International Postcard Show:: International Artist Interview



Introduce yourself and your art.

I’m an illustrator, specialised in engraving and I my predilection is for lino-cutting when I have to create illustrations for books or posters.


Where/How did you develop the idea for your postcard?  What was your intention for your postcard?

 This idea of a an hot-air balloon flying in the sky came first for a book cover for « Cinq semaines en ballon’, the Jules Verne’s novel, and I made a large linocut print for it. When I saw the poster of the Surface Gallery calling for artists, I thought immediately of travels all around the world, and I wanted, by creating a postcard for it, to invite people to a « rêverie » . That’s why I choosed the hot-air balloon, as an unusual way for travelling, and a poetic one. I made a very small lino plate then to create this postcard, which I printed in traditional ways.


Is this your first exhibition and if yes, how do you feel about it?

It isn’t my first exhibition, but I feel very happy about it! I usually work in larger format than postcard, but this experience for Surface Gallery introduced me to it and I like it very much. The ones I created since are not really in connection to today’s world. I prefer the relation with books traditions, as Ex Libris for instance.


What artists inspire you?

Félix Vallotton, Daumier, Grandville, Doré as engravers, but I’m very much inspired by old movies for composition and contrasts between black and white, and my ideas often come from literature more than other painters or engravers.


What research do you do for your art works?

I sketch a lot, and read, read, read.


Do you have a creative routine/pattern?

I often sketch and draw when I’m in common transports, but without searching for anything in particular. Then, I feel I’ve got an image in my mind but I know I have to wait till it comes from itself. Music often helps it to do so, and then I make the drawing I’ll use to create the plate. This part takes hours, listening to music or enjoying silence. When the plate is ready, I prepare the studio for printing, which is a part I love too, especially when the first print reveal if the plate is good.


What are you trying to communicate with your postcard?

In my postcards, as in larger formats, I try to open the spectator to his own imagination by sharing mine, and to let him/her free to imagine a story or to be contemplative.

Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)





International Postcard Show: Artist Interview



Introduce yourself and your art.

I am a multi disciplinary visual artist based out of Vancouver, Canada but originally from South America. My work encompasses self motivated research into art history and the history of extinctions, specifically the extinctions of birds. And of course the present day discourse of environmental and political issues that pertain to my own backyard, the north west coast of north America.


Where/How did you develop the idea for your postcard?

The idea for the postcard this year comes from an ongoing series of work in my studio. It has in mind questions and concerns about the state of the oceans, climate change and design aspects.


What was your intention for your postcard?

The postcard sent is part of my ongoing Apocalypse Now series which varies in size. The intention in this postcard is to point out one idea or one concept, to focus and streamline a thought process.


 Is this your first exhibition and if yes, how do you feel about it?

This is my 3rd year submitting postcards to this show, I have been exhibiting in Canada and abroad for approx 25 years.


What was it about the subject/content of your postcard that enticed you?

I have been experimenting with more graphic visuals as oppose to expressionistic approaches to my work to convey a cleaner and at times more ambiguous conceptual message.


Does your postcard have any connection to today’s world?

Yes, this postcard is my very much about today’s world and all its trouble and beauty at the same time.


What artists inspire you?

Francis Bacon, Demian Flores, Bill Reid, Diego Rivera, Bosch, Picasso, Brigitte Riley, Brian Yungen, the list is actually uncountable. I would like to think that there is something in most art works that can be inspiring and that I can learn from. The courage and perseverance it takes to produce and finish an art work is inspiring in itself.


What research do you do for your art works?

Museums and libraries are my weakness, my favorite things are to leaf through large pictorial books and view historical and biographical artist documentaries.


Do you have a creative routine/pattern?

My goal is to spend at least 4  hours and up to 12 hours in the studio as many days of the week as possible, painting or researching or studying a subject or artists work.


What are you trying to communicate with your postcard?

This postcard in particular is playing with visual concepts and graphic representation. Maybe I am trying to make sure everyone knows that there are still killer whales out there and that there is still hope.


Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

Apocalypse Now #4 After A Killer Whale

Apocalypse Now #4 After A Killer Whale

International Postcard Show:: Artist Interview

ARTIST:: Jake Francis


What was the intention for your postcard?

To terrorise, then humour, then mourn, then move on, then think about joining one of those dating sites with the free trial.

Where/How did you develop the idea for your postcard?

The idea came from the unfortunate truths of today’s national media and the manipulation within it. In each map, the perceived ‘priorities’ of that country are exacerbated and visualised - depicting the fickle and jaded output of our so called ‘informers’.

Introduce yourself and your art.

My art is the visual embodiment of the phrase ‘nice try’ - it is very much the weak air freshener to my inadequacy - the bog brush to my skidmarks.

Does your postcard have any connection to today’s world?

Unfortunately, yes.

What artists inspire you?

