Staffs Graduate leaves her mark on Birmingham

Eryka Isaak art worksWherever you go in Birmingham you will never be far from the work of Staffs University graduate Eryka Isaak.

Eryka, who uses glass-forming techniques, has installations in Birmingham Register Office and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is currently working on a project with Aston Business School.

She has produced work for the interiors of three Birmingham city centre venues and her glass wall tiles have also graced the Presidential Suite of the Radisson SAS Hotel.

With pieces residing in the collections of The English Patient director Anthony Minghella and late playwright Dennis Potter, Eryka could be forgiven for resting on her laurels.

But she is more ambitious than ever and vividly recalls the early, difficult days when her housemates in Stoke lost patience with her persistent hammering and tinkering with materials.

Eryka had just completed her degree in Design at Staffordshire University when she started working full-time from her digs.

“I had a wonderful time at Staffordshire University. The course was a dream and I made lots of good friends. We would often eat together when we finished working,” she says.

“But my housemates soon got fed up of the smell of solder and me hammering away at metal at all hours.”

It was while studying in Stoke she discovered what she wanted to do creatively.

“It was the realisation that I could combine glass and metal,” she said.

“That was the real spark – it was a revelation.”

Her parents were unsure what to make of her artistic ambitions and her astrophysicist father George asked her how she would make money.

“I persuaded them to come to a show in London and they saw my work in context,” she says.

“Dad thought my work was good and realised there was a chance I would actually make it.”

Eryka was never tempted to take the safer path and pursue a career in business or science, despite taking A-levels in Chemistry and Biology.

“I always wanted to be an artist and there was never a point when I considered doing something else.”

Further exhibitions followed across the UK and internationally, but Eryka was quick to develop a business-like approach in tandem with her creativity.

“I would work on large pieces, but realised that I may have to wait a while to make a sale,” she said.

“So I always made sure I was producing work, even smaller pieces, to be more secure financially.”

In 2000 Eryka set up her workshop at her home close to King’s Heath high street.

“It was no longer like work,” she said.

“I didn’t feel I had a job, because I was so in love with what I was doing. If I wasn’t being paid I would still be doing this.”

In recent months Eryka has exhibited at 100 Per Cent Glass in The Mailbox, completed a private commission for a London client and worked on interior design projects in Birmingham’s booming nightlife quarter.

She is particularly proud of her glass installation ‘Migration’ which is sited in the QE’s Haematology Centre.

The installation is three metres long and consists of thirty 70cm long curved pieces of glass.

“I had a meeting with all the staff to discuss the project and they were really positive,” she says.

In 2005 Eryka produced a series of wall tiles for Birmingham Register Office in Holliday Street.

Brides awaiting their big moment will have gazed into Eryka’s mirror while preparing to take their vows.

She is passionate about the need for architecture and interior design to shape and influence our environment.

“Everyone gets married in a register office so it’s important to have a special and unique environment,” she said.

Eryka also produced heart shapes set in glass to be presented to the first 50 couples to be married at the new premises.

She is excited about the Midlands’ growing nightlife and culture and seized on the chance to work on the interior of The Vaults in Birmingham.

“It’s a real buzz to have my work in an environment where lots of people can appreciate it,” she says.

“People may enjoy work in a bar or club who may not visit an art gallery.”

She is also involved in neighbourhood and school projects in Stoke.

Visit erykaisaak for further information.