Norman Yap is a ceramicist producing thrown studio bowl, bottle and vase forms in stoneware or porcelain. He lives in London and will be showing his work at the Palace Art and Craft Fair.
At what age did you know you wanted to become a maker?I had always wanted to express myself through an artistic medium but didn't have the encouragement or direction until I was 40 when pottery reared its head. Even then I didn't believe I could do anything substantial or meaningul with it but went on to develop myself with constant practice and refinement - I am self trained. My first big show was Origin at the Spitalfields Market and it was only then that I saw myself as a maker, as an artist, as a studio potter.
Is being a designer your only job?
I am a full time maker but work on a volunteer basis for London Potters where I am a trustee and sit on the council of this charity. I edit and produce LP News every two months and in this role commission articles, write, edit and photograph for the magazine. I am also a member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and hope to get more involved in supporting the council there with my skills.
If you could be anything else what would you be?
A muse to Vivienne Westwood. Or to amuse Vivienne Westwood.
One favourite living artist / designer?
Vivienne Westwood for her talent, her spirit, her ability to command attention, her continued success.
There are several I must pay homage to - Lucie Rie for her foresight and bravery and what she brought to modern British studio pottery, Derek Emms for inventing and sharing his lovely copper red glaze, Colin Pearson for his winged forms that still haunt my mind, Barbara Hepworth for her sculpture whose understanding of the line was inspirational.
Who / what has had most influence on your work?
I find myself driven to succeed from something deep within, a drive and a calling. Civility, a sense of sharing and a communal appreciation within the making circles also provide encouragement and pleasure. I want to return this richness and generosity by supporting and encouraging British craft in all its diversity.
A multilingual call centre I managed where we looked after 41 countries in 16 languages. The staff were the most wonderfully intelligent, committed and animated team I'd ever met. They had read that stress caused wrinkles so they took a collection to buy a jar of very expensive Estee Lauder moisturiser and passed it around whenever a caller rang to complain. The jar would go round the call centre several times at especially trying times and explaining this to visitors was occasionally challenging to say the least!
What is your most prized item of art / design / craft?
Original artworks by Matt Barber, an architect turned artist. He paints scenarios of derelict buildings destined to be destroyed and these become images of elegance and bravery in the certainty of termination.
What item of design / craft do you covet most?
A winged vessel by Colin Pearson, they are beautiful in the extreme.
Re-reading Tales of the City series for the nostalgia of it, Armistead Maupin captures the spirit of the times and the city wherever he may be, San Francisco or Paris.
What are you listening to?
Callas, Fleetwood Mac and John Adams
How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?
None at all, it's all work and research! If you believe that, you'll believe anything....
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
I live in the present, I have to. I look to the future and hope that I'll continue to be happy with my lot but if I can make myself happier, I will try. Does that mean living somewhere else? Perhaps. Where? Where there is community, inclusion, a good deli, a good pub, a good pool and a sense of belonging, preferably all at the same time.
A large, light room across the road from where we live, the landlord is a sweetie and my beloved gas kiln sits on the flat roof, out of harm's way and it all works.
Three words that describe your feeling of doing your work?
Determination, celebration, satisfaction
Chips or mash?