Naked Raku

Wally Asselberghs

Artistic Statement

When I received my first initiation to the process of Naked Raku in 1995, during a workshop on “primitive” firing techniques by Margot Spiegel-Kraemer, it was as if lightning struck me.

This was a crucial moment in my life with clay, which at that point seemed to be blocked in a dead end street. It soon became obvious that this new discovery evolved into a turning point for my ceramic work.

In my organic objects, I try to find a visual language in which my favorite forms - animal, human body, rocks, marks left by forces of wind and water - are reduced to their simplest essence and purity.

On a secondary but equal level, the surface of these forms is treated like a canvas, meandering between white spaces and black marks left by fire and smoke, created by reduction techniques of the naked raku process.

Dancing on the sharp edges of the balance between pure form and shivering surface is a never-ending path of exploration. New approaches never cease to open up into exploring previously undiscovered variations, the birth of some I contribute to very wild but creative thinking of workshop participants.

Most of the forms and canvasses of my sculptural ceramics relate to changes.

"Enceinte" and “Nine and a half months” are both about the last shivering days of pregnancy. “Reported Drifting” was the tale of a ship floating in front of the African coastline, abandoned by captain and crew, heading for an unknown but fearful future.

Some works relate to the moment that water changes into ice, or starts to evaporate into steam. Others try to capture the nanosecond when a plane is shivering between air and soil, or try to evoke the build-up of pressure, that precious moment just before an explosion renders a piece into shattered fragments.

Life has always been about changes. If that is true about life, that is, to me, what my ceramics are about.

As the alchemist in medieval times, I try to manipulate the untamable metamorphosis during the process of firing ceramic materials into another dimension, the ultimate amalgamate of substance and dreams of mankind.