“Always a combination of a material and a problem.” Via a captivating interview, Natalia Kopytko invites us to explore her world of childhood archeology, social exclusion and forgotten stories, whether manifested through ceramic sculptures reminiscent of knotted seaweed or installations of stuffed textile organic shapes spilling over into space.

You don’t limit yourself to one material in your work. In addition to ceramics, you use various forms of textiles and natural materials. What rules do you follow when choosing materials for your works? Or is it the material itself that inspires you to create?

Throughout the years, my artistic body of work has varied between each art piece. This is because I am attracted to different visual media. I believe they carry the unique potential of symbolic meanings behind the structure, colour, thickness, and technology. 

It is always a combination of a material and a problem, a topic that interests me at a given moment. Ceramics is my favourite medium because it has been with me since childhood. I grew up in the small village of Łysa Góra, where the ceramics industry flourished in the 1960s and continued to develop until the end of the 1990s. I embodied ceramics in my art after an Erasmus scholarship in Valencia, where I discovered ceramics “once again”. I realised that it had always been a part of me when I found out that my grandfather was one of the founders of “Kamionka”, a ceramics cooperative in my village.

In your work from 2022, Lód and Licho you reflect on the morphology of roots, elements and bones through the formation of ceramic matter. Where does your interest in these structures come from?


I’m always curious about the past of things that are no longer with us but somehow remain in our lives. I often recall memories that seem to be distorted and skewed. They present past events in a different light, like dream archives. They create a parallel world that can be very interesting in terms of origin and history. 

I’m also exploring the topic of childhood archeology, in which nature plays a significant role just as imagination. We come from nature, from the soil itself. These are our roots, just like the roots of ceramics, which is one of the oldest, noble materials that carry the history of humanity.

What message do you find in these structures? What do they communicate to the audience?

Roots and rhizomes are the beginning of things, remaining underground, beneath the visible world, being the fruitful source of everything. In my works Lód and Licho, which are part of a series of sculptures that I created for the exhibition “Don’t look for me, where I’m hiding”, I explore the hidden beauty of birth and death. They are always present in nature, and we can experience them by walking in the forest, staring closely at the bushes, and listening carefully to the sounds of trees and soil. It’s like a metaphysical journey to a world so distant and yet so close to us, full of ghosts, secrets, and vibrant life.

What is the meaning of beauty and ugliness in art for you? Are they two distinct attributes for you or mutually influencing elements?

I would say they influence each other. This is very interesting to me: beauty and ugliness are just words we usually use to describe a characteristic but this can change over time. This is because we are evolving, constantly searching for meaning, which is very elusive. We are just trying to capture this meaning at a given point in time. 

In my research, I often refer to the Freudian concept of “Heimlich, Unheimlich” as a definition of the Uncanny to create works of art that are rooted in a familiar world but seem unfamiliar and strange.

Are the qualities of “beautiful” and “ugly” indispensable?

As I mentioned in a previous answer: to me, it’s not about the categories themselves, but about the quality of experience, searching, and discovering. The more we open ourselves to art, the more we gain. The more conscious, committed and faithful the art is to the artist’s statement, the better quality of the experience we will receive. Therefore, the quality of art is very important to me in different ways, depending on the goal I want to achieve. A part of my artistic path leads through technology and skills derived from ceramics. Without learning and continuous improvement, I would not be able to create in this medium. But generally speaking, I believe that quality is a means to an end, it should not take over the artist’s statement, but at the same time, it cannot be neglected or ignored.

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Natalia Kopytko was born in 1981 in Brzesko, Poland. She spent her childhood in Łysa Góra. In 2007, she graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 2019, she obtained a doctoral degree at the Faculty of Art of the Pedagogical University in Krakow. She also studied at the Universidad Politecnica de Vlencia facultad de Bellas Artes. Natalia is also a scholarship holder of the Minister of Culture and Art from the “Young Poland” programme in 2016 and received the Creative Scholarship of the City of Krakow in 2018 and 2020, a scholarship from the Resilient Culture programme. She participated in international symposiums and residencies: in 2012, the Wood Sculpture Symposium in Muğla in Turkey, in 2016, in the residencie Obey or not to be Obey in Luxembourg. Natalia works in sculpture and installation. In her artistic practice, she deals with topics related to social exclusion and forgotten stories. She is interested in the concept of childhood archeology. Natalia has had many individual and group exhibitions. He belongs to the art collective O.W.L. She lives and works in Krakow.


Artist / Natalia Kopytko @natalia__kopytko

Interview / Agáta Zapotilová @agata_zapotilova 

Art/ exhibitions

„Don’t look for me where I’m hiding” – exhibition at BWA Tarnów. Curator: Zosia Małysa Janczy, photo: Przemysław Sroka.,1057,wystawy,natalia-kopytko–-nie-szukaj-mnie-tam-gdzie-sie-schowalam.html

„Inny/ Obcy/ Ten Sam. Widmowa obecność Hansa Bellmera i niepoznawalne prawo pożądania” – exhibition at Rondo Sztuki, Katowice. Curators: Roman Lewandowski, Marta Lisok

„Green Pleasure” – exhibition at Shefter Gallery, Kraków. Curator: Agnieszka Gołębiewska

„Yesterday I died 432 billion times” – as O.W.L. Art Collective, an exhibition at Krakers Cracow Gallery Week, Kraków. Curator: Marcin Sipiora

„Fryz I Emblemat” – exhibition at private space in Warsaw. Curator: Bartosz Przybył-Ołowski

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