I take much of my inspiration from comedians and authors - writers like Chris Morris and Ryan Holiday have a way of recording the horrors of our modern culture without stagnation and dilution. We should know the disgraces of our media, but not without a rightful giggle.

Do you have a creative routine/pattern?

My ideas come to fruition around 10 am each morning - ironically the same time I have a bowel movement.  

Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

Priorities: ISIS

Priorities: ISIS

International Postcard Show: Set Up

We're nearly ready.

Here at Surface Gallery we are buzzing away painting, sweeping, mopping, curating, folding, hammering, nailing, sanding, typing, photographing, organising and, of course, drinking copious amounts of tea in order to get the International Postcard Show all set up and ready to go for opening night which is this Friday 13th at 6pm.

The International Postcard Show 2017 features over 460 unique pieces of art from artists all over the world. From over the road in Sneinton, Nottingham to the other side of the planet in Western Australia to just over the channel in the Netherlands. 

Opening night will be an opportunity to grab a beer or a glass of wine, chat with artists and other locals whilst perusing these fabulous mini-masterpieces. Some of these mini-masterpieces are for sale and would make fantastic gifts or the start of a budding art collection!

We look forward to seeing you!


A tweet treat

A tweet treat

Beginning to curate the postcards

Beginning to curate the postcards

Applying the finishing touches

Applying the finishing touches

Getting all those shelves up.

Getting all those shelves up.

Rows upon rows of mini-masterpieces.

Rows upon rows of mini-masterpieces.

Written by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

International Postcard Show Press Release

International Postcard Show 2017

January 14th – February 11th

Opening Night : Friday 13th January, 18.00-21.00


Surface Gallery is excited to welcome back the International Postcard Show. This vibrant, long-running exhibition is a highly popular feature of our calendar, and includes hundreds of original artworks from established and aspiring artists from all over the world. All submissions are included, from painting and print through to textiles and illustration, creating a wonderfully eclectic mix of artwork.

Last year the International Postcard Show saw record submissions. “500 funny, pretty, political, surreal and rude examples of postcard-sized artworks’’ noted the Nottingham Post of last year’s show. ‘’The 'international' tag attached to the exhibition is deserved, entries have come in from as far afield as Dubai, the USA, Canada and Hong Kong.’’ 2017 looks set to be our largest Postcard Show to date with submissions coming in from far and wide.

All artwork is priced at £15, so this is a fantastic opportunity for visitors and aspiring art collectors to snap up an original work of art at an affordable price.

All participating artists will have the opportunity to exchange their postcard with another artist selected at random at the end of the exhibition. We hope that this exchange will help foster new connections and encourage communication among artists from diverse backgrounds and from different parts of the world.

A panel of Surface Gallery judges will select three prize winners. The prizes include a £50 first prize, a piece of Keishi Jewellery as second prize, and a Creative Quarter goodie bag for Best Local Artist. The People’s Prize is chosen by our visitors who will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite artwork. The People’s Prize will be an exhibition in the Surface Gallery’s alternative artspace, Le Loovre.

Deadline for submissions: 6pm, Friday 6th January 2017

During the exhibition, Paul Henegan and Chiara Dellerba will be delivering a print-making workshop, where participants will be able to make their own postcard. The workshop will take place on Saturday 21st January, and will cost £17.50 including materials. On Saturday 28th January, Maggie Smith will be running a textiles workshop from 11am-2pm where you can learn how to use natural dyes on fabrics. The workshop will cost £30, materials are included.

The International Postcard Show 2017 opens in the Main Gallery in conjunction with Emerge:

University of Lincoln Fine Art Exhibition, which will take place in the Project Space. As always,

there will be a donations bar with ales from local brewery, Springhead.


Opening Hours:

Opening: Friday 13th January, 18:00 - 21:00

Exhibition Dates: 14th January - 11th February

Tuesday to Friday: 12:00 to 18:00

Saturday: 11:00 to 17:00


16 Southwell Road, Nottingham, NG1 1DL


Twitter: @surfacegallery

Instagram: @surfacegallery



Re:Surface : Interview with the artist



What inspires you to create and does your work reflect this?

Nature normally inspires me to create my work, as I mostly draw animals and plants. I think my work definitely does reflect this however I'd like to broaden what I normally draw!


What medium do you primarily work

 I use fine liners of various sizes for my work.


 How do you work/create?

I create small, detailed illustrations in a pointillist style, or sometimes linework - almost like tattoo designs. I like to use small strokes or marks to create an overall much larger, detailed piece.

What do you like about your work?

I really like how detailed my work can be for someone who can be very, very impatient!

What do you see for you in the future?

In the future I'd love to be able to be a freelance illustrator selling my work and commissions part time, while working in the graphic design industry - however I'm not sure which field yet!


Explain what you do in 100 words

My piece(s) at Re:Surface are a collection of my favourite drawings I've done over the past year or so, showing the style I like to work in and what I sell on Etsy.




