Work by Ceramicist Sam Lucas

Fireworks’ Graduate Scheme

CSAD Ceramics has strong ties to Fireworks Clay Studios one of the largest, longest running ceramics co-operatives in Europe. Established by BA graduates almost 25 years ago the studio boasts 18 ceramics practitioners, the majority of which began their careers in CSAD’s BA and MA programmes.

Fireworks’ graduate scheme continues to nurture new talent by subsidizing two graduates each year from BA or MA ceramics programmes from anywhere in the country, enabling them to work within the knowledge and support of this acclaimed organization. Cardiff graduates from Kim Colebrook and Sam Lucas explain what this opportunity has meant to them.

Kim Colebrook

Work by Ceramicist Kim Colebrook

Being awarded a Graduate Studio Space at Fireworks Clay Studios, Cardiff was a fantastic way to complete my Ceramics MA – something I’d aspired to but never thought I’d achieve.

Taking my tools, clay and general “stuff” from Cardiff Met into this holy grail of ceramic artists was a daunting prospect but everybody makes you so welcome. To have a studio was great, but the biggest benefit has been the support and encouragement, as well as the opportunity to discover how some of the UK’s best ceramic artists work; their commitment, challenges and successes. To then be able to chat about your pricing approach, to see how much work is involved in preparing an exhibition or a new collection of work, to be part of the Studio Open Day and then to have feedback on your work is invaluable.

So, in that context, I have been applying to be part of exhibitions – successes have included being selected for the Rising Stars exhibition at New Ashgate Gallery and the Emerging Artist exhibition at Creates Gallery in Monmouth. Selling exhibitions have included “Beacons to the Sea” at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon, before Christmas and having to restock Bevere Gallery a couple of times. I even plucked up courage to approach Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre and they now have a small selection of work for the shop, as do Oriel Cric in Crickhowell.

Now its about looking forward. An application has been submitted for the National Eisteddfod (with much encouragement from Fireworks – fingers crossed), and I’m looking to apply for a space at Made by Hand, Cardiff and the ICF Emerging Makers Award, as well as putting together ideas for exhibitions and looking to be involved with Vulgar Earth, a great group of artists. And I’m starting the build on my own studio – a year goes very quickly and being awarded a Graduate Studio at Fireworks has been a fantastic opportunity to grow and gain experience.

Sam Lucas

Work by Ceramicist Sam Lucas

Since graduating from the fabulous ceramics department at CSAD with a Masters I was lucky enough to win one of the graduate residencies at Fireworks clay studios. (I can’t believe we are half way through the one year residency already). This has been crucial to my progression, giving me space and support from incredible and skilled makers in a studio that is not only aesthetically pleasing but the atmosphere is buzzing and friendly.

After the initial settling in period I began to get into the swing of making again, retracing my steps and producing new work beyond academia. I spent the winter months planning what and where I would like to exhibit, drawing on ideas I had formulated on the MA. I chose and applied for a selection of different opportunities as an experiment to see where my work would fit; different opportunities, mainly abroad at first but with disappointing results, but then closer to home spurred on to apply for things that I had thought beyond my reach.

At last the successes appeared in my inbox, one after the other of positive responses. I realised then that planning was crucial as some of the opportunities were overlapping which resulted in the need to juggle time and do a lot of driving, which has eaten into my studio time.

First was the delight and surprise of being selected for Rising Stars 2019 at New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, Surrey. It’s a lovely gallery in the centre of the town giving emerging craft makers or those at a pivotal stage in their career the opportunity to exhibit to a wider audience.

Then New Designers one year in and a photoshoot, which saw me taking some work from the exhibition and racing through London in my little car as my work is too big and fragile to send by courier and then returning the work to the gallery a few days later (not advised!!).

Most recently, I have been selected for the first RWA (Royal west Academy) Bristol sculpture open for 20 years. As an emerging maker I feel very privileged to be exhibiting alongside eminent sculptors. The work is very diverse and innovative in many in different media. Being one of the 88 chosen from 1100 candidates has left me spinning…( I’m hoping it is because my work is worthy…. Not because I have friends in high places!).

I am also frantically making work for a show later in the year, which I am very excited about, but ssshhhh I can’t mention this yet!