2010—onwards: Interview with Erez Ben-Or
Photography by Pier Carthew
Ceramics by Erez Ben-Or
Styling by Stefanie Breschi
Born in Israel and based in Sydney, Erez Ben-Or is a ceramic artist whose practice is influenced by the textures, forms, rhythms, and materials of architecture—specifically Brutalism and the imposing, geometric nature of Brutalist buildings. Erez’s work is hand-built using a clay slab construction technique. For Erez, the slab has an immediacy and materiality similar to concrete. His work is finished using slips on the outside surfaces and only opts to glaze the work on the inside, to maintain a level of functionality.
Hello, what is your name, background and how did you end up doing what you do?
Erez Ben-Or: My name is Erez Ben-Or. I am originally from Israel and have lived in Sydney for the past 25 years. I have a Bachelor of Fine Art from the National Art School, Sydney where I studied ceramics. I have been interested in creative processes since I was a child. I think my interest in art comes from my mother and like her, I have always needed to be doing something creative to express myself. When I was 12 years old, I started to attend life drawing classes and shortly after I started painting quite seriously. I had exhibitions in my neighbourhood and actually sold some of my work. My parents have always been supportive of my creative pursuits so when it was time for me to attend high school they enrolled me at a secondary school, specialising in the arts.
What is your connection to the materials you work with, what do they do for you that others don’t?
EB: My interest in ceramics began when I was at art school and for now, I work exclusively with clay. It is definitely the tactile quality of the clay that initially drew me in and the fact that I can make something three dimensional out of what is essentially mud! It is also the physicality that comes with making something and being able to view it from different perspectives that I find energising. There is also a physical quality to clay and something about manipulating the material in my hands that I find quite peaceful. There are times when I'm creating that it feels like time stands still and I'm in a meditative state and all the day to day stressors disappear.
Is there a recurring theme in your work?
EB: I'm not sure you could call it a theme but my interest in architecture and the built environment and my love of science fiction are two converging influences that play out in my work. I enjoy the rhythms and structure of architecture and at times I like to mix it up and incorporate more organic elements to introduce a playful almost whimsical quality to the work. In terms of my practice, one constant is I build my forms almost exclusively using a slab building technique. I often leave my work unglazed on the outer surface because I find it gives the work a tactile, raw quality that I find similar to concrete.
When you hear ‘trust the process’ what comes to mind?
EB: When it comes to working with clay I find I can never completely trust the process. When firing something in the kiln there are so many variables. There are times when the end product looks nothing like what I had in mind. The process can both surprise and delight and be occasionally disappointing.
If you could be reminded of something every day, what would it be?
EB: I think when the creative process in the studio is going as planned I like to remind myself how lucky and privileged I am to be able to wake up every day and create. I feel fortunate that I have found a medium that can provide solace and help me focus on the present.
What else are you involved with that we might not know about?
EB: Part of my artistic practice is photography. I have a Bachelor's degree in photography and a background working in graphic design and web development. I am lucky that I can utilise these skills when I need them.
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