Nicola Tassie

Nicola Tassie is a ceramicist whose work focuses on pushing the conceptual and material possibilities of domestic forms. While her work evokes a sense of familiarity within the viewer, her pieces, through construction and approach, elevate themselves beyond their humble function into the realm of sculpture. A founder member of Standpoint Studios, Nicola works from her space following the tradition of producing small batch domestic ware, which often form the basis of more abstract still life sets and installations.

Ceramicist

Nicola Tassie

South East England

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THE PROCESS

Nicola Tassie’s pieces display a defiantly clean form and experimental use of texture, colour and technique. From sgraffitoed porcelain and lava glazes, to grainy crank clay, Nicola's restrained shapes present the ideal surface for her considered applications. She makes in a variety of ways and processes include turning on the wheel, building up thrown forms in parts, or distorting them when they are still soft. Nicola mostly works with high fired stoneware for the closer interaction between the glaze and the clay body, and the greater range of glaze surfaces.

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Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

I walk daily to and from my studio and it’s usually when I head homeward, at the end of the day’s work, that I have ‘what if ‘ thoughts. ‘What if’ I turn this pot on its side? ‘What if’ I combine this glaze with this slip? Then new ideas or solutions to problems follow, and the walking helps filter these thoughts until I can restart the next day.

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

I’ve been in the same studio for almost 30 years and it is overflowing with work. Unfinished and broken pots, sculptural objects, test pieces, unresolved works and discarded ideas – they pile up on my shelves, reaching up to the ceiling, always on show. These unresolved ideas come back to me in some form or other, either by suddenly appearing relevant or having their technical problem resolved by a new innovation. Even the vision of the piled-up pots and how they sit together on the shelves has informed my work; from multi-form lamps like Apollo and Medway, to my larger art installations, ‘Elevation’ and ‘Folly’. Space and display has become a subject in itself, the studio is a continual, sustainable source of ideas and tasks.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

I learned the craft of studio ceramics after having studied painting at art school. The crossovers between the two are still pivotal to my making. Each informs the other, there’s a natural weaving backwards and forwards between making sculptural and functional pieces. Process is important in all my work. I make in quite a variety of ways – on the wheel, building up thrown forms in parts, or distorting them when they are still soft.

My wall plaques are made by impressing and rolling clay, and I regularly return to working with slip and mark-making. I mostly work with high fired stoneware and although there is more heat stress on the form, it’s worth the risk for the closer interaction between the glaze and the clay body, and the greater range of glaze surfaces. Through continuous testing I have now accumulated a workable selection of glazes.

4. What is your definition or proudest moment as a maker so far?

Ceramics is always a tussle between things turning out technically intact and the idea being a good one. I think Shoji Hamada was right when he said that out of the tens of thousands of pots he has made in his life, there are a dozen that continue to hold his attention. It’s a special achievement when it all comes together and a pot ‘works’. Currently I’m making increasingly larger, multiple ceramic pieces, stretching and increasing my knowledge of the material and its possibilities, both technically and in terms of contemporary perceptions of ceramics. My tallest yet is ‘Folly’ at 2.5 meters, a column of familiar domestic forms piled up into a kind of totem pole. It’s on show at Hostler Burrows gallery in Los Angeles and was a source for making the Apollo lamp.

5. What is your dream project?

Galleries are increasingly showing online but it’s important and meaningful to exhibit work in a real space. There is no substitute for the physical encounter and interaction with the audience. So, creating bodies of work to be exhibited in a public space is a continuing ambition. My hope is that the works have some relevance today and are part of a continuum in extending the language of clay and ceramics.

 

ALL PRODUCTS

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2 Products found

  1. Thaw Grinding Stone
    Thaw Grinding Stone
    Nicola Tassie
    £1,200
  2. Spring Frost Grinding Stone
    Spring Frost Grinding Stone
    Nicola Tassie
    £1,200
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2 Products found