Since our store has just received some beautiful new work by NO., we wanted to share an interview we had with ceramicist Romy Northover this past summer. Ever since we discovered Romy’s unusual pieces, we just can’t seem to get enough of them. We love the wide range of tones and textures she uses, as well as her distinctly uneven glazes. When she isn’t making her own work (under the name NO.), Romy collaborates with Shino Takeda on a line called Katakana NY. We dropped by her new light-filled studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to see what she’s working on. Afterwards we had lunch down the street at Milk & Roses.
Still House: Tell us about how it all started.
Romy Northover: My family is super creative so that was understood and encouraged, and I was fortunate to go to a school where you could take ceramics as an A level. My degree was in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, London, which was mega conceptual. In my 20s I was doing video art and installation. I had a bit of a rough ride because I didn’t really know what I wanted. I had lots of weird “jobs” and lived for a while in Hong Kong, Italy, and Berlin. When I moved to New York everything changed. I came back to ceramics and that was that. I couldn’t be happier. Ceramics are basic, elemental, and quietly complex. There was only ever one option!
SH: You work using more traditional Japanese techniques but your work also seems to be in conversation with a surge of really great ceramic work coming out of Brooklyn right now. Can you tell us more about your influences?
RN: At Togei Kyoshitsu of New York, I learned the Japanese methods of Rokuro (throwing) and Kinuneri (kneading in a kind of spiral shape, similar to a chrysanthemum). Japanese ceramics are an important influence. I love the clarity of European design of the 20th Century, and the more gentle, organic simplicity of Scandinavian aesthetics. Also the rawness of material in old indigenous ceramics and crafts inspire me. I feel a kind of an ancient/future vibe. I have enormous respect for skill and tradition but I’m also into switching it up, stripping it back, daydreaming, and projecting. There is something to be said about collective consciousness. I’m very lucky to be working in this time where people are making such amazing ceramics—and there is a refreshed interest in it. It opens it up and makes being a full-time ceramicist possible.
SH: What’s inspiring you right now?
RN: Space and form are a massive inspiration, and nature moves me, too. I love horizons for the minimalist line they evoke and sense of the infinite. I work with earth. It’s visceral, and the material itself opens up so many possibilities. Right now I’m into mark-making and have a reinvested love for the work of Cy Twombly and Franz Kline. The internet is amazing. There is a calligraphy show at the MET I want to see…and I recently saw Kim Gordon perform with I.U.D…that was brilliant.
SH: Are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
RN: I’m really into using slips (liquid clay) as opposed to glaze. I’m so into the texture and the mood and flow of the brush. In August I start an advanced Kintsugi class – the Japanese technique of repairing broken ceramics with lacquer and 24 karat gold powder, with the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. The technique blows my mind!