Eleanor Torbati is a ceramist and nurse in Norwich Norfolk. In conversation we ask her more about her passions, plans and her practise.
How long have you been making ceramics? How did you learn your craft?
In 2015, I started classes at Studio Do, a ceramics studio run by an incredible collective of Norfolk based potters, post completion of my Fine Art Foundation. However, a change of heart in career choice enabled me to attend evening classes at Studio Do, a local creative pottery studio in Norwich whilst continuing to study hard in my first year as a student nurse completing a Bsc Adult Nursing degree at the UEA. It was there amongst the stresses of essays, exams and acute hospital placements that I realised the expressive potential of clay, beginning to explore the use of simple sculpting techniques, pinching, coiling and eventually thrown pieces on the wheel. In 2019 I joined the Studio Do no longer as a student, but a fellow member. Being granted open access to the studio and its resources meant that I could focus on defining my work to what it is today. In September 2020, I moved into a new studio at Capitol House, with a new mindset. To create a body of functional stoneware tablewares that explores the concept of slow living, and ones ability to use ceramics in daily living with intention and mindfulness.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
My inspiration is drawn from the muted tones North Norfolk coastlines and landscapes to form, glaze and fire functional home and tableware, in a collective studio using a traditional practice that references organic aesthetics. Alternating between hand building and wheel thrown pottery, I produce minimalist pieces that reference slow living and one’s ability to create a look that is conscious, intentional, mindful, and sustainable. Drawing on organic and natural colour pallets of the clay such as off-whites, speckled textures, earthy creams, and beiges, I establish a neutral ambience that explores the concept of ethical living and sourcing local inspiration in abundance.
Who are your favourite artists/thinkers/makers/doers?
I collect many potters work in admiration of the vast variations of material, techniques and forms they use. Ceramicists such as Sloth Pots, Sam Marks Ceramics, Charlotte Miller, Argilo and Lily Pearmain Ceramics are all keen favourites of mine.
What are your favourite pieces in your own collection? And how long would that take to create?
My speckled wobble form footed tea cups are my favourite piece from the new collection. The process is so important, if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s ceramics takes time. Process. Patience. Passion. As a consumer, it can be hard to
find the value behind the product without knowing its journey and process to what you receive. Ceramics takes patience, care and time. Each piece is first formed from a wedged piece of clay hand thrown into a centre on the wheel. the art of centring enables the artist to pull up even walls of either side of the pot. Once the form is thrown, this piece is known as ‘green ware’ and is left to methodically dry to a leather hard. At this stage it is trimmed using a variety of hand held tools to sculpt the pot to its definitive form. Once fully dried, it is kiln fired to 1000 degrees, this is known as ‘bisque ware’. This is then dipped into a liquid known as glaze, an impervious layer or coating of a vitreous substance which becomes fused to a ceramic body through firing. The final stage of the process it last firing at 1240 degrees. The process is a ritual myself and may others follow. Thank you for being apart of that process.
What do you love most about what you do?
The unforeseen definitive form of what the lump of clay will become. In pottery nothings really guaranteed, a bit like shooting 35mm, you never know the final outcome until you open that final kiln. It’s the unpredictability of the process that I love most about the practice. Your best works are those that have not followed the rules…
What is your favourite piece? And why.
Probably my female busts. Each and everyone one is so completely different. Each have their own character and story. I really enjoy the process of sculpture, it’s not so set like the measurement of a cup or bowl. Its fluidity is exciting and bold.
You’ve just launched an online shop, congratulations, what are your plans for 2020?
Where do I start? With the exciting new studio space, I would love to offer workshops and classes to the public in the new year. Collaborations, markets, pop up shops, new creative spaces, etc… the future of ceramics is one bright and full of prospect. One I can’t wait to share it with you all.