The essence of being. A conversation with Romy Northover

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“We are nature and I really believe in getting to a more wild version of ones self, so a lot of my work is about undoing and re-building, exploring the binary oppositions of culture and aesthetics, with the primitive raw and natural.” muses Romy Northover, multi-disciplinary artist and founder of design studio No.

We talk to Romy about her creative thought process, relationship with nature and her growing love for environmental art. She also talks about how she is using this time to think, gaze off and rethink.

“We are nature and I really believe in getting to a more wild version of ones self, so a lot of my work is about undoing and re-building, exploring the binary oppositions of culture and aesthetics, with the primitive raw and natural.”

Meet Romy Northover, a British ceramicist, based in New York, a multi-disciplinary artist and founder of design studio No. The focus of her work is to demonstrate a connection to nature through object, body, ritual, architecture and landscape. She creates responsive works of contemplation and increased sensory awareness, communicated through a variety of mediums. 

How are you adapting your way of working during current times? Is there any shift in your creative process?

There are constant shifts in my creative process, so I’m somewhat used to inconsistency and I’m very responsive to my environment so no doubt this will have an effect on my practice.

Is there any ritual or practice that helps you get into your creative headspace?

I have got into this idea of ‘create before you consume’ – waking up and reading the news can make me feel totally flattened. So I had to reverse that. We have a dog and taking her for walks twice a day is essential and she is so funny so it’s really a joy… I’m lucky that we are in the countryside and able to do this without much restriction, I very much need to feel freedom of movement to be creative and being outside in nature is so cleansing.

Tea is also another majorly important ritual. I practice cha dao. 

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There is a strong sense of connection with nature and emotions in your work. Can you tell us about your inspiration and process?

I read somewhere that emotions are energy in motion and that seems pretty bang on. We are nature and I really believe in getting to a more wild version of ones self, so a lot of my work is about undoing and re-building, exploring the binary oppositions of culture and aesthetics, with the primitive raw and natural.

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What do you love most about ceramics? Is there any other artform that interests you?

Ceramics is important to me because of its primal and super ancient nature. I love the idea of being able to dig material from the ground and mould it into something super refined/ designed. There is so much sensory feedback involved with making ceramics so it really is a conversation between you and nature. I honestly think anyone can have a positive experience working with clay, as long as they don’t get too caught up with the results because it can be unpredictable. 

I can appreciate all kinds of art forms but environmental art has become really important to me in recent years. We are in a critical position, poised to be able to make a difference to life on the planet through our actions, and however small my contribution I want my work to encourage people to consider their relationship to their body in nature. I made some site specific installations in the Silent Living properties in Portugal, and since then have been working on more concepts.

What are your tips to be contemplative and creative during the current isolation period? What are your thoughts on how art can help us be more mindful and present?

Everyone is different.I’ve been doing some ink and charcoal drawings that are more like mark marking so I’m concentrating on the pressure, motion and material rather than a concept. But for me personally it’s been really important to have time to process, I’ve been doing a lot of just thinking, gazing off, lying on the ground… instead of being go go go! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to produce during this time but to re-think – what the hell I’m doing!?! What is clear to me in all this is that creativity isn’t all about production.

You grew up in England and now live in New York, what do you love most about the two places?

I love the countryside in England, and most of all my family. I love going for long walks with the dogs it’s never a bad idea, whatever the weather. My dog hates the rain so its me dragging her out on those days!

We recently moved out of new york city because of covid and are in the catskills mountains in upstate new york. New York has a crazy frenetic energy that can be both stimulating and maddening! There is always something new to discover there and that is amazing. But now I’m really enjoying country life again, and noticing all the wild life. I’m seeing all these incredible animals like beavers, bears, porcupines that I never saw living in the UK – we even discovered we have a family of rare flying squirrels living in our roof!

What other artists are you most inspired by?

Primitive arts, Cy Twombly, Balancine, Lucie Rie to name a few

What are you currently reading, listening to and watching? 

Reading old magazines that I never had a chance to finish and a stack on books

Alex vervoordt – living with light

Atelier AM – Interiors

John Pawson – Spectrum

Leonard Choen – The book of longing 

Listening to a mix of music, podcasts

Micheal Kawaka, 

Arts & Ideas BBC podcast,

 ‘Confidential’ Iggy Pop BB6