NO.13 NICOLA TASSIE: UP OUR STREET - 8 Holland Street's neighbours, near and far


“When it all comes together and you can see how you can push something seemingly out of control into the sleep of a spinning top” says Nicola Tassie of the making process, “it’s a sort of sublime realisation that this happens with nothing but water and mud"

Nicola Tassie has occupied her top floor East London studio for thirty years. The space is a visual timeline of her work, much of which she retains in the hope of repurposing. “Going back to unresolved pieces makes you think more deeply of the responsibility of making in an increasingly crowded world”. 


This commitment to repurposing has led to Nicola’s newest focus: her totems. 

These sculptural objects explore the idea of traditionally domestic forms placed into the context of high art, “pottery is about the relationship with the kiln, in receiving what it has done, you are pushed out of your prejudice and forced to accept what the earth gives you”.


The studio is full of an array of different glazes that Nicola has accumulated over the years. “It takes a long time to get to know the glaze, what heat they like, trying them out in the kiln, understanding where they like to sit”.  Most makers stick to the same few glazes but Nicola continues to experiment and to challenge herself to create new glazes for her totems. In her words the totems are, “history lessons on glazes and how we interact with them.”


Application of colour is precarious but risk-taking is an important part of the process. Bright colours serve as signifiers of moments in time that mean something: yellow and brighter colours suggest the buzz of the city, orange recalls the Seventies and British mass production of pottery and synthetic colours trying to compete with the plastic age. 


A collection of perfectly-formed jugs mark the entry to Nicola’s studio, “the jug is domestic but standalone, the handle is an intimate invitation to touch, there’s an easy exit from the spout if things mount up and it has a sturdy base which won’t topple over, so is dependable.” This simple, comforting object has been Nicola's spiritual friend throughout her career of making. 


My ideal neighbours would be... 

The V&A Museum, specifically the ceramics gallery -  then not only could I visit my favourite pots whenever the whim took me but my neighbours would be all the expert curators and researchers of everything ceramic!


The house I’d like to live in is... 

Chateau  de Ratilly in Burgundy. It’s a 13 century castle with an enclosed garden courtyard that houses a working pottery on one side and a gallery on the other. And I’d live up in the turrets with views across the countryside.


Tomorrow I will...

be throwing, turning, attaching forms, adjusting, remaking....  I have an exhibition opening in Cumbria in May and it’s a huge space so a great opportunity to make some larger scale works.

Installation Views