design, Interviews

Multidisciplinary artist OHNO is making delightful functional art

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Eloise de Klerk, also known as Ello X-Ray Eyez, is a multidisciplinary artist based in Cape Town. She is known for her distinctive world of sweet and zany characters that are now finding new life as ceramic objects. Previously part of the art collective Love and Hate, Ello’s art has spanned street murals, skateboards, tapestries, branding projects and indie publishing.

ohno ceramicsohno ceramics

She now works under the label OHNO, making what she refers to as functional art, one aspect of which is ceramics. 'I have never been scared to venture into other processes and experiment with mediums,' she says, 'as I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of creative fields.' Her brightly painted pottery comes in forms great and small, from trinket bowls to versatile sculptures of clay creatures that sprout a fresh crop of hair when used as pot plants. 

This new venture is, in fact, a return to her roots, having grown up with a mother who is a trained sculptor. 'I was very fortunate to see her making and creating with her hands,' Ello says. 'Even though her preferred mediums are more hardcore, like metal and stone, I had opportunities to play with clay and actually decided early on that I wasn’t very good at making three-dimensional things. My mom has never agreed.'

What do you enjoy about the process of working with clay? 

I really like that it is one of the original forms of art. Making something functional and of value out of such a raw material is a rewarding experience in itself.

Do you see your ceramics as an extension of your art or something different?

I think my ceramic work is an extension of my art, and through my experimenting with different possibilities, it is slowly developing and transforming into its own entity. 

Where do the characters that you create come from? 

I have always been inspired by cartoons and drawing characters has been an extension of that. I like people’s personality quirks and I try to put that into my characters. When I start a new piece I begin with a few basic shapes and then take it from there. 

What inspires a new piece? 

I’m drawn to colourful and kitsch objects. I have a huge affinity for modernist sleek design as well as classic and pan-African styles. I am inspired by all these things and the possibility of making bigger and better pieces.

Who do you hope will take one home? 

Anyone that appreciates the time and love that has gone into a piece, or who simply loves it for what it is. 

Follow Ello X-Ray Eyez on Instagram for a glimpse of her creative processes and to see new products.