Slowing Down with Zhu Ohmu

We talk to the Melbourne-based contemporary artist about cultivating slowness, acceptance and glowing luminosity.

We talk to the Melbourne-based contemporary artist about cultivating slowness, acceptance and glowing luminosity.

“We are living in a society where our value is so tied up with speed, productivity, instant gratification and exponential growth”, says contemporary artist Zhu Ohmu. Which is why Zhu is investigating the resurgence of the handmade through her free-forming, organic ceramic masterpieces. 

Living and working as a contemporary artist in Melbourne on Wurundjeri land, Zhu is challenging the pace of modern life by practicing the art of slowness in her artistic pursuits. “One thing you can expect from my practice is slowness. Slow in the way I make, slow in releasing new works, slow in concept development.”

And it’s Zhu’s careful and unhurried approach to the creative process that resonates so profoundly with us here at RATIONALE. For example, it took 30 years and thousands of prototypes for RATIONALE Founder, Richard Parker, and the RATIONALE Research Team to arrive at #3 The Tinted Serum SPF50+. When asked for his thoughts, Richard explained: “The prize took decades to create, and while the journey was long and arduous, it has all been so very worthwhile.”  

As a self-taught ceramics artist working with organic forms, Zhu shares in Richard’s experiential mentality. “My lack of formal training in ceramics emphasizes the experimentation in the self-formulated coiling process. Breakages are very common … the technique and precarious structures often lead to cracks or the entire vessel caving in,” she says.

However, after much time and many trials, Zhu says that in her own artistic field “the only option is to come to terms with the nature of the material and process.”

“The Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi resonates with this feeling of radical acceptance. Its aesthetic values take pleasure in the preservation of the irregular, the torn, the fractured, the decayed ... [contrasting] the current throw-away culture where disposables are favoured over durable goods that can be repaired,” says Zhu.

Image: Karina Dias Pires

As a result of this radical acceptance, each of Zhu’s coiled ceramic creations are inherently unique, unplanned and unimaginably beautiful. Inspired by the world around her, each piece is born from curiosity and observation of “stories, ecology, lived experiences, technology, science, experimentation, romance, discussions, aesthetics, old ideas, other people’s works, dreams, anything, and everything, really,” she explains. 

Furthermore, the art of slowness is not limited to Zhu’s ceramic creations. Rather, “slowness has now become an act of honouring my process and my general wellbeing”, she says. This is no more evident than in her morning and evening self and skincare routines, including tongue scraping, yoga, hot elixirs and of course, RATIONALE.

Ceramics on ply with Aeonium Tabuliforme, 2015

Image: Zhu Ohmu

As a Client and friend of the Brand, Zhu has been using RATIONALE for just over a year. On the daily, Zhu ensures her skin is protected from solar and environmental damage with #3 The Enriched Crème SPF15 and #3 The Enriched Eye Crème SPF15. Following this, Zhu reaches for Beautiful Bronze Superfluid SPF50 and Beautiful Cheeks Superfluid SPF50 for a hyper-natural and dewy finish. 

Come nighttime, Zhu removes the daily, and clay, debris with #4 The Cleanser before calming, clarifying and rejuvenating her skin with #5 The Milk Concentrate. Weekly, Zhu re-energises and reawakens her complexion with the bespoke accord of Antioxidants found in #2 The Mask. 

 When asked about her complexion Zhu tells us, “My skin is more clear, plump and less prone to breakouts.” And with that in mind, we are off to light a candle, press play on a mellow playlist and slow down with a skincare Ritual of our own. 

The Essential Six Questions

What does resilience mean to you?

For me, resilience is withstanding external pressures, and the ability to bounce back from difficulty. I believe nurturing a strong support network and establishing self-care routines can help with building personal resilience.

What gives you a sense of vitality?

Good food with good company, Pilates, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the Mediterranean, the completion of an artwork I’m really happy with, a good boogie, time for play.

How do you define Brilliance? 

Radiance from exceptional mastery. 

What does integrity mean to you?


Where do you go, or look, for clarity?

Clarity is not easy to come by and is usually found in stillness. 

What brings you a sense of rejuvenation and renewal?

A good night’s sleep, stretching and having the time to enjoy my self-care routines.