Continuing our Footpatrol Discussions series, we take a look at the specialised craft of ceramics. Something we’ve looked at throughout our time at Footpatrol from the Air Force 1 ‘Sculpt’ with Freya Bramble-Carter through to our very own Footpatrol Gasmask Incense Chamber, the world of ceramics spans far and wide.
Someone who has spread their love of ceramics throughout London are Nam Tran and Susi Huang of Cernamic. Now situated over in Stoke Newington, East London this duo have had numerous locations over their time bringing communities together for the love of creating.
From personal commissions as individual artists, the duo host affordable workshops in all areas of ceramics as a hope of getting more people involved in this delicate yet playful craft.
Whilst paying them a visit, we sat down with Nam to learn more about them, Cernamic and how he got to where he is today.
Footpatrol: Hi Nam, thank you for making time for us to visit the studio! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and the world of ‘Cernamic’
Nam Tran: A kid of Bow, East London, growing up in the east end and finding the passion for art when I was 16 and being able to express myself in the medium of clay, being able to create anything I like or how I felt really opened my mind. I carried on learning and educating myself in ceramics and found out that my passion was in teaching and expressing to others that there’s so much potential in us that can be conveyed through clay. The world of Cernamic is basically make what you feel like and just take it easy and relax, an escapism from the real world at times.
FP: looking around the studio there are many things that remind me of my childhood, What is it about pop culture that works so well with your traditional pottery techniques?
NT: Pottery is a very traditionalist subject where there are rules and history. I like to think myself as a rule breaker and try to bring in a new era of generation that grew up with pop culture and place that within an old technique like ceramic. I’m all about the craftsmanship, I like to show what I’m about and what people will think of me. When I pass on and leave all these pieces of ceramic behind, just like in super smash bros these pieces I make are mini trophy’s I collect and make along the way of my ceramic career and life.
FP: Your studio seems to have cultivated a real sense of community, how does this feed into your personal work?
NT: Iron sharpens iron, something I learnt during my MMA days. A strong gym will have like minded people who will help develop and push one another, this is the method I have tried to bring into my studio. Each member we have are well skilled but also super relaxed and we all inspire and educate each other through our ceramics making us all Evolve.
FP: You have quite a variety of skills sets, from BMX to cage fighting. What first attracted you to pottery? If you weren’t a ceramicist, what would you be doing?
NT: If I weren’t a ceramist I would be a street artist, maybe I’m just trying to do something that is personal and I can show people, like tagging on walls or trains, something to remind the world that there’s more that plain walls and Barriers. Doing something that gets people Inspired but also disappearing over time like a ghost.
FP: As soon as we walked in the studio was so peaceful and welcoming, How does pottery help with managing mental health and stress management?
NT: I suffer from ADHD and dyslexia so the calming effects really help me focus. I like to make stuff so I don’t have to sit down all day and panic if I spelt something wrong or be ashamed and feel laughed at. My studio is like my safe place, the moment you walk through those gates the world is forgotten and the tardis of a pottery world appears.
FP: How has the transition been from student of craft to teaching newcomers?
NT: Teaching makes me better and more humble as I know where I started and how hard it was. I never consider myself a master or become beheaded, I act like that kid who people look pass and assume I’m fairly rubbish until I touch the clay. My goal is to help people through the process so they can develop and realise that they can then make what ever they want and feel relax and calm and not worry about how good you need to be but rather everything is a step and each one takes time.
FP: You have an open house coming up in November, why do you think it’s important to open up your studio to the public in such a way?
NT: My studio isn’t like many studios where we’re great at advertising and social media as me and my partner are both makers and rubbish at admin and online SEO stuff. It’s sad as many people don’t know my studio exists so every year we do an open day to show what we’re making and to support a good cause. This helps make people aware we exist and that there’s a place to come, just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we open that one time a year to show you the magic and the creations of what lies inside the studio.
FP: Finally, What words of wisdom would you like to impart on the next generation of potters?
NT: Keep on chasing Phantoms