Hole & Corner Selects: Naomi Bikis
Words Vilma Paasivaara
Photographs Pelle Crepin
In the Elements Issue, we spoke to Naomi Bikis about her ceramics, how it is to work with clay and what the concept of elements means to her. Today is the last day you can see her work at the British Craft Pavilion at the Old Truman Brewery…
Ceramicist Naomi Bikis claims to be both in awe of – and exasperated by – the clay that is fundamental to her work. ‘It is amazing and also incredibly temperamental,’ she says with a laugh. ‘I love getting messy with it and then suddenly creating a piece out of this lump of clay, it’s very satisfying. Ceramics as a medium is insane.’ In defiance of the insanity, Bikis has spent the past few years developing her ceramics practice after working as a fashion journalist.
‘My work blurs the boundaries between sculpture and functional ceramics,’ she says. ‘I’m interested in that fusion between the wheel-thrown pieces versus hand building.’ Her pieces – which paradoxically often seem pared down in terms of design while being texturally rich – can appear functional at first glance, yet turn out to be more sculptural on further inspection… or vice versa. ‘They are experiments in form and cutting pieces away, throwing something on the wheel and then removing it,’ she says; ‘taking a piece and reinserting it back to the pot.’
For Bikis, being outdoors, at the mercy of the elements, can be a stimulating and informative experience. ‘I love seeing the elements decaying something,’ she says. ‘That’s definitely been a big influence in trying to develop a number of glazes and slips that have that decaying, slightly weathered approach.’ This weather-beaten aesthetic often lends her pieces an almost ageless feel.
As could be expected from a ceramicist, Bikis relates most to the earth (‘Literally, because that is what I’m playing with in the studio’). It is the raw form of clay as well as its natural movement that she finds inspiring – and what guides her towards her final forms. ‘But having said that, it’s nothing without fire,’ she adds. ‘It doesn’t become a form or a sculpture without the fire…’