Sylvester Sessions #111

Sylvester Sessions #111

Sylvester Sessions #111

Zhu Ohmu

Naarm, Melbourne, Australia 
Zhu wears pieces from AW'24 Gloria Gloria collection
Photography by Wayne Conway


Zhu Ohmu is a contemporary artist working primarily in ceramics. She graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in Tāmaki Makaurau and is currently based in Naarm, Melbourne.

Ahead of Aotearoa Art Fair, Kate and Wayne travelled to Ohmu's studio in Naarm to capture her in the AW'24 Gloria Gloria collection amongst her work.


Tell us more about your ceramic body of work and the concepts you are exploring?

My ceramic practice is very process based, with a self formulated coiling technique that imitates the machine methods of 3D printing. Built through stacking, folding, and pressing, works are dictated by the weight of moist clay with forms emerging intuitively, pushed to their structural limits.

By spending time with the clay through play and observation, the insight into plasticity and workability allows me to manipulate the material. The artist’s hands are able to build forms that the present-day 3D printer cannot, and this is because humans are capable of the patience, care, and curiosity needed for an intimate relationship with clay.

My work investigates the resurgence of the handmade and the interconnectedness of all things whilst exploring how humans can stay relevant in an age of mass production and automation.

How did you get into art and develop a career from it? 

I studied Fine Arts at Elam but I only started playing with clay a few years after I’ve moved to Melbourne. To exhibit in artist run galleries in Melbourne ten years ago required the emerging artist to pay a substantial amount for renting the gallery space. I was cash strapped at the time and also disagreed with this system, so started posting photographs of my work on social media as another way of putting my work out there. My art career developed from there.

Do you have any rituals in how you go about your art? 

 My studio in Melbourne is in my garage, I love having my studio in close proximity so I can easily meander between art and non-art activities. Art is so interwoven in my day to day that I don’t have a clearly defined work time or home time. I don’t have a ritual per say but when in studio I always put on these brown corduroy overalls that were hand me downs from a friend who wore them to dig up dinosaur and mammoth fossils in the USA.

How does it feel to come back to Aotearoa and show at AAF? 

Personally, as an artist who is currently based in Australia but lived 13 formative years in Auckland... it must be pretty special to exhibit work in a space that is completely new to me yet holds so much familiarity. International but also home.

I’m writing this from Melbourne, but perhaps déjà vu would be apt to describe how I might feel when I’m physically at Aotearoa Art Fair. Who will I meet and through which mutual friend? Who will I reconnect with and what memories of teenage years or early adulthood will that trigger? What future exhibitions or collaborations might this lead to? How wonderful to experience an art fair this way.

I am proud to be participating in a prestigious art fair in one of my home countries and I look forward to re-acquainting with the New Zealand art community as a fully fledged adult

Kate has long been inspired by art, film and cultural references in her collections. She is drawn to art galleries, museums, artist studios, archives and spending time with contemporaries in the art world. Do you have any thoughts on the intersection between fashion and art? 

Fashion and art are both predominantly visual disciplines. They naturally complement and influence each other and this relationship is ever-evolving with many cross-overs between the two fields. There are always fresh and exciting things arising from this intersection.

How would you describe your personal style and what influences what you choose to wear? 

I choose to wear well-made good quality pieces that make me feel at ease - dressed up but also comfortable to move in. I think style is a constant evolution, and I feel I am still in the experimenting stage with my personal style… that is part of the fun of fashion – the discovery of how new shapes, colours and textures feel on the body.

You have a strong aesthetic and styled yourself for your Sylvester Sessions shoot. Were there any pieces from the AW'24 collection that particularly resonated with you?

I absolutely adore the Fonda leather coat and think that is a classic and timeless piece with a touch of warehouse grunge.

Talk us through your vision for the shoot styling. The hair artist and looks selected complement your body of work? 

It was play really. I wanted to do something fun and cool and a bit different with my friends, so I got Zeina Thiboult (hair art) and Mariana Blanco (creative direction) on board. I’ve always admired Zeina’s braid work so I’m pretty stoked to work with her.  


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