Photo Credit: Sam Lindley

Photo Credit: Sam Lindley

Re:Surface : Interview with the artist



What inspires you to create and does your work reflect this?

My paintings come from my love of music and the heroes and icons I hold dear to my heart.


How do you work/create?

I have two areas of work - acrylic and collage icon paintings and biro/correction fluid scribbles


Explain what you do in 100 words.

I paint my portraits on A3 card, mostly in black and white and then collage them against a 16x20" art board with brown paper frame. After this I give the artboard a distressed effect with acrylic paint. I also distress the brown paper frame either with water and paint and then tear in to the frame or simply distress it with black acrylic paint depending on the musical artist and their life. I like to give each one a separate colour background that I feel represents them in some way also. I guess this is just a form of double framing and image.


What do you like about your work?

I like how my paintings are not just simply straight portraits - each one has it's own personality and double framing to bring it to life. This is something I don't plan for and although the black and white portrait itself is highly planned and measured the background and frame is very much an organic process.


What do you see for you in the future?

I think probably more of the same to be honest. I'm only really a hobby painter but love the work I produce. I always paint with the thought in mind that if I don't sell the pieces I produce I'm more than happy to hang them in my own home! My work also gets me some commission work too which is really a boost for my enthusiasm in creating work.


A few words about your piece at Re:Surface.


My seven pieces at Re:Surface represent the past six months of my life and work but my favourite being "Silent Sense of Content" the Amy Winehouse portrait - this piece was to commemorate five years since her death on the 23rd July. I wrote lyrics from my favourite song of hers around the outside and slightly changed some of the words to make it more personal to me. Amy Winehouse is someone I had the pleasure to meet many years back and I feel it is the most important piece in my collection as my own personal tribute.



photo: Sam Lindley

photo: Sam Lindley

Re:Surface : Interview with the Artist



What medium do you primarily work with and how did you get into it?

I work with all different types of yarn, alpaca, wool, cotton, acrylic - I like to experiment to see how the material affects the finished product in terms of density, fluidity, colour, size and texture. I constantly switch back and forth between crochet and knitting. It depends on what I am creating whether I crochet it or whether I knit it. 

I've always wanted to create but I was useless at drawing and painting - the traditional arts -and then during my second year I picked up a crochet hook sat in front of youtube and voila. I realised that I could express my creativity through the medium of yarn and I have never looked back.   

What will you be exhibiting at Re:Surface?

I am exhibiting two pieces in Re:Surface. One is an experimental crochet canvas adorned with brightly coloured flowers and quirky shapes. The other is a tubular knitted scarf that features patterns that I've used from around the internet and ones that I have designed myself. I started knitting this scarf in November 2015 whilst I was travelling in Romania. I wanted something to keep me busy on long coach rides or nights in at the hostel. I knitted throughout Romania, Bratislava, Vienna, Germany and Amsterdam and I'm still knitting it today. I don't think I want to finish. Ill just keep adding to it year after year letting it grow row by knitted row.  

What inspires you to create? 

I'm inspired by everything and anything - by colours in a sunset,  a conversation with a friend, a piece of art, an instagram post, a story. I'll note it down for future use. Sometimes I'm simply inspired by an emptiness that I want to fill, a space on my wall or a product that doesn't exist. Then I like to spend time sketching and designing to see how I could create something to fill that space.


What do you see for you in the future?

Over the next year I'm looking to develop myself and my work further by creating more pieces, functional and artistic. Developing my crochet and knitting skills by learning new and more complex techniques. I'd like to begin to work on larger 3D pieces and some items of clothing.

Keep In Touch

Instagram: dominiquekmitchell

Photo Credit: Sam Lindley

Photo Credit: Sam Lindley

Re:Surface : Interview with the Artist

Artist: Phoebe Joy


What inspires you to create and does your work reflect this?

Whilst at university I came across the Blaschka's, a nineteenth century father and son duo who created replicas of flowers and sea creatures using glass. I was particularly taken by the models of microscopic sea creatures which are intricately detailed. Although I don't aim to create any particular specimen in particular, I create pieces that have a lot of fine and decorative detail in them.


How do you work/create?

I use a propane and oxygen torch flame to melt glass rods which I then apply to a glass or metal rod to create my designs. Each individual dot of glass has to be applied one at a time making every piece unique.


What do you like about your work?

Lampworking is a very relaxing craft, as you have to focus only on the twirling glass in front of you.


A few words about your piece at Re:Surface.

Some of my most delicate work, samples of microscopic sea creatures taken from larger models and framed to be displayed like museum artefacts.

Keep In Touch:




Facebook page: phoebe joy-lampwork glass maker

Instagram: phoebe_joy_lampwork

Video of me making:


photo: Sam Lindley

photo: Sam Lindley

Re:Surface: Interview with the Artist


Artist: Emily Geyerhosz


What inspires you to create and does your work reflect this?

