Ceramics in Flux

Binary by Yurim Gough

One of my favourite artists-to-watch, the brilliant Yurim Gough, is having something of a busy year. Having just finished exhibiting in The RWA’s Drawn exhibition in Bristol, she’s also been selected to show works at the Flux Exhibition in London this July.

FLUX exhibition is on at Chelsea College of Arts, London, from July 12-16th July 2017.

Binary by Yurim Gough

Binary by Yurim Gough

“The ceramic pieces which I will be exhibiting at Flux are much larger than any I’ve created before, but follow on in development from the bowls I’ve made previously,” Yurim explains. “I had the idea that by setting the bowls in relief into a much larger vase, I could display more than one of my individual as part of the same piece.”

It’s a unique method, bringing together Yurim’s beautiful, provocative artworks into tangible series. “It means that I can have a theme for each piece.”

Loves by Yurim Gough

Loves by Yurim Gough

Her first work in the series is a vase with a single concave face in the side, “like a bowl set into it.” The next in the series has two faces, and three and so on up to the sixth piece, which has six faces (would have loved the surprise here of seven faces, but that’s just my contrary side). “The pieces with one, three, four and six faces have been completed and will be exhibited,” Yurim says.

Mother Earth by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Mother Earth by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Each vase is a study in compare and contrast, with several opposing and complimentary opposites, Yurim tells me, “such the inverted faces and the pointed tops of the vases, like male and female, yin and yang.”

Birth by Yurim Gough

Birth by Yurim Gough

The first piece, pictured directly above, is titled Birth. “It has one face, showing unity, the sperm and the egg.”

The second piece, shown in the first tow images in this post, is Binary, and is shaped into two concave breasts, or buttocks, with the artwork highlighting these feminine body parts so hyper-sensualised by modern ideals of beauty and fashion.

Wind by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Wind by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

The fourth work, Elements, offers Yurim’s take on water, fire, wind and mother earth, while the sixth vase, Loves, reveals six different kinds of love.

“I began adding colour to my work at the end of 2015, and found this enabled me to take a new direction with my art,” says Yurim. “When I began carrying out my life drawings on the ceramics, I saw that the pictures in it prompted me to think about the shapes of the human body and how these reflect on the potential of our lives.”

Water by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Water by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

To explore this idea further, Yurim went beyond her life drawings to sample and blend in images sourced from the internet “to bring the stories I imagined to life.”

It’s an exciting project set to stir intrigue and recognition in viewers to the show. See them for yourself at FLUX exhibition from July 12-16th July 2017, at Chelsea College of Arts, London.

Find full details at fluxexhibition.com and yurimgough.com.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

A different kind of art fair

Hide and Seek by artist Yurim Gough

Hide and Seek by artist Yurim Gough

A while ago I wrote about the talents of life artist and ceramicist Yurim Gough. Her work still astounds me.

Hide and Seek by Yurim Gough

Hide and Seek by Yurim Gough

If you haven’t yet laid eyes on it yourself, you might want to hot foot it to Victoria House, London WC1A 2QP. Yurim is showcasing the quiet resonance of her pieces at The Other Art Fair there until 10th April 2016.

Recent works include this trio of hand shaped, stone-fired bowls, titled Hide and Seek.

Each one shows a life model in the same pose, shown from a different perspective. I think they would make a wonderful #writingprompt too!

Find details of The Other Art Fair here.

Both beautiful and useful

Lucy Winch ceramic cupThe glazes used by Lucy Winch create landscapes and shores around the edges of her ceramics. Endless skies meet moors and lakes glint so darkly blue that they could be brimming with ink that will stain the lips of anyone who drinks from them. There’s a poetry to Lucy’s work, and yet what she makes is almost always useful in some way. They are vessels for liquid and food, linocut cards, and cosy crocheted booties.

Lucy Winch ceramic deer lino print

“Crafting is actually my hobby,” Lucy says. “I hope in the future to be able to sell my ceramics for a living but with a young family and mortgage I choose to stay in my current job which is a clinical scientist in radiotherapy!”

