Rencontre #20Parole de BreizhOlivier Roche
Olivier Roche Ceramiste 3Olivier Roche Ceramiste 3
©Olivier Roche Ceramiste 3|Jean-Paul Frétillet

Olivier Roche, ceramic potter

In this, our twentieth interview, we meet Olivier Roche. A ceramist based in Pleumeur-Bodou, he combines passion and technique to create unique pieces inspired by his deep connection with nature. His path, nourished by a series of significant encounters and an intense emotion for ceramic art, reflects his close bond with the elements.
Published on 14 February 2024

Parole de Breizh, invites you to discover the Pink Granite Coast through encounters with those who live, transform and cultivate Brittany. These ambassadors are craftsmen, artists, producers… but above all, inhabitants of Trégor. They love the Pink Granite Coast and explain why it’s important to cultivate what’s essential!

Olivier Roche reveals an atypical career path. After studying history and working in historical monuments, he discovered his passion for ceramics. This experience of “matter” awakened his passion for ceramics, a love that gradually took shape, nourished by enriching encounters with other ceramists.

From workshop to workshop in the Monts d’Arrée and Trégor regions, recognition arrived at potter’s markets and fairs. With the experience of the years, Olivier Roche finds deep satisfaction in preserving ancient skills and sharing his art with the public.

How do you become a ceramist?

In the process that led me to ceramics, a number of encounters played a decisive role. These striking exchanges with renowned ceramists, particularly in Paris, triggered a deep emotion in me. Holding their work in my hands, I was overwhelmed by pure emotion, to the point of tears.
That moment was a real wake-up call, prompting me to take a greater interest in this art form and to follow training courses.
Despite the process of cultivation and acculturation that followed, this initial experience remains a revelation for me.

Ceramics is a profession that allows us to connect with the earth. But it’s not just about the clay, it also forces you to stand on your own two feet, to be firmly anchored.

The spirit that animates things, I live it! What I create isn’t really me creating it. It’s a creative force at work.

Olivier Roche

Mind-matter ceramics

It’s a fantastic job because there’s all this alchemy involved. It’s a real connection to nature and its elements, where fire plays a crucial role. The alchemy created in the kiln is almost symbolic, and although ceramists are not alchemists, they have to deal with the mysteries of fire, which ultimately decides the outcome. This unpredictable and vast dimension of the craft is what makes it particularly fascinating. In addition to shaping the material, each ceramist develops his or her own technique, in this case: I turn!

Working with clay reveals a fascinating aspect: despite the material’s initial resistance, there’s a moment when creation seems to take care of itself. This reveals a mystery, a kind of invisible force at work. In craftsmanship, despite learning techniques and struggling against material resistance, there are moments when magic happens, when creation seems to transcend our individual will. It’s a dizzying experience that connects us to something larger than our own creative spirit. In the end, we are simply the channels through which a creative force acts.

Julien’s Chinese portrait

If you were an element? “Fire
If you were a color? “Blue
If you were a season? “Spring”.
If you were a word? “Spirit-matter”
What if you were a Breton animal? “The tern”.

Why a workshop in Trégor?

My decision to settle in Trégor was largely influenced by my partner, but I also have a particular attachment to Finistère. I’ve never lived by the sea. On the other hand, I’ve always lived inland.

It’s clear that living by the sea is a powerful experience, but at the same time, it makes you feel privileged. However, I have noticed some similarities with the inland areas where I grew up.

Living by the sea has had an influence on my ceramics: blue has become the dominant color. It’s a color that runs the gamut from blue-gray to turquoise. It also brings us back to the infinity of the sky or the infinity of the sea. So it’s an extraordinary color.

The seaside also means seabirds and terns in the sky. In the spirit!

Cultivating the essential

What does the phrase “Cultivate the essential” inspire in you?

“I feel like saying, I’m a cultivator. A cultivator of my being, and my job contributes to that. I think everyone is invited to cultivate the essential, through their own lives and within themselves. This is done through a creative process, with a profession.”

But to cultivate the essential is to become oneself, to become an accomplished “human”, knowing that we will never be totally so.

Olivier Roche

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