With writing, I get inspired a lot by music, film, TV and books. I can be inspired by certain characters and certain exchanges between them and I can get inspired by sights or settings I may come across, which is what my piece is about. I was in awe of the weather one day on an annual family trip to the coast. The town, Whitby, is a place I’ve always come back to, since I was a child. The sea, the abbey, the pier, the cobbled streets have always been one of the settings I’ve been interested in. I’ve always been keen to take photos too, and this one day I took one that stood out from the rest and just became a representation of the beautiful day I’d had. I seem to rotate to these descriptions of coastal towns, and old towns with narrow cobbled streets. I really like to describe these settings as vividly as I can.

How do you work/create?

I mostly end up writing when I’m not supposed to, like when I need to be studying. I come up with ideas usually when I’m travelling or walking whilst listening to music and I then try to write about certain images or extracts of a scene I’ve thought up and form backgrounds or plots later on. But, generally, I generally don’t really have a plan with how I write, though it can depend on what I’m writing. I like to sit down with a notepad and pen or my laptop and write for a while and then read back over it.

What do you like about your work?

I like that it is a physical copy of what I’ve been thinking about and I like translating thoughts into words. It can be difficult to not attack your work because of your inner critic, and it can also be hard to keep on rewording, cutting and changing and sometimes scrapping your ideas, but getting through that is very rewarding. Writing is a really good creative outlet, which is probably why I do end up writing when I’m supposed to be studying because it’s hard to absorb facts or information all the time as a creative person.

With the photography side of it, I have always liked the idea of being able to take a physical copy of something ephemeral- that cliche idea of capturing something forever is quite inspiring. There isn’t any skill behind the photos that I take at all, I just like the idea of photo albums and flicking through memories some of which encourage me to write.

What do you see for you in the future?

I’d love just to be able to write more in the future, either towards a big project like a novel or even smaller things like a creative journal or something that I would write everyday. Finding time to read and write for entertainment is hard now as a student as you always think you need to be getting on with uni work when you’re engaging your brain creatively instead of passively watching TV as a form of taking a break from studying. I’ve also always wanted to write and publish a book and keep up with a blog, and hopefully I will when things settle down.

A few words about your piece at Re:Surface.

I wanted to recreate the image of the Whitby Bay pier in words as it was a remarkable sight and a piece of photography I’m proud of. The photograph was taken around two years ago. I wanted to mash together my love of writing and my hobby of photography. What I hoped people would take from the piece was the idea of how writers can paint a picture, to rather capture a picture using words, which is something I find really intriguing with writing creatively. The aim was that people would read the description and then see if the photography matched up to the image painted in their head. I used pages of a book to cover to the box I’d placed the photography in to go with the idea of words mixing up with images and the conflict I can experience in my head with lots of different words and descriptions colliding together to try and describe something.



Miklós Ladányi-Tóth: Transpattern

Miklós Ladányi-Tóth is such an interesting artist- his art infuses symbols of emigration and travel with thought-provoking elements of the current political climate in Hungary, a topic close to his heart. In our interview, we discuss Miklós’ inspiration, what he hopes to teach people and how art engages with politics.

What do you hope people who come to see your art will learn or feel?

This is a very important topic for me, because of my current personal situation. I started this series in Hungary and I continued it here in the UK- I feel I could [teach] something about this [Hungarian] political situation to the people living here. [I hope] they can understand this with the help of background information. I tried to make them feel the political situation [as if it were closer to home] with the elements of visual communication.

You decided to base your exhibition on the political situation in Hungary- why do you think art is good for engaging with politics?

There are numerous functions of art, the most well known being a decorative function, but [ also] as a communication tool, suitable for [different] methods of expressing opinion. We can give so many examples [of] art filled with political meaning; you can think about the exhibition about the artworks of the formal Yugoslavian artists from the Tito era, which was held this Spring at the Nottingham Contemporary.


Why did you decide to use elements of folk-tale in your exhibition?

This is the result of a long process. In previous years I was inspired by the patterns and elements of material objects of the recent past. Therefore, [the exhibition] automatically resulted from the tools of the patterns and the ornaments. I have always been interested in the contrast between the severe, contemporary topics and the construction of a nicely-done craftwork, or rather the dissonance and the sour irony of it.


What was your favourite piece to compose for this exhibition and why?

Among the artworks I created for the exhibition, the ‘suitcases’ are the newest ones. The most exciting moments during the installation of these dysfunctional objects were the play with the lights. That’s why these are my favourite ones, but I can see further opportunities in all of my work.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

The planning and describing of [my] creative ideas and the execution of them, so more or less, the whole process.

What inspires you to create art?

I really cannot give a proper answer. I simply work with inspiration, and I keep thinking about new ideas and realisations.

What advice would you give to young artists?

[To] give everything to their work and believe in themselves.

