Sophie Rushton: At school, Sophie had wanted to study graphics, but then half way through her ‘A’ levels, she decided to up sticks and go travelling to New Zealand and Australia. She had a wonderful time here and her artistic talents found a creative outlet when she discovered Paua shells. Paua is the Maori name for a large edible sea snail that has a beautiful iridescent blue/green inner shell. She learned how to make jewellery from these shells and successfully sold the pieces she made. From the Antipodes, she travelled back to Europe and onto Spain. Here, she lived for a while in a camper van and sold jewellery for a living. Travelling through Spain, she also found herself working at a Summer Camp for a couple of years, teaching English to students as a second language. In 2010, she enrolled on an Art Foundation course at Newcastle College, before embarking on her Glass and Ceramics degree. She is interested in fashion and ceramics inspired by travel, and the interplay between nature and technology.
Charlotte Cooper: Charlie’s mum was keen for her to study for a career in health and social care, but Charlie had other ideas. From Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of The Potteries, she had wanted to study art since the age of about nine. Unbeknownst to mum, she rebelled and took art instead of the more academic course and followed this up with a BTEC National Diploma qualification at Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 2009. A proud achievement was to come within the top 1% of Staffordshire students for Art and Design. With the target of a new project every four weeks, she soon found herself interested in photography and ceramics, and soon decided to concentrate on the latter. After college, she decided apply for a place on the Glass and Ceramics degree course. She wrote a goodbye card to her family, packed a bag and headed for Sunderland. Inspired by artists like Henry Moore and Gordon Baldwin, she is now developing more sculptural pieces.
Stephanie da Silva: With dual Portuguese and English nationality, Steph admits to a flamboyant Latin side, alongside a more reserved British one. As a child, she studied classical ballet for nine years - then traded in her ballet shoes for a pair of Doc Martens and became a punk! At school, her best grades were in Art but, after leaving school, she opted to study precision engineering and CNC programming at college. Two years later, she decided this route probably wasn’t for her and started to look again towards a future in art. Interested in photography, she got involved through friends in with the National Film & TV school, doing some set design and stills photography for a film. By 2010, she had a portfolio of voluntary work, including experimenting with wood carving as a hobby. Then, in 2010, she decided on an Applied Art and Design course at Bournemouth, where she encountered metals, ceramics and glass, a material that excited her. When the Bournemouth course closed, she came to Sunderland to complete her degree.
Patrick Smith: Patrick has always enjoyed a number of sporting activities and feels he is very competitive. His more physical pursuits, when he was younger, included fencing, jujitsu, karate and mountaineering. At high school, he also got interested in the more sedate activity of ceramics, and a love affair with clay was started which he carried on into an art course at Newcastle University. He enjoys the practical aspects of pottery, for example hand-building pieces and trying different firing techniques, like wood-firing. He has found himself influenced by the systematic representation of patterns and forms, and by fractal images in nature. What he particularly likes is finding ways of getting the surface of the vessel to appear to be moving, through repetitive design. Patrick says he has a passion for teaching and wants to consider this as a career option in the future.
Jackie Metcalf: Born in South Africa in 1973, Jackie moved to the UK eleven years ago with a young family. She has six children in all, her eldest daughter now 21, and the youngest just 16 months. Her children are her focus, her mainstay and her inspiration. She is also inspired by her own childhood memories, and remembers growing up in South Africa with all the sights, sounds, traditions, flora and fauna of that country seared into her soul. Her father bred exotic birds and she has been used to handling them all her life. She also has vivid childhood memories of an encounter with a green mamba snake, whose influence later found its way into a piece of her artwork. She applied to do a psychology course, but became pregnant during her foundation year, so switched to art, which suited her family’s lifestyle better. Specialising in ceramics and stained glass, she loves the activity of ‘craft’ and wants to get people to view it in a different, more positive light, not just as a poor relation of art. She enjoys using a hands-on approach to make things, using textiles, quilting and beading in her work and has recently been working on an autobiographical piece, based on traditional Zulu beading and its meanings. Her axiom is “I aspire neither to be rich nor famous, but to be doing something I love.”