Luke Eastop is a third generation ceramicist whose work explores the basic qualities of material and form. We spoke to Luke about growing up in a creative home, his fine-tuned process, and what inspires him inside and outside the studio.
WW: Where did you grow up? Where are you based now?
LE: I grew up in South East London, in the borough of Lewisham. I now live and work in a seaside town, Margate, on the eastern tip of Kent, South East England.
WW: How did you find your way to ceramics?
LE: My journey into working with clay started at the house and studio of my late grandfather, the ceramicist Geoffrey Eastop. I grew up with ceramics, surrounded by his work and the work of my father, Ben Eastop. The house provided a rich environment that was especially formative; there’re pictures of me as a toddler playing with pots on the lawn, and after my grandparents died, I moved to the house to work in the studio and learn to make my own ceramics. The studio was an aggregation of a lifetime of work; sacks of long-discontinued materials, notebooks of glaze recipes, throwing notes and sketches going back to the 1950s. The walls and shelves were full of curiosities and ephemera, a cow’s skull, a shard of German saltware, a faded newspaper cut-out of a ballerina next to one of the patterned flank of a whale shark. It was the perfect training ground, and a very special place.
WW: How do you approach designing your pieces?
LE: I try to create pieces by identifying some fundamental idea of the form, and then explore it through iterations drawn on paper and by throwing on the wheel. With the Crucible range, I went round and round this process, taking the initial form, playing with it, stretching the dimensions and scale from almost flat, tiny dishes made with 300g of clay, to oversized 4kg bowls, but always preserving the simple geometric idea of a hemispheroid lower section and straight-sided upper section.
WW: What has been your highlight and your most challenging moment to date?
LE: I would say that every successful piece is a highlight and every failure is a challenge.
WW: How do you find your way out of a creative rut?
LE: Thankfully, throwing is a hard skill to master, and making ceramics is a fairly slow process, so I haven’t had the chance to get stuck in any ruts so far. However, I seem to reach some points where I need to take a break and leave the studio to think about my next steps and ruminate on ideas that I haven’t had time to realise. I think these excursions are natural part of the ebb and flow of creativity, and I always seem to come back swinging.
WW: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
LE: I’m not sure that such a thing exists, although if you haven’t found your voice, the discipline in which to speak, or some preconceived idea of success then you can question yourself, and it’s hard to stay motivated with all that angst swirling around. But every creative act counts, and if you find yourself compelled to create, no matter the application or frequency, then QED - you are an artist, so just carry on as best you can, the rest will probably work itself out.
WW: What are you currently reading?
LE: Books currently strewn around my living room:
Thai Food by David Thompson, Spivak’s Calculus, Feynman’s Lectures on Physics.
WW: Listening to?
LE: Picks from my ‘recently played’ list on Spotify:
- Joni Mitchell’s first album, Ladies of the Canyon, because I was on the train coming back from London, through the beautiful Kent countryside in the sun
- Brutalism by IDLES for the energy
- Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu Area Band, on frequent rotation in the studio, great for throwing
- In Our Time, a jewel in the crown of BBC radio, recent favourites being an episode on echolocation and one on the life of the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss
WW: What inspires you?
LE: Shapes of things, the reasons why and the ways how.
WW: Do you have a personal philosophy you live by?
LE: The best thing in life is the pleasure of finding things out.