_0159
Describe your most recent project and how it was made:
“I feel very connected to ancient, primitive arts and to raw surfaces and textures. But I’m equally into super refined design, styling, and modernist forms. I like the dichotomy in technique, balance, form, and the experiential process.”

“I recently started using more slips instead of glaze. Slip-wear is an old technique of decorating ceramics using liquid clay. I’m into the dry texture; I like to see movement in the material, and when it cracks. It feels more sculptural, more about space. The motion of the brush is simple and instantaneous. I work in collections, and what I’m into is always moving, progressing, and changing. This collection has a lot to do with intuition, movement, space and liberty.”object-blk_9598IMG_0509
Describe your next project and how you’re currently making it:
“I’m developing these small sculptural objects — forms in black clay or white porcelain, occasionally with gold accents, using the kintsugi method of lacquer and powdered gold. With this collection, I want to show the character of clay and its natural behavior, but I also want to celebrate lacquer and gold, which are also found elements in this wild world.”
Tell us one thing that’s been inspiring you lately and why:
“I have been listening to Iggy Pop’s show on BBC radio 6 on Sundays and that gives me so much joy. Iggy Pop is a superstar, so full of life, knowledge, and so real. I also saw this band OOIOO (above) perform a couple of weeks ago and they totally blew my mind. It was such a visceral experience. You can feel music through your entire being — I’m no musician, but that translates. Ceramics involves the body to such an extent, and seeing artists who are so phenomenally talented, and so into what they do, makes me want to go deeper and deeper into what I do.”studio-windowsil_0002
Show us your studio and tell us what you like about it:
“I love my studio! I’m at the Clay Space in Greenpoint right next to the water so there’s a feeling of openness and big skies. The sun streams in the kitchen window in the early morning, and sets over Manhattan in the evening. In the mornings the studio is quiet, so I can work alone; at other times it’s very active. I like that, and I appreciate the people I share with greatly. There is a real mix of styles, talents and techniques. There is always so much more to learn with ceramics and we all share information. Happily the ceramic world is a generous one.”
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