Xiaoying Zhou: Irregularity and uselessness in Ceramics

Xiaoying Zhou is a ceramic artist exploring the possibilities of the form and its aesthetics. Irregularity and uselessness are the most common themes in her work, showing the beauty of unexpected shapes and materials mixed with clay.

The Beginning.

Xiaoying Zhou: I have studied painting, jewelry design, and product design in which fields I present my own inspirations. Whereas the ceramic design is especially flexible as a material that can easily be shaped, it is very inclusive to react with any possible material at high temperatures (combustion process), through which I can always get unexpected results. It has been three years since I have chosen to study ceramics at the university.

Unexpected and distinctive Design.

Xiaoying Zhou: Many works in life are often presented in a regular and perfect form, square, rectangular, round, etc., or the technical level is used to value the quality of a work. A fixed aesthetic taste, as well as a work in a beautiful form, can easily make people experience aesthetic fatigue, so unexpected and distinctive design can more easily catch people’s eyes.

Exploring Irregularity and uselessness.

Xiaoying Zhou: Irregularity and uselessness are the most common themes in my work. No one will guess what this is and what its use is. Only by learning the story behind will people realize the beauty and meaning of it. Most of my works are made casually – the shape to be shaped is unexpected, and the materials selected are unimpressed. In addition to using clay to shape the image of a material, the same can be used to shape the image (shape/contour) of the clay. I have chosen cotton as the material for making ceramic shapes in my current work. It is soft, so when soaked in the clay, because of its weight, it will collapse and form a very random shape. Every attempt is a different surprise. You don’t need to expect what it will be.


Xiaoying Zhou: In addition to the organic material (cotton), many inconspicuous materials in life, such as the small pebbles left when we are sifting sand, the solid glaze left when ceramics are burnt in the sand and even some broken or failed works can be used to replace the traditional ceramic glaze to beautify a piece of work, forming the beauty of imperfections. One of my work ‘Earth & Moon’ were both planets in the space, also they are really close to each other with a completely different living environment. However, the earth has all the organism, plant and many resources such as water, rock, metal, air and so on due to the unique environmental conditions. Nature is the best artist; our Earth is the best artwork created by nature in my opinion. And I also hope everyone takes the responsibility to protect our best gift from mother nature.

Interview with Xiaoying Zhou.