Written by Emily Geyerhosz for Surface Gallery

Images provided by Surface Gallery

Transpattern: A Reading by Rezső Jarmalov

During the opening for Miklós Ladányi-Tóth's exhibition, Transpattern, we were fortunate to hear a reading by Rezso Jarmalov. The reading was from a text that was specially written for the occasion by art historian, Professor Tamas Aknai. For those of you that where otherwise occupied with EM16: Pulse in the main gallery, and didn't quite make the long journey up to our third-floor Project Space in time for the reading, and for those that didn't attend the opening, but wish you had, we have decided to make Professor Aknai's text available here. For those of you that did hear the reading, it's worth revisiting.


The genesis of or otherwise the absence of experiences principally determines our senses related to our apprehended, encountered or contemplated realities. There are people who say that observation is the grounds of everything. However, expressing these experiences is a lot more serious action to do, and so is seeking the position and formation of experiences among our manifestations that can be communicated as messages. Turning more convoluted logical and conceptual speculations into illustrated forms has been the artists’ task up to now, succinctly and acutely, in an instance, as an efficacious source of experiences. Miklós Ladányi-Tóth is the doctor of arts. As an expert, he is capable of performing analysis and of contemplating things and making reasonable decisions; he is the least satisfied by the preclusive consideration of incentives springing from the guts. The two major pillars of his exhibitions are the act of leaving and of drifting apart, and venues colored by civilization, and the experience of cultural swap intertwined with moral motifs, as well as finding and selecting visual signs and methods of formation of personal genuine efficient for convoluted understandings described just above, and their arrangement into tangible values. He also composed writings that chronicle this exhibition itself, a multi-storey and functionally layered structure resting on two pillars. For the sake of perfection, temper and spirit, to which experiences root, must also be referred to. Whenever doing so, our message will inevitably entail some political implications. Namely, this exhibition is not only an enterprise to convey the aesthetics of recognitions concerning independent visual forms, but also to focus on the most relevant matters of Miklós Ladányi-Tóth’s personal life, including his option to have a family, and moving to the UK with his wife and getting a job there, including that, by becoming part of social processes typical of the globe, their most sensitive problem is now migration of critical importance that concerns everyone these days. Changes occurring in existence: Miklós Ladányi-Tóth’s works performed in the most recent years have become distantly retrospective tokens in this respect most interestingly. Objects that of course evolve into artistic creations wear the gowns of poetic narrative. Punctured, old suitcases lit from the inside; punctured and ragged maps: objects used for the purpose of orientation and the mobilization of personal belongings. Being punctured, their aesthetic function is highlighted primarily, and furthermore they impart the symbolic communiqué of the disposal of consistency. Maps of Hungry that remind us of football pitches refer to the feverous wave of football stadium construction projects of megalomaniac nature according to Miklós Ladányi-Tóth’s concept. As to the pattern of these maps, he conceptualized iconographical data from the logos of political parties that have been elected to the Hungarian Parliament since the profound political changes in 1989. He would never deny that the baseline of his exhibition narrates the current political situation in Hungary, more specifically the perplexing cases of taking up careers abroad that count hundreds of thousands today. This, on the one hand, is compelling and, on the other hand, liberating to him as well. In his writings, Miklós Ladányi-Tóth unambiguously undertakes the direct forms of political debate and he sets his razor-sharp points of view, many of which contributed to their migration to the UK. He creates “not by the aid of documents, photographs or archives, but rather of patterns (laces, embroidery) that visually recall the elements of fairy tales …” Wooing intellectuals who cannot be connected to the fate of the country and nation in a way that would be satisfactory to them on the other side (and I am writing this on “the other side”) and have been released as the symbolization of the European ideology of freedom is the unconditional boon of the receiving society. Here, i.e. in Hungary, one is not able to judge whether particular interest that operates such decisions has ever been satisfactory, or uncompromising, and if yes, in what way. Anyhow, Miklós Ladányi-Tóth exerts efforts to propagate “his Hungarian qualities” toward the British frame of mind in a brand new intellectual milieu and in the “consuming market” of artistic visual conventions that are progressive and mysterious in a different way, not to mention their character that is also different from ours. The darkening of critical nature connected with the texture of retrospect has become an unconditionally accompanying motif of this artistic operation. By the entry of political motifs, this has become inevitable, because change itself would partly become unintelligible, if the attractive and rainbow-like jewels remain to exist. It is interesting to see how radical transfers of meaning take place in the case of Ladányi-Tóth’s particular creations which a few years ago would have been judged as warning symbols close enough to the threshold of shoddiness. It is impossible to judge from here, i.e. Hungary, what ratio of the commixture of the similar (“part of that”) and “other” (“not part of that”) is necessary for acceptance under the circumstances of the British visual culture. As his fellow artists, we can only wish that the conscious transformation of Hungarian genuine will be successful and that the universal values in Ladányi-Tóth’s pieces will be good enough to arouse and to reserve British interest.

