Zhu Ohmu - Meet the potter who plays with gravity

Lorena Meouchi, L'Officiel , February 1, 2021
Attracted by the organic silhouettes found in nature and also in the human body, Zhu Ohmu explores through ceramics the relationship between human, machine and ecology in the contemporary world.
Images courtesy of the artist.


Life has taken Zhu Ohmu through different scenarios: originally from Taipei, in Taiwan, she emigrated to New Zealand and, finally, to Australia. "I've been producing art for as long as I can remember: once, a classmate from school exchanged her mother's gold ring for one of my drawings; my mother made me return it the next day," recalls the potter. 


Ohmu graduated from the Elam School of Fine Arts with honors in 2011, finding a deep connection with materials through touch. “I started collecting plants and made amoebic pots by pinching air-dried clay. I felt renewed by the stimulated feelings of a kinesthetic awareness as I developed the form, thus my practice with ceramics was born, ”she explains.

Images courtesy of the artist.


The artist makes vases of overflowing silhouettes, reminiscent of the mechanical process of 3D printing, only made by hand . "They arose intuitively like that - fallen, crooked; the forms seem to flow and descend inwards. Dictated by the weight of the wet clay, these vessels are often pushed to their structural limits and many have collapsed,” she says.


Through experimentation, the artist developed a new language that no machine is capable of replacing . "I experiment with a transitional space, where clay vacillates between form and amorphous." Never having any formal training as a potter, she approached work with a philosophy that could be applied to life itself: "Don't care, things fall apart." 


Images courtesy of the artist.


After several fractures in her early works, she adopted the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which "means embracing the imperfections of things, the beauty of the irregular and the deteriorated." Radically accepting those qualities that make up the history of an object, she later included in her work the Japanese philosophy of Kintsukuroi, the art of fixing broken ceramics with golden lacquer. "The flaws are not hidden but are highlighted and stylized, embodying the sustainability of visible repair."


She is also the founder of Women In Contemporary Art since 2013, an online platform that promotes the works of women artists. Soon, she will have her first solo exhibition at Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, in the city of Sydney, Australia.

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