Meeting Noe Kuremoto

- - How did you begin working with clay ? When did you start taking your pottery/ sculptures work more seriously ?

I started to work with clay as a child. Not seriously at all. Just for fun. My father is an artist and he taught Fine Art at university in Japan so my brothers and I met a lot of his colleagues (artists, ceramicists, poets etc ) while he took us to his studio and the university. We absolutely loved hanging out at his studio and meeting interesting grown-ups so it was shocked for us to discover that so many grown-ups in the world are unhappy at their work and they live for the weekend! I am forever grateful for this early exposure of the world of passion to my father. Anyhow, I started studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in late 90s in London and I consciously stayed away from ceramics, as at the time, ceramics seemed a poor cousin of Fine Art to my teenager eyes. Especially ceramic was somehow belonged to ‘craft’ and not ‘fine art’. I can talk about this subject for all night but that’s another interview session! Haha. My main art practice was performance and video art. And about 7 years ago, my clay bug was re-awaken as I craved for simplicity of clay, water, fire and hand. The world was going digital mad, social network mad and my mind was also going mad so I needed to feel more grounded somehow. So that’s how I went back to clay.

- Would you define yourself as a collector ? Do you have a large collection of objects yourself ? Vases, sculptures...

Probably no. When you live in a tiny apartment in central London, you have to make sure you are not over collecting anything! My studio is also small East London rental studio so I try to keep my life as minimal as I can. As a result, I do a sample sale and I say good bye to all my work every 6 months so I can accommodate my new work! It has to be militarily style comes down to get rid of my pieces especially they become an extension of ‘me’ so it can be very hard… It also keeps my headspace clean once I make a space for my new collection. It is an excellent practice not being attached to ‘things’!

- You were born in Osaka (I’m in love with this city by the way!) - when did you move to England? Could you try to explain how this double culture may be important in your work?

Oh, I am so glad you liked Osaka. People from Osaka are often very proud to be people of Osaka! I came to England When I was 17 years old. Yep the time flies by! I am hugely influenced by Japanese mythology, fairy tale and particular Japanese sprits in nature. My guess is that if I did not leave Japan and became an artist in Japan I would not have been this curious about my own culture. So I would say it plays a pretty important role. I also like to tell my children about Japan and they ask me about a story behind my piece. I like that.

- The pieces you create are incredibly poetic and free - What kind of approach do you have regarding shapes ?

I just think making a sculptural form with clay is just like drawing. Drawing in the air. I just start with freshly wedged clay and see what happens. Sometime I doodle then move onto clay. It depends on my mood but often a clay will reveal its shape on its own so we cannot force a shape to clay. Maybe this is why it feels free…?

I have a story in my mind then that often becomes a collection. I tell my stories through my ceramics but it has spontaneous elements too. And I do like drawing a lot in general. I was always drawing as a child ever since I discovered a pencil in my hand.

A great storyteller

- I think I already know the answer... What’s your favorite tool?

My hand!

Large Jomon suiban x @fridakim_london

- How comes you are so inspiring for many flower designers ? is floral art important in your creative process ?

I see my vase is just like an earth. And floral artists are gardeners. It’s my job to keep their earth nutritious and let the fruits grow. I feel ever so lucky that I am able to witness a completely new life of my vase once it leaves my studio. So many of my clients are fabulously talented, it blows my mind every time when they share their arrangement with me! So thank you.

- I have been told that you used to practice Martial Arts ! Do you still practice Muay Thai ? Can you see a link with your work on clay?

I have not fought for a long time as I am oooold now! My husband is dying to take our children to Dojyo. And so am I! Martial Art taught me discipline, respect, pain, love…all the key ingredients for a meaningful life. A life of Martial Art is so intense (but fun too!) and keeps everyone ‘naked’. It does not matter your rich or poor, your skin colours nor religious believes. Who ever works hardest, and fight hard and smart wins. No one can hide behind a fancy uniform or branding. I hope I can stay ‘naked’ for the rest of my life . I like that fact no one can lie on a ring. Everyone is alone and if you have been lying to yourself you would get find out once the bell rings. And that’s life.

- What's next for you?

I would love to make a large scale installation so I am saving for a large kiln now!

Images of Noe Kuremoto by Marcelo Deguchi and Liam Prior


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