Tamás Aknai

EM:16 Uta Feinstein

Uta's art is very focused, very skilled and very human. As we discuss how her art speaks of order and chaos, how good and bad bleed into one, I find myself at home in her work, as I think many will. Uta herself seems born to paint, her love for the craft shines through and her knowledge is extensive.

Have you felt much of a difference creating for a 'graduate show' as opposed to creating as a student?

Working independently on my own project feels similar to the student experience at the University of Nottingham, but a bit less directed and without assessment pressure. The time frame seems much tighter and challenging as I use the medium of paint which is a fairly slow process. This allows less time for experimentation or creating a final piece and can be a problem if things go wrong and paint has to dry before you can continue. We got an insight into a different studio environment and gallery situation. It helps confidence and that there are people out there interested in your work after graduation.

With the group name Pulse, how do you relate it to your work?

In my current project work the regular pulse and rhythm of the grid merges with the irregular flow of the net, they become intertwined - the regular and irregular aspects, in various states of tension. Or sudden external pulse disrupts the predictable, flowing rhythm.  The grid’s geometric structure and the less predictable line or melody-like flow of the net. I am interested in the building up of suspense between random, free flow, the net, and structure, predictability, the grid. Creating this rhythmic exchange between opposing elements and their suspension in a tempo­rary, precarious balance. There is a joint rhythm, underlying structure, but simultaneously it becomes disrupted by free flow and fragmentation and elements of mutual exchange or even inversion. This also questions simple dualistic juxtaposition, as the net is just a distorted grid. But in their elementary states, they have different physical and metaphorical qualities, they become opposites in many respects. However, they can transform into each other - their ambiguity is intriguing.

'Side Impact' (2016) Installation View.

'Side Impact' (2016) Installation View.

Tell us about your primary medium of painting and what got you into it?

I always enjoyed painting from childhood, we did a lot of pavement drawing with stones, clay. In the 70’s, finger paint was something new and in Germany lots of people have cellars so we had this window and we were allowed to finger paint against it and I always loved that. It was there for years. Painting has been always natural to me, I explored different mediums but I came back to painting. I love the whole history of it, the naturality of paint, just this pigment and you create something out of it.

And how did you get into using things like nets and grids in painting?

We all know practical uses of nets or grids and their metaphorical potential like interconnectedness, social nets… I confronted the geometric grid with the reality of its imperfect, distorted, organic ‘derivative’, the net, that diverges from the grid’s angular logic. I question ideals confronted with reality and its imperfections. I try to get people to question perception, ideals, illusion against reality. I explore forces pulling in different directions with tension and release reflecting various states of being. The scientifically–minded viewer may think of space distortion, dimensions, gravity, communication between distant particles, their effect on each other. Others will relate it to their own life experience, to inner /outer conflicts, dualities, emotive tensions and struggles.

Tell us a little about your project, what we’re going to see on Opening Night

I will show a couple of paintings, with some elements stepping outside the traditional canvas frame format. The inclusion of more tangible elements in surrounding space makes the works more physical. The images of flat squares suddenly becoming real, tangible 3D objects. I try to engage the viewer through a sense of tension between image and actual object. Wandering/floating squares move in indistinct space, but in an irregular, unpredictable way. I want to trigger an emotive, intellectual, physical response in the viewer; to relate the image to their own experience – what is out-of-rhythm here? What could it mean? Challenge expectation, perception – something unexpected happens; about uncertainties, tensions between antagonistic forces, physical and metaphorical – life events - conflicting emotions or desires.

I hope that my work can convey the sense of tension and uncertainty,  of being out-of-rhythm and viewers bringing their their own experiences. Personal tension, interrupted rhythm of life. My grid lines may look straight from far but show imperfections/inconsistencies from up close. This reveals actual physical tension - small interruptions to seemingly smooth lines, it is more about the concept of a grid than a literal, perfect version of it. Relating to the pulse of life, most situations are not ideal, we are not always in control of our situation, things happen.

Side Impact (2016) Angle View

Side Impact (2016) Angle View

What do you want to get out of the residency?

The residential offered me a chance to bridge the gap between graduation and professional practice, to meet other graduates and gain an insight into a local gallery and the supportive network there. What I also found appealing was the chance of having group crits and a ono-to-one session with a local artist and have access to the gallery’s light-flooded, spacious project space. It enabled me to discuss my work, ideas and incorporate issues arising from critical feedback and discussions into my paintings. The chance for a final show, to share the residency work with the public and interaction with the community in a workshop is exciting – to get feedback or have discussions, get to know new people interested in art.

How are you finding sharing a space?

