Inspired by both the past and the future, artist and ceramicist Romy Northover draws from historical processes and describes her style as “ancient future.” After hearing about a few ceramicists who have influenced her work, we were curious about her own history with ceramics and where she plans to take the art form next.
1) Tell us about your personal history with ceramics. Where did it all start for you?
“I can’t remember the first time I worked with clay– but that doesn’t mean much, because anyone who knows me will tell you I have a frighteningly bad memory! However, making things has always been integral. My parents and family on both sides are all in creatives fields, so it was very natural for me to be exposed to and encouraged to work with materials.”
2) Your training and experience in the medium seems pretty unique. Can you tell us a little about the progression? Where have you studied and practiced until now?
“In England, I went to a school that had a fully-equipped ceramics department run by an excellent teacher, so I was very fortunate that I could take ceramics for GCSE and A-level. At my school, it was taken seriously and considered a subject in its own right. So often ceramics was just looped into a small section of the art department. I knew at this point that I was meant to do ceramics at some point, but I wasn’t ready to commit!
I went to Goldsmiths College in London, an art school with an intensely conceptual approach. I worked a lot with video, space, installations, and assemblages. I continued to practice art for 10 years and exhibited in Europe, while supplementing my practice with multiple odd jobs– in fashion, waitressing, receptionist etc… I was like a rudderless boat in my 20s. I moved around a lot, lived in different countries. I was on the hunt but I didn’t know what for, so more often than not, I was the one feeling hunted!
When I moved to New York 5 years ago, everything changed for me– in a city like New York everything is magnified. I was forced to examine what I wanted. I felt I had lost the material connection. It took everything I had to go back to ceramics, to start again. I was terrified of f*ing it up! I quit alcohol, took up Kundalini. Then I found Togei Kyoshitsu, a Japanese-run studio in Manhattan, and from there things started to fall into place. I learned to throw the Japanese method ‘Rokuro’ and immersed myself in my practice one-hundred percent. This week I moved to an incredibly beautiful, white, open studio space in Long Island City– so I’m very much looking forward to this new chapter!”
3) Last thing– how do you see the future of your practice developing in the near or distant future?
“There is so much I want to do right now, but I have to remember to be patient. You can’t rush ceramics or it will put you in your place! I’m currently working on a couple of custom collections for clients in Europe, alongside longer term projects of exploring different mediums in relation to ceramics, both in glass and jewelry. [I would love to work on] ceramics as installation– in space and outside, and on large-scale– and on one-of-a-kind works for interiors. Above all else, within my practice, I want to be flexible, reactive, and to trust my instincts.”
Shop the Indigo Terracotta Planter by Romy Northover here.
Images by Justin Cheng and Alexandra Nataf.