Alchemy: Air and Fire by Pauline Rignall & Claire Allam

by Cupola Gallery | Sheffield
Date of event: 08/06/24 - 06/07/24

A collaboration.  Air & Fire.  Two artists.  Two mediums. Painting and pottery combine to highlight the elemental forces that influence and, in the case of the pottery, create visual effects.  Light, colour, mood, atmosphere and form link both artists’ work. Cupola Gallery is delighted to host this collaborative exhibition.


Alchemy: Air and Fire – Pauline Rignall & Claire Allam

8 June – 6 July 2024

Opening Evening: Friday 7 June 7:30-9:30pm – Hospitality provided.  All welcome.

Cupola Gallery, 178a Middlewood Road, Sheffield S6 1TD

Opening times: Monday – Saturday 10-6pm

T: 0114 2852665



This joint exhibition comes from a 14 year friendship between the painter Pauline Rignall and the ceramicist Claire Allam. While starting from different points – the ethereal and atmospheric in Pauline’s paintings and the fire-won earthiness of Claire’s ceramics, each work compliments the other, forming a harmonious visual feast.


Pauline Rignall

Pauline's work is rooted in drawing and a love of paint. Translucency, mark making and rhythm are essential elements in her work. She may start with a few marks on the canvas and see what unfolds and reveals itself as the painting mirrors back the flux of emerging forms.  Atmosphere and sensation are her primary focus allowing the embodiment of light onto the canvas.

Turner, Matisse, Monet and Diebenkorn are significant influences in her work.

Claire Allam

Claire's work in this exhibition is based on themes of fertility, the female and circularity. She feels a close connection with the 'real' world, with nature and its seasons, and fragmentary glimpses or remembrances of these are often the starting point for her work.

Claire uses a range of techniques and clays to best express her subject. Included in this exhibition are larger, hand built sculptures in a heavy cranked clay, thrown works in stoneware clay with expressive calligraphic-style marks using oxides, and porcelain, both thrown and slip cast. Her choice of colour is informed by the English landscape: rich earth tones, sea greens, blues and black with splashes of brighter colour and copper red - the hallmark colour of reduction firing.

Claire's work is often based on simple geometric forms. Here, the spherical and circular shapes contribute to the motif of fullness and fecundity. This is in contrast to her elongated, elegant forms, often narrow in base.

The firing process is integral to the look of a finished ceramic piece. Claire combines electric kiln work with more traditional reduction firings using gas, or wood kilns and pit firing, the latter being her preferred methods. Ultimately, she views her ceramic art as a collaboration - a tango-like interaction between artist and clay and the raw, elemental force of the flame.

Work for sale.

“The combination of Pauline’s, emotive, atmospheric, light filled expressionist, landscape paintings balance, compliment and connect with the organic process derived marks and colours of Claire’s ceramic sculptures. A friendship and an artistic connection writ large in this collaborative exhibition.” Karen Sherwood, Director