Meet Zhu Ohmu, The Chinese Female Potter Who Plays With Gravity

Fascinated by the organic silhouettes found in nature and the human body, Zhu Ohmu explores the relationship between man, machine and ecology in the contemporary world through her ceramic works.
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Image: Instagram/@zhu.ohmu

Life has taken Zhu Ohmu to different places: originally from Taipei, in Taiwan, she emigrated to New Zealand and, finally, to Melbourne, Australia, where she resides today. "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 in Auckland 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.

Indeed, one only needs to take a glance at one of her stunning ceramic vessels  and its unique folds and forms to witness the amount of care and understanding she has of the medium. 

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Images courtesy of the artist.

The artist makes ceramic vases of overflowing silhouettes, reminiscent of the mechanical process of 3D printing, only this time, made by hand. "They arise intuitively like this - 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 approachs her work with a philosophy that could be applied to life itself: "Don't care, things fall apart." There is no uniformity and consistency as you would expect from a mechanical worker, and instead, her stacks of clay become lopsided, uneven and wonky.

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Images courtesy of the artist.

After several experimentations 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 hher 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 his first solo exhibition at the Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert , in the city of Sydney, Australia.

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