Yurim Gough: Expressing Emotions And Experiences Through Life Drawing And Ceramics

Yurim Gough has a solo exhibition ‘VainEgo’ at APT Gallery until 29th May, supported by Arts Council England and curated by Lee Sharrock. Yurim talks to Lee about the process involved in creating her beautiful ceramics, and the emotional reaction of visitors to ‘VainEgo’.  She also gives some insight into her new ‘Gender Fluid’ series, which will be exhibited in ‘Esprits Libres’ at Fondation Bernardaud in Limoges, France, from June 2022 until April 2023.

Yurim Gough

Lee Sharrock: Your solo exhibition at APT Gallery has provoked some emotional reactions from visitors, and some have been moved to tears.  How does it feel to see people react in this way to your work?

Yurim Gough: I wasn’t expecting it, but I am not surprised. The ‘VainEgo’ exhibition is made from my experience of having breast cancer, it gives people the indirect experience by breaking down their emotions. It makes people face my egos and their egos too. No one is perfect, and it’s ok not to be perfect. 

Yurim Gough ‘VainEgo’ at APT Gallery Sunday 29th May 2022

When people come into the exhibition, singing bowls echo through the space, meeting me and my life stories which are told through the 20 bowls. People are moved by my stories and identify with the journey they tell. I have been true to myself which is what gives the show its power. Someone asked ‘How many exhibitors make people cry?’ I want to make people cry, ‘it’s ok to cry!’

VainEgo 20 (Marriage)

Lee Sharrock: You created the ceramics, drawings, paintings, video and photographs as a documentation of your journey from cancer diagnosis through treatment and recovery. During this journey, did you view the process of making art about this period of your life as a kind of therapy, or did you always have a vision of exhibiting all the work together in an exhibition?

108 VainEgo (Army of me)

Yurim Gough: I had a clear vision when I started the VainEgo project 6 years ago.

The APT gallery space is perfect for what I feverishly imagined; the high ceiling, pure white walls and expansive space. The art making process was very therapeutic. When I was a child, I always played like an actor, the best memories were by myself.  The ‘VainEgo’ project is like that; my mental playground in which I again enjoy my performances. 

Lee Sharrock: The ‘VainEgo’ exhibition is deeply personal and full of self-portraits in different formats.  Does it feel overwhelming to see so many Yurim’s exhibited together in a gallery space, or was it a cathartic experience? 

VainEgo 2 (Paper Dolls)

Yurim Gough: Very interesting question, because when I was installing the works, I felt exactly what you are asking. Looking at them, I realise it shows, 100’s of versions of me. They’re my egos and seeing all the individual Yurim’s on show is fascinating to me. Alan Watts said “The conception of our selves is as a skin -encapsulated ego.”

Yurim and Curator Lee Sharrock

Lee Sharrock: In June a major museum show opens in Limoges and features ceramic bowls from your gender fluid series.  Can you talk a bit about this new series?

Yurim Gough: The Gender Fluid series is very special. Four amazing none-binary models were the subjects for the ceramic bowls. For a long time I was fascinated by non-binary people because I sometimes see myself as genderless.  I am fascinated by their perspective and great tastes in fashion. I love creating something on a topic that people sometimes don’t want to talk about!

Lee Sharrock: Your technique of creating ceramic bowls and sculptures is very unique, drawing directly onto the ceramic, firing several times at different temperatures, and using transfers and thread.  Can you explain the process and how you developed it,or is it secret?!

Yurim Gough: No secret! In the field of science people share their discoveries in order to advance humanity. In art I don’t see why artists can’t share processes too!  My drawing style is unique and can be easily identified. Creating one bowl takes an entire month! It first requires 5 to 6 times firings.

Secondly, I draw models live, in front of me. I only use ceramic transfers to create the colourful images. These images are from pictures of the models and abstract paintings created on an iPad. Finally, I add threads, 3D printed parts, and gems. Go and look at my YouTube videos on my website, it explains how I process my work.

Lee Sharrock: What projects do you have coming up?

Yurim Gough: After the ‘VainEgo’ show I am going to Limoges, France, for a ceramic group exhibition preview on June 16th. The show is called ‘Esprits Libres’ and will be showing at fondation Bernardaud through to April 2023. I will be exhibiting 9 ceramic bowls with portraits of gender fluid models who have had a great influence on my work. In July I will have a 2 day workshop in my Cambridge studio; for life drawing on ceramics, specialising in techniques I have developed through my years of work. 

During the 3rd and 4th weekends of July, my studio will be open for the Cambridge open studios. And I have my first solo exhibition in my motherland – South Korea, from July 20th – August 9th at Gallery Teaum, Seoul. The Exhibition is called ‘Emotion Machine’. It will explore the representation of emotions through colour and the isolation that hugely affected people’s lives globally.


‘VainEgo’ is at APT Studios in London until Sunday 29th May 2022.  Opening hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12-5pm: https://www.aptstudios.org

©2022 Yurim Gough, Lee Sharrock