Lucy Winch crochet booties

It wasn’t until after having her first child that Lucy learned how to crochet, “which is when I started to make my baby booties with a sheepskin sole. They were so expensive in the shops that I wanted to make them accessible to new parents, knowing their babies would grow very quickly. This is when I began to explore wool as a medium and realised I have a real affinity for it.”

Lucy has always loved art, developing “the bug for ceramics” after she began a training post in Stoke on Trent about 16 years ago. “A flatmate came home with some pottery and I was amazed that you could still learn such a thing, and so I did a GCSE in ceramics.”

She has attended evening classes ever since, exploring ways to make art that also has a purposeful element. “I’m a very practical person which is why I think I have a love of functional ware,” she says. “My favourite ceramic medium is a wonderful French stoneware clay I buy from a ceramicist in the Gower.”

Lucy Winch ceramic vessels

It wasn’t until Lucy moved to Easton that she began to sell her work to help fund her evening classes. “The Easton Arts Trail was the perfect introduction to selling my work and I realised I loved meeting likeminded people and chatting about anything and everything!”

Crafty Blackbird bowl

Lucy’s love of natural hues influences her work. “I love blues and greens and my preferred method of glazing is dipping my pots in glaze, but since I changed evenings classes to Maze studios I’ve started to try different techniques.”

Lucy Winch pot with lid

Inspiration for her artwork abounds “in nature, on travels, beach combing finds, museums and though visiting other pottery studios. For me ceramics is such a wonderful medium, and paying consideration to the glazing is as important as the form of the thrown piece itself.”

Lucy credits Mark Hearld and Angie Lewin  as having prompted her to try lino cutting. “The process takes something away from the exactness of drawing and therefore I feel I create something which is a more abstract version of what I start with, and I love that,” she says. “The end result for me is an image that becomes alive with the cuts visible. This is where my blackbird name came from. I love watching the birds in my back garden and I have a Rowan tree that blackbirds love to pick on when the berries are ripe. I decided to try and do a lino cut and my blackbird was created.”

Lucy Winch Crafty Blackbird lino print

But her true passion remains ceramics. It’s is my lifeline; my meditation, mindfulness, relaxation. As soon as I get on the wheel my mind switches off to all my worries and it’s wonderful.”

Find Lucy at www.thecraftyblackbird.co.uk and on Facebook.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Nature cast in ceramic, glass and bronze

Ancient Echos cr Debra Steidel_Nature_shot

Ancient Echos © Debra Steidel

Drawing inspiration from the landscapes around her Texas Hill country home, Debra Steidel creates vessels that look as though they’ve been unearthed from a grotto far underground.

These beautiful works seem to offer insights into lost civilisations with a deep love and respect for the natural world. Alternatively they could have form through the movements of nature – tide or quake or even eruption. Their appearance is enticingly elemental, yet these are contemporary sculptures made with skill and a lifetime’s worth of experimenting with clays and glazes.

Debra never had any intention of being anything other than an artist.I sketched as a young child, dug clay from a creek behind the house where I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. I even drew architectural drawings of houses at the age of 10. My mother bought me my first set of oil paints at 11 years old.”

Soul Mates cr Debra Steidel

Soul Mates © Debra Steidel

Debra’s desire to throw on the potter’s wheel arose during her senior year in high school. “We had very little equipment or funding in the two classroom art department. There was a treadle wheel in one of the rooms and a trash barrel full of lumpy clay. My teacher didn’t really know how to throw so I tried to figure it out myself!”

Debra took a six-week beginner’s class in throwing, then bought herself a professional potters’ wheel. This was in 1974 – she was 18 years old. “I got books from the library to learn how to glaze, fire a kiln and just threw pots every day. It was a passion.”

Debra had discovered the medium she loved. She began to produce exquisite vessels, eventually coming up with the unique artworks I saw at the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol. With these works, the lids – handcrafted from clay then cast in bronze or in frosted glass resembling sea glass – are as much a part of the designs as the pots themselves.

