Art review – RWA Open Exhibition 166

Daydream by John Huggins. Photo by Judy DarleyThe galleries at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) have a grandeur about them that rivals many of the world’s finest art museums. Their annual open exhibition opens up those spaces to any artist with vision and talent. I adore the democratic nature of this annual show, where anyone can submit their work for the possibility of seeing it selected to see it hang or stand among notable creations ranging from the famous, to the infamous.

The 166th open exhibition lives up to those aims, with paintings crowding walls to the extent that at times you’ll be crouching, and at others balancing on tiptoe. Inevitably, this leads to some being more difficult to view, and more than once, I was asked by older gallery visitors to read out the small notices revealing artist and exhibit name.

Offerings (Earth) by Jenny Leigh_Photo by James Beck

Offerings (Earth) by Jenny Leigh_Photo by James Beck

Sculptures gathered in unexpected groupings too, from totem-esque found and assembled materials, to a transparent bin bag crammed with what resembled rubbish, amid elegant creations such as Yurim Gough’s Four Elements. Invited artists Jock Mcfadden RA and Carol Robertson provided anchor points, while the RWA’s own Academicians offered some familiarity.

The whimsical Octavia (below) by Caroline Taylor summoned up memories of myths – we sorely wanted to take her home, but found had already sold. Other favourites included Clouds, Fields, Moor by Andrew Hardwick and John Huggins’ Daydream, shown at the top of this post.

Octavia by Caroline Taylor

Octavia by Caroline Taylor

In other instances, it was human figures who enchanted us, in ceramics, bronze, ink and paint. A quizzically tilted head or the choice of a cabbage and pigeon as a crown was enough to elicit charmed giggles.

Altogether, despite the number of landscapes and abstracts on offer, this is a very congenial exhibition. The majority of the selected items brim with personality. Whether inspired by human, by animal or by a playful or startling blend of the two, the artworks on show given the impression of freezing momentarily as we enter, and continuing their conversational chatter after we depart.

Mule Head by Dorcas Casey_Photo by James Beck

Mule Head by Dorcas Casey_Photo by James Beck

The less characterful creations are, for the most part, equally enticing. I saw a child zone in immediately to this sculpture below, drawn by its bright colour and resemblance to a familiar toy.

RWA Open Exhibition 2018. Photo by James Beck

RWA Open Exhibition 2018. Photo by James Beck

To me that’s much of the magic of an assembled exhibition like this, where serious themes give way to the joy of originality. It invites us to remember the delight of creating – of letting our imaginations loose to rambunctiously play. This is an open exhibition that celebrates art in all its forms, and invites us to bring our own openness to the mix.

Until 25th November 2018 at the RWA, Bristol.

Seen, read or experienced anything interesting recently? I’d love to know. I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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.

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.”

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-lying-on-the-stripes-angle-view

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.”

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-rest-my-feet-top-view

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.”

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-sitting-on-the-dots-top-view

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.”

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-young-girl-side-view

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.”

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-young-girl-top-view

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.”

yurim-gough-korean-ceramic-artist-sleeping-on-the-wave-angle-view

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.