Rye’s Award Winning Artist

From Ukraine to UK Award Winning Artist Makes Rye Her Inspiration,

Yulia Podolska has come a long way since her childhood in the former Soviet Union. Only six months after arriving in the UK, the 25 year old sculptor has been awarded the Bronze Age (Young) Sculptor Award at the Society of Women Artists’ 149th annual Summer Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London, which showcases an accomplished and eclectic mix of artwork in all media.

Receiving her award from Princess Michael of Kent, Podolska says ‘As this was the first time I had submitted work to an exhibition in the UK I was shocked to hear that I had won, but it feels just amazing to have my work recognised in this way.” Having had three pieces selected, it was the figure ‘Pregnant Woman’ that wowed the judges for its quality of workmanship and empathy to the natural form. Podolska says “This beautiful stone actually needed very little doing to it, I just made subtle changes and embellishments to enhance its inherent beauty – the piece is very tactile too, everyone wants to touch and stroke her belly.”

Podolska arrived in the UK in December 2009, drawn by the British contemporary art scene and determined to make her mark in this country. Now her artistic home is the School Creative Centre in Rye, where the unique landscape and environment are already influencing her work.

Currently busy preparing for an exhibition in the Rye Art Gallery’s Easton Rooms, Podolska’s most recent pieces include a series of small abstract works in bronze and natural materials found in the environment, and a series of busts and figures based on natural forms found in the beach stones of the Purbeck outcrops on the south coast. “I spend hours searching for the right piece of wood or stone, something that I think looks beautiful in its raw state.”

Podolska was born in Kiev in 1984, when Ukraine was still part of the USSR. Her family were Soviet sportsmen – her mother a rhythmic gymnast and her father a biathlete. Even her grandfather, a colonel in the KGB, was once an Estonian weightlifting champion.

Despite acquiring strong gymnastic skills, rather than pursuing a sporting career the 14-year-old Podolska became fascinated with art following a trip to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and took up drawing during a subsequent spell in bed with flu.

A friend of her father saw the drawings she had made, and was so impressed that he took the young artist to the Kiev Academy of Fine Art where, at the age of 16, with no previous training, she was offered a place at one of the most prestigious art teaching institutions in Ukraine (of the former soviet union).

“Rye’s Own” August 2010