Beauty in Imperfection

Melbourne-based Taiwanese contemporary artist Zhu Ohmu explores the concept of slowness and the handmade in an era of instant gratification and mass production


Taipei-born Zhu Ohmu (born in 1989) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2011, in Auckland, New Zealand, before moving to Australia, where she currently lives and works. Despite having no formal training in ceramics, it has become her primary means of expression and investigation.

One of Ohmu’s major projects is Plantsukuroi, a series of sculptural vessels with fascinating fluid forms. Inspired by the concept of biomimicry, the artist used her hands to imitate the process of 3D printing, unveiling unique creations as a result. ‘My hands are able to build forms that the present-day ceramics 3D printer can’t. This is because humans are capable of the patience, care and inquisitiveness necessary for an intimate relationship with clay,’ she explains.

This approach embraces the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, in which accepting imperfection is a basic principle. ‘It’s a worldview where the considerations of beauty contrast with the Western ideals of grandness and flawlessness, and contrast to the current throw-away culture where disposables are favoured over durable goods that can be repaired,’ Ohmu explains. ‘I think wabi-sabi can teach us to tread lightly on this earth, and challenge us to step out of consumerist thinking.’

Inspired by nature, the internet and ideas from the past, the artist — who also works in photography and paper- and web-based mediums — is particularly interested in ‘what it means to live in the Anthropocene, the current geological age where human activity has been the dominant influence on the Earth’s ecosystems.’ Conscious of the big challenges of our time, and especially the ecological ones, Ohmu creates to impact others. Even if the objects she makes are indisputably mesmerising, the purpose of Ohmu’s work goes far beyond the grace of its aesthetics. It is art that questions, and its creator hopes to spread awareness about the future of society and humanity.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Courtesy of Zhu Ohmu