Shadow Dancer cr Debra_Steidel

Shadow Dancer © Debra Steidel

“Oddly enough, my current body of work of crystalline glazed vessels with lids resulted from an injury to my hand,” she says wryly. “At that time my work was thrown and then manipulated – it was very sculptural. With this injury I couldn’t throw pots or sculpt for several months. I took this recovery time to experiment with glazes and that is how I discovered the current glazes I use. When I finally could throw again, it was small vessels. I wanted to make them special and so the lid was born.”

The lids take the form of birds, leaves or other shapes spied in nature, a driving force for Debra throughout her career.

“A body of work I created in the 90s was totally inspired by sea life,” she recalls. “During the last few years, each visit to a museum has given me another jump start. Lately the work of René Lalique, an amazing artist and glass designer born in France in the 1800s, has given me so much inspiration. The ideas I have for my work extend way beyond the years I will have to make them! What a fortunate position to be in.”

Ocean Whisper cr Debra Steidel

Ocean Whisper © Debra Steidel

Debra relishing the expressiveness of creating at every opportunity. “I work pretty much every day, either making my work or at an art fair exhibiting and selling my pieces. That may not sound like freedom, but if it is what you want to be doing with your life, it truly is freedom!”

You can see more of Debra’s work at www.steidelfineartporcelain.com, which features a fantastic video of Debra making Shadow Dancers – one of her lidded vessels. She takes her work to 26 art fairs a year in the United States as well as exhibiting in US galleries. In the UK Debra is represented by Maxwell Chapman at Opper & Webb Fine Art Dealers.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

The joy of clay with ceramicist Rose Bates

Asian Dreams cr Rose Bates

Asian Dreams © Rose Bates

Ceramacist Rose Bates fell in love with clay after exploring almost every other creative form she could imagine.

“Weaving, chair caning, cake decorating and more – there was always something missing, all fun but short lived and none left a desire to carry on,” she says. “In 1992, a friend persuaded me to take GCSE Art and Design at our local Adult Education Centre. As chance would have it, as well as being an accomplished artist, our tutor’s real expertise was in ceramics. Handling clay with its versatile properties and endless artistic possibilities, I was hooked.”

Deep Blue Sea cr Rose Bates

Deep Blue Sea © Rose Bates

Rose stayed on to study Art and Design A-level, Art and Design A-level 3D, and spent four years gaining a City and Guilds Ceramics in Hampshire and Sussex.

“City & Guilds invites complete commitment and discipline towards your subject, a challenge for a Gemini like myself, used to flitting from one idea to another,” she says. “Initially, there was heavy emphasis on drawing and designing projects, with no contact with clay. During the four years, I was pushed to become competent in throwing, glaze making, hand-building and so on, as well as designing my own pieces of work from start to finish.”

Female Torso cr Rose Bates

Female Torso © Rose Bates

In the midst of this, several techniques gradually came to the fore. “The excitement of creating my own glazes, with the mixing and sifting of oxides seemed like alchemy with a hint of danger, especially as some elements are highly toxic in the raw state,” she says. “Choosing a tricky glaze to create seemed a good idea, although choosing macro crystalline glazes was risky.   This technique  requires perfect balance between mixing the right ingredients and  managing the temperature of the kiln in order for  crystals to grow.  Get it wrong and you are left with a perfectly good shiny glaze – but no crystals.”

During this time, Rose also “rediscovered the art of fire. Having nearly set a hillside on fire at the age of nine in Kent while cooking sausages in a frying pan, I finally had a legitimate use of tinder. RAKU  `Happiness by Chance’ is the ancient Japanese technique of firing bowls for tea ceremonies and today offers endless attractive surfaces on pots and sculpture.”

Treasure cr Rose Bates

Treasure © Rose Bates

Rose particularly enjoys “fashioning a lump of clay into something hopefully attractive (sometimes useful) and lasting, as well as finding new colour in glaze. I have also entered a world full of dynamic artist friends, uncovered opportunities to travel and to hold classes in my studio, gathering students as local education colleges close down vocational subjects.”

