Dawn Youll’s vibrant ceramic sculptures are an expression of her personal environment - responses to familiar items found around her home and studio, to local streetscapes, or the kinds of things she comes across in the course of routine journeys. Her method of analysing and distilling the essence of ordinary objects, such as lean-to garden sheds and wheelie bins, to create emphatic signs, offers incisive insights into contemporary experience.
She understands the power of the ceramic ornament as a carrier of stories, memories and emotions, and notes the ways in which these items have been produced to record and commemorate many aspects of life throughout history. She points out how such ceramic forms have ‘… the ability to represent an “elsewhere” in a familiar domestic setting’, adding that: ‘I am interested in the shift of consciousness - be it a memory or a notion – that this can cause. Because the familiar allows us to make sense of our environment, I gather glimpses of it and literally lay them on the table, individual elements recorded as ceramic objects, as an investigation into how we view and interact with our surroundings.’
A recent move of home and studio has brought her new sources of inspiration. In addition to garden sheds and wheelie bins, in this recent body of work there are the traces of a shiny red and chrome motorbike, the hook of a pulley-operated clothes airer and the curve of a ladder upon a chimney stack. Through a working process that includes photography and collage, Youll seeks to abstract key aspects of form and visual rhythm from her subjects before building, slipcasting and finally glazing the elements to produce a sculptural composition. The resulting juxtapositions of both familiar and ambiguous shapes invariably hint at some kind of human intervention or pattern of behaviour, collectively creating a context of meaning. Within these allusive, highly sophisticated works the viewer finds an unexpected poetry of everyday life.
Dawn Youll (b. 1977) studied at Glasgow School of Art (1996 – 1999) and Maryland Institute of Art & Design, Baltimore (1999). Following a period of work in the film and television industry she undertook MA studies at the National Centre for Ceramics Wales at Cardiff School of Art & Design (2007 – 2008). Her work has featured in numerous exhibitions across the UK and she represented the UK at the European Ceramic Context exhibition in Denmark, and in Ceramics: The New Generation (European Crafts Council exhibition), France, both in 2010. In 2011 she was awarded the prestigious Arts Foundation Fellowship for Ceramics and in the same year co-curated the touring exhibition Placement (with Lowri Davies) for Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Powys, and Fife Contemporary Art & Craft, 2011. Her work can be found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Crafts Council, London. This will be her first solo exhibition at Marsden Woo Gallery.