You are currently viewing Caroline Ruijgrok – In to the muddy river

Caroline Ruijgrok – In to the muddy river

Caroline Ruijgrok meanders in her practice between a direct, almost unmediated handling of material and a view from above. She makes sculptures and installations and also curates exhibitions, books (How things move us, 2016, – Trebelsee; This is a translation, 2019, mister Motley) and teaching programs.

Her ceramic work touches on a basic experience of physicality, contiguity and deformation – and has been shown at the Korean International Ceramic Biennale (2021). She also makes spatial work for public space in collaboration with Sajoscha Talirz. Their most recent sculpture RISE (2023) has recently been placed in the Eendrachtspark in Amsterdam Nieuw-West.

Lieneke Hulshof wrote about the artist in Metropolis M: “In her work, Caroline Ruijgrok hands over control to the materials with which she works. Her industrial looking studio contrasts with the colorful landscape of amorphous sculptures full of folds, wrinkles and bark-like skins that it houses. In her steel, concrete and ceramic objects she wants to see the movements of the process of making reflected in the final form. The sculptures are compressed or pulled apart. Like a mold that is hung up so that the concrete that she pours into it determines the final shape. ‘The plastic properties of the material may also determine what happens’, she tells me in her studio, ‘just as the weight of the concrete influences the creation of the final shape.’ She does not throw clay on the wheel, her own hand would be too directing in that action. Clay, like dough, can sink into a certain shape, but if it gets too wet or too dry, the momentum is gone and the clay can’t move in its own direction anymore. Her sculptures have come to a standstill at a certain moment, and that moment determines the form. ‘The creative process is a kind of dance between me and the material, sometimes I lead and at other times I have to follow.’


In her work process, Ruijgrok is constantly looking for moments in which there is an equivalence between the actions of her body and the behavior of the material. By explicitly holding space for this behavior, in how the clay drips, the glaze cracks or the concrete sags, lies a desire to postpone the production of meaning. The partially relinquishing of control to the material itself, is an attempt to escape in the moment of making from the human need to continuously create (rational) connections. ‘How we look at things, how we experience ourselves and our environment, is completely embedded in the language we have at our disposal. We can hardly escape that. I experience that as a limitation, as if there is some kind of filter, like sunglasses, between me and the physical world. I try to go around that filter. I doubt that I will ever succeed completely, but it is this curiosity that drives me.’”

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