We had to share limited space as students, so I am used to sharing space and not expanding too much. It’s a large, well-lit space and everyone arranged themselves with fellow graduates to share the space for larger displays. It was unproblematic and [we] enjoyed each other’s company and exchange of ideas or feedback. Having regularly shared space and worked alongside other students over the last years, it can help to make you feel less isolated than working at home on your own all the time. The practice after graduation can feel quite isolating - unless you can afford a studio space or your work gets accepted for lots of open exhibition etc.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images courtesy of

EM:16 Dave Dent

Dave Dent is not where art meets science because he doesn't seem them as opposing forces to be joined, he sees them as seperate paths to the same destination. We discuss his intentions with art to reconcile faith and science, the differences in metals and ancient Egyptians. It was great.

Have you felt much of a difference creating for a ‘graduate show’ as opposed to creating as a student?

It is nice in some ways to be doing a project that isn’t assessed but I am actually doing an MA. This is part of the practical work for my MA so it is actually being assessed! I’m in a very odd position.

That is quite an odd one, one of the things most people have said so far, is they feel quite free being away from the assessment side of things. Do you think you’re missing that?

I’m trying as hard as possible to think of it as not being assessed. The fact it’s an MA I do have a lot more freedom and you build up a freedom through your degree so it’s an extension of that... But I can’t completely divorce myself from the fact [it is assessed].

Yes, I was naughty and asked if  I could touch them all

Yes, I was naughty and asked if  I could touch them all

What made you want to do an MA?

It took me a long time to start doing my art degree. Before I started my degree, my last formal art lesson was in 1973; I didn’t do, what was in those days, O-levels Art. I went into sciences and didn’t do any formal art from 13. I trained as a microbiologist. There’s an Einstein quote that says all religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree and I’ve always viewed that [they’re] an exploration of the same thing. It’s a way of trying to interpret and understand reality, or at least that’s how I see it. I suppose through art I am trying to reconcile my spiritual and scientific understanding into a coherent… (laughs) It’s not coherent by any means because it’s too complicated but I’m working on it. It’s a work in progress. But, going back to the original question of why I’m doing an MA, I have just loved the process. It’s been something that’s been with me for many years but having started formal training in it and education, I don’t want to stop.

That learning style must be quite different to a Science degree?

Yes, it is, but my approach to art is very systematic, very methodical in lots of ways. My degree piece, I actually planned, I mean, it was in May but I’d planned it from April the year before. I had the idea while I was putting up my end of second year piece and basically worked towards it. I mean with this, I decided pretty much before the residency what the outcome was going to be, it has changed a bit because it’s not on the wall anymore, but I have to order the glass so I have to decide how much glass, how many.

With the group name Pulse, do you relate it to your work at all?

I’m not sure it does but it also doesn’t jar with the work. To try and come up with a title for such a diverse range of work... Trying to come up with a title for our degree show, it didn’t quite break out into warfare (laughs) but we had a vote and in the end it was ‘Derby University 2016 Fine Art Show’. [Pulse is] a good title; it’s succinct. There’s suggestions of being contemporary and on the pulse so it works well on the title.

Tell us about how you got into this form of glass painting, with layering metals? It’s not necessarily what you expect if you hear glass painting

It started in my second year, we had to do a response to something in Derby Museum and Art Gallery and I picked Joseph Wright’s ‘The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus’. I did a piece based on alchemy, I basically produced three panels, the first panel represented lead, the third gold and then in the middle I did a philosophers stone which was actually a bronze panel. A scientist called Glenn Seaborg, used a particle accelerator to actually turn lead into gold. Only a few atoms but still, you could do it! Basically by firing protons into a nucleus and making it bigger. All three panels were square, and I coated bronze onto [the philosopher’s stone]. Then, there’s a thing called the feynman diagrams which represent the interaction between the particles for the reaction; I carved them into the surface of this bronze panel, of the transition from lead to gold, so that was my philosopher's stone. So that’s really what got me into coating metals onto glass and then I thought, there’s quite a long way I can go with this. I started playing with various other metals and materials; I got very interested in the concept of art as alchemy. Artists take basic materials and hopefully transform them into something that is valuable, something beautiful… Well I mean, beauty is an odd concept but, we take base things and transform them. Artists are alchemists.

So it flows back to what you said, art, science, spirituality, being from the same tree,

The earliest alchemy came from priests in ancient Egypt and the mummification of bodies; alchemy grew out of that, through the Middle Ages and again a close relationship between alchemy and priests. Then a lot of the experiments that alchemists did in the search for gold produced the particles that artists use. Eventually alchemy grew into modern day chemistry. I think because knowledge is so vast these days we have to break it down into understandable chunks but by doing that I think we lose the connection quite often. I think artists make connections and it’s about inviting viewers to make connections.

Tell us a little about your project, what we’re going to see on Opening Night?

There has to be something about the work, and I hope there is, that invites them to engage with it because if they don’t engage with it, on an aesthetic or a tactile level, they’re not going to think anymore about it. It’s got to be engaging in some way to invite the viewer to wonder, is it about something? If it is, what is it about? To engage with it as much or as little as they want to but there’s got to be something there, an access point of some form.

What do you want to get out of the residency?

