Balance and Tension – a visit to the Glynn Vivian.

Last year I managed a rare trip to a gallery (a snatched moment between lockdowns!) primarily to see the fabulous Pansy – Roy Efrat and Catrin Webster’s collaborative exhibition in the Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea. While there I was chuffed to spot an old piece of mine displayed in the Swansea Collection gallery.

This is a very old piece and very different from my more recent work. So much so that I have been pondering these differences in order to find the parallels and convergences as well as the more obvious divergences. The linkages are largely based on balance and tension. This early form, above, is finely balanced, a vessel poised to the point of creating tension through a sense of its precariousness. The geometry of the fine lines of inlaid stained clay reiterating that sense of a poised moment in time. 

In contrast this more recent piece, made during my Masters course at UWTSD Swansea College of Art, eschews the clean lines of form and surface pattern and texture. It is no longer even a vessel, a container, in the traditional sense. But still there is that same wrestling with balance and tension, only now that poise is gone; the piece is actually beginning to tip and is in fact balancing, precariously, on warped and layered clay walls. The surface pattern and texture, created by imprinting the clay with plastic mesh, contains areas where the mesh is bunching up and areas of space where the mesh is stretched or torn echoing the warped and torn clay walls.

Shades of Clay

My work can currently be seen at Kunsthuis in the annual ceramics exhibition ‘Shades of Clay’ which features 25 UK and international ceramicists. The exhibition runs until 24th December.

“Shades of Clay’ comprises a whole breadth of clay based work from potters/ceramicists using everything from traditional hand-building techniques to the latest new technologies creating 3D printed ceramics as well as wheel-based and slip cast wares.

Kunsthuis is the Contemporary Art Gallery in Dutch House, Crayke, near York and also features Gardens and a café – I can recommend the walks around the gardens and the café’s delicious coffee and brownies amongst many other things. Kunsthuis were finalists in the White Rose Awards 2016.

If you get the chance please do make the effort to go and see it. Kunsthuis also shows paintings, prints, sculpture, jewellery and other craft-based work. The Gallery, Gardens and Café are open from 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Shades of Clay exhibition
Shades of Clay exhibition

Shades of Clay exhibition at Kunsthuis
Hide and Gangue

Maker in Focus

My latest work is now on display in the Mission Gallery’s Maker in Focus space until 3 April. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 5pm. Some images of the work can be seen on the new portfolio page of my website. A big thank you to Amanda, Rhian and all at the Mission for all your help and advice.

maker in focus exhibition

This body of work was produced with the support of the Arts Council of Wales.


Arts Council of Wales Logo

WAG logo for web


After the Firing

My exhibition for Maker in Focus at the Mission Gallery in Swansea is fast approaching and I’m running out of shelf space in my studio! I am having to do a number of firings in quick succession especially as I was held up earlier this week by Storm Imogen when the electricity kept cutting out.

julie brunskill studio

I will be Maker in Focus from 23 February – 3 April.

Out of the ashes … and floods!

York Floods
York Floods

Between Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016 we headed up to the north of England to visit family and friends in York and Middlesbrough. On such a short, busy visit there was little time for art, especially with the dreadful flooding in York, but we still managed to squeeze in a visit to CoCA. They have a wonderful ceramics collection there and an impressive installation by Clare Twomey, but I was most interested in the Anthony Shaw Collection with its emphasis on art, particularly ceramics, seen in a domestic setting.

CoCA at York Art Gallery
Anthony Shaw Collection

I had far too short a time there and intend going again – but there was quite a pricy (and controversial!) entrance fee so if anyone is interested in going I recommend making sure you have plenty of time to make the most of it.

The Anthony Shaw Collection is there until 2017 I think.

We headed up to Middlesbrough with the assumption that this time we wouldn’t get to MIMA as the website showed that it would be closed the entire time we were there. However we happened upon it while it was open for an event and had 10 minutes to make a truly flying visit round the Localism exhibition – also well worth a visit but this exhibition finishes 7 February 2016.

While there I found a piece of work by my old tutor, David Greaves, Cleveland College of Art – atypical in size and form, I think, but showing his trademark marbling technique. I was saddened to see only the words David Greaves, the title and ‘Date of Birth and Death unknown’. It wouldn’t have taken too much effort to at least get that little bit of information I would think. Not to mention the fact that he was Head of Ceramics in Cleveland College of Art for several years.

David Greaves, Ceramic Form
David Greaves, Ceramic Form

David brought significant ceramics exhibitions to the art college – Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, Martin Smith and Gordon Baldwin. I was lucky as a past student to be invited to Baldwin’s brilliant lecture shortly before leaving the North East of England for South West Wales. As I understand it David worked quietly behind the scenes helping develop a great contemporary ceramics collection for the newly created Cleveland Craft Centre.

MIMA rose from the ashes of the Cleveland Craft Centre, Cleveland Art Gallery and Middlesbrough Art Gallery – another unsung gallery that was the original host of the wonderful and much missed Cleveland Drawing Biennale. I can’t help my thoughts turning to these lost spaces as the Arts, yet again, face such bleak times.

Clare Twomey, Installation detail
Clare Twomey, Installation detail


Gordon Baldwin
Gordon Baldwin

Photography copyright Alastair Duncan

No School, Not Too Precious and Flora.

I recently travelled to North Wales, with husband and younger daughter, visiting some galleries that were either new to me or that I haven’t seen in many years and that have undergone significant development.

Oriel Mostyn Shop
Oriel Mostyn Shop

Oriel Mostyn was first on the itinerary – the main exhibition ‘No School’ – Camille Blatrix was intriguing but there was little in the way of information and I have to admit to spending most of the too-short time we had there in the lovely craft shop area. So much to see and admire but no money to buy unfortunately.

The next day we went to Ruthin Craft Centre and had a wonderful time at the international jewellery exhibition ‘Not Too Precious’. Here I should say I’d intended this trip for a month or two later but having a daughter, Hannah – a final year student on the Contemporary Design Craft course in Hereford desperate to see this exhibition I brought the trip forward.

So pleased I did as this is a brilliant show in a beautifully designed gallery. I loved not simply the jewellery but also the video of people trying some of the exhibits on – also enjoyed being able to try one on myself! It was a piece I wouldn’t choose visually but was wonderfully tactile. My favourite piece was by the Hungarian jeweller Flora Vagi and I thought it might have been ceramic but it isn’t!

Adam Buick at Ruthin
Adam Buick

The retail space is fantastic too (I coveted an Adam Buick pot with a ‘crack’ snaking up one side!) and the member of staff there was extremely welcoming and helpful especially to Hannah as a student. We could have spent much longer there but instead had a delicious lunch in the cafe then headed off to Oriel Davies in Newtown.

This is a gallery that is completely new to me and another very attractive exhibition space quite different to the other two with a different focus and a retail space with little in the way of craft but a great selection of books. The ‘Flora’ exhibition was on at that time and we all enjoyed it – it is moving on now to Oriel Myrddin in Carmarthen so it will be interesting to see it there too and see how/if it changes the experience.

I had a great time in all these galleries and can’t wait to go again. Maybe next time I’ll even take some photos. I was too busy drinking it all in so these photos are courtesy of my husband, Alastair Duncan – thank you Alastair!

Anya Galaccio at Oriel Davies
Anya Galaccio at Oriel Davies