Ömer  Öner

ceramic artist
London, UK

I WAS EXTREMELY grateful when Ömer Öner, a Turkish ceramic artist, let me visit him at his studio space in North London. My visit fell on a bank holiday earlier this year, so the shared space was empty except for Ömer who had come in to do his personal work.
Ömer’s current art practice incorporates found objects that he started picking up while on his daily walks during the lockdown in London. Inspired by their creative potential, Ömer replicates their form using moulds and adds them to his ceramic creations, currently in the form of teapots and candlesticks.

Right as we start chatting, Ömer reaches under a shelf to pull out a box full of odds and ends that he has picked up over the months. There’s a door knob, a metallic salt shaker that has lost its shine, and a broken wheel of a shopping trolley – things that others have clearly thrown away.  
Yet it is these discarded objects that led Ömer to ask:

What can I make out of it? How can I make something precious out of what others have thrown away?” 

Drawing from his love of Byzantine and Middle Eastern art and history, Ömer produced a collection of ornate teapots, 25 in total, with no two of them alike. This was produced as part of his final year exhibition for his studies in Ceramic Design with the University of Arts London.  
Photographed together, Ömer likens the collection to a “social teapot gathering”, especially apt as since the work was produced at the height of the pandemic. 

Ömer breaks his process down further by explaining to me how he sees the separate elements that come together to form a teapot: spout, lid, container body, handle, legs or foot ring, and finial. These offer him unlimited structural and creative possibilities to incorporate his found objects and fashion them into a teapot of his own design.
Other than using found objects, Ömer also uses pewter to fix broken parts of his teapots. The whole process reminded me of kintsugi, a Japanese method of repairing broken pottery pieces with gold, but Ömer tells me his use of pewter is more personal. He draws his method from his grandmother who he recalls practised divination, reading people’s fortunes by pouring molten lead into water. 

Since then, Ömer is currently working on developing his art practice further and has started creating unique candle sticks from his found objects. His resulting ceramic pieces are like a story of trash to treasure, with each candle stick fashioned in a totally original silhouette.
It is fascinating to see how Ömer works, because he is in some way, moving in the opposite direction by picking up discarded material and repurposing them into something beautiful. 

Ömer Öner
Visited May 2022, published July 2022.