Her work is driven by the desire to “find new ways to express art in clay, using folk art of world cultures, the natural world and the human body.”

The Chase-Crystalline soft greens:blue of a mermaid and dolphin-Rose Bates

The Chase © Rose Bates

Rose’s ceramics are regularly exhibited in Sea Sky Art, Southampton, Rum’s Eg Gallery, Hampshire, Crafters Gallery, Dorset, and The Creative Gallery, Wareham.

To contact Rose, email bates4crystal(at)btinternet.com.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Lifework with Yurim Gough

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-two-women-angle-viewWho says drawings need to be done on paper or canvas? Korean artist Yurim Gough has found clay to be the perfect medium, much to her own surprise.

“It was always my dream to be an artist, but in my own country I never even touched clay,” says the former fashion designer, who moved to Bristol eight years ago in search of a new creative direction.

In fashion design Yurim experimented with a multitude of materials, but says it took five years of exploring “new mediums for my art, such as wood-carving, before I found that the feeling of clay told me that it was my thing to use. In fashion design I took great satisfaction from realising my imagination, and the attraction of clay is in being able to achieve that same satisfaction.”


Since early childhood, Yurim has “always been drawing. I was looking for a long time for what I could do that would make me the most happy, and since the drawing had always done this, and now the clay did too, it just happened that I brought these two things together.”


It was a visit to “a reclusive local pebble beach” that helped realisation dawn. “I was playing with the stones, drawing on them with a pencil for fun and making up stories.”

Yurim is entirely self-taught, developing her skills through “concentration and repetition. I went to lots of life drawing sessions on and off for a period of almost 20 years.”


To create the ceramic bowls and other objects that she likes to draw on, she explains, “I hand-mold the pieces, then they are bisque fired, then I draw in front of a live model with ceramic pencil.”

Following this, the artwork is glazed then fired. “I then apply gold lustre and fire again.”


Through combining her ceramics with her beloved drawing, Yurim says she had something of a breakthrough. “I have never rubbed anything out when life drawing, because there is not enough time,” she says. “One day I was drawing and made a mistake and in frustration, I crossed strong lines through the attempt. It made me feel so free, I suddenly realised that this was me, and carried on. I also found that drawing like this, I could focus in a way I had not been able to before.”


The result is a sketchy, vibrant style crammed with vitality. Her figures are gorgeous but imperfect, just as we are – in fact, their stunning beauty lies in their imperfections.

Being in front of a living, breathing model has an impact too.

“I love the human energy giving me craziness, sadness, happiness and other feelings – it is different every time.”


They fizz within their stillness, seemingly holding in emotions evident in their posture, and where their tensions lie, with Yurim’s lines emphasising this with powerful understatement.

The restrictions imposed by a life class drives her productivity, that, “and wanting see what the result will be. Living in my country, and working in fashion, I never had any time. Coming to Bristol things slowed down and I realised what I could do with limited time. In life drawing, you have a fixed time limit for the pose but you have to slow down and see what comes out.”

Find more of Yurim’s work at yurimgough.com and shop.theotherartfair.com/artists/yurim-gough.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Figurework with Linda Samson

Life class 2 ceramic tile painting cr Linda Samson

Life class 2 ceramic tile painting © Linda Samson

The figures in Linda Samson’s artwork exude a distinct sense of solidity. Captured in paint, pen and ink or ceramics, they inhabit an enviably tangible space, as though they live deeply felt, vibrant lives just beyond their frames.

This impression makes sense to me when Linda explains that she draws inspiration from the Oceanic art of the Pacific Islands and, most recognisably perhaps, the monolithic statues of Easter Island.

“I think the strong forms came initially from my discovery of Oceanic art and the joined or reflected images from a study I did at the British Museum of conjoined twins,” Linda says. “Being traditionally trained at Glasgow School of Art, life drawings formed the foundations of my figurative style.”

The Bowl of Cherries, oil on canvas cr Linda Samson

The Bowl of Cherries, oil on canvas © Linda Samson

Continue reading