Tthe experience, working with a different bunch of artists, exposing my work to a different audience and just sort of an opportunity to do some more exploration, mostly outside of university. (laughs) It’s a different challenge, a different way of working and I guess if I have future residencies I’ll be a bit more reckless and not plan so much before I go in, try and sort of break away from being too controlled.

How are you finding sharing a space with everyone?

It’s just great coming in and  you chat sometimes, you get on with your work and there’s been no sort of, artistic differences. It’s a big enough space, it’s a great studio space,

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

EM16: Pulse 4

The project space has begun to empty as our resident artists move their work downstairs and take over the main gallery space. There’s a monster in the middle of the room, black drapes dancing from the rigging and a lace table, that isn’t quite a table, by the stairs… It’s hard to believe that all this has been created in only four weeks. It's harder to believe we're almost at the end of those four weeks! Our artists have shown nothing but dedication and love for their work but it’s not just their exhibited work; they’ve done their own press release, designed their own catalogue and really taken every opportunity to make this their show. At Surface, it’s been a pleasure to watch their work grow and to help in whatever ways we could. I think they can also feel very safe in the knowledge they have some huge fans in all of us (especially me, I can never stop gushing after each interview how excited I am for opening night).  It comes back to what Jane and I talked about, Surface very quickly becomes your home and I think we quickly take in our artists are part of our Surface family.

So what’s next? Well, opening night is the 4th November 6-9pm and we would absolutely love to see everyone there. It’s a celebration of learning, a celebration of growth and just looking at some interesting art. Plus, we have some cracking local beers and I don’t think there’s a much more satisfying Friday night than wandering around Surface with a Roaring Meg. 

After that we have an artist talk and tour on the 12th November at 2pm where you can follow after the artists and ask everything you didn’t get to read in our interviews. You can engage with their work and question their motivations or you can find out their favourite flavour of crisps.

There’s a whole two weeks to explore and enjoy their art and then you can always keep up with them online

Tracey King - / Uta Feinstein /

  Jane Smith / Tayler Fisher

Connie Liebschner / Dave Dent

Miriam Bean miriambean.comEllysia Bugler

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

EM:16 Jane Smith

Jane doesn't sit during our interview so neither do I, she's got an energy you can't help but bounce off. You instantly feel at home, which makes it especially warming when she says she thinks Surface of a home from home as well. As she talks of communities being pulled down only to build themselves back up again and using negativity to build something positive, you do feel a little more chipper, a little stronger, a bit ready to do something.

Have you felt much of a difference creating for a ‘graduate show’ as opposed to creating as a student

I’ve just finished my Masters [and] I was by myself a lot of the time because I was the only person doing that particular MA. I had my own show and I was up in the metal workshops, down in the plaster workshops, then in the studios, all to myself, no one else around so it was really nice to come into the residency and have other people. It’s marvellous to go, ‘what do you think of this?’ These guys are great because they’re giving loads of input and that’s why my work has changed so much. I was interviewed for the project and I came up with this idea that I wanted to work around [Sneinton] market and have feedback from the people of the markets. I found this book, ‘A Walk Through Town’, so I started researching and it’s all stories from the markets, people from the market, and all the backgrounds and this area. There’s actually clay underneath [the market] and it used to be a brickwork. Well I’d started working on a little idea of my own of casting bricks with plaster hands inside because I work in fragmentation, the whole idea of wholeness and fragmentation, and I thought I could do something with that. I decided to make the bricks here; I decided if I’m going to be here in a residency, I’ve got to do it here. I’d rather be here making it.

With the name Pulse, how do you relate it?

We all sat down in the first meeting and came up with three words, mine were fragmentation and wholeness and body but then I was thinking I’m working with the idea of community and there’s a pulse in community. Pulse is absolutely ideal for me because the whole concept of my work is community all coming together and the hands that built that community, that are still building this community, because the fragments are still there. This market has been taken down a few times and built up a few times; that’s the idea of the wall, it’s not to keep people out, it’s to remind people it may be knocked down but it’ll always be rebuilt and there’s part of the people inside there.

When did you get into sculpting?

I came to Derby 27 years ago from Belfast, I’d done my foundation art at Ulster University and then I worked in the YMCA for a year doing art for them, designing logos, that kind of thing and then I came to Derby. My university tutor kept contacting me saying “there’s a new course starting at Derby, a HND in jewelry design, and I think you’d be perfect for it” so I came and did jewelry design and I was taught to be a jeweler. I did that, and when I finished, life happened, you have to get out there, get a job, so I got a job in a jewelry shop, became a manager of the jewelry shop, worked there for quite a few years. Then I had my little girl and I started working in a gym as a personal trainer, but the shifts were just… I didn’t see my family, I didn’t see my husband, I didn’t see my daughter, what’s that all about? Where’s your life going? So my husband said why don’t you go back to uni? Then I went to my Dr. and he said, ‘you need to change your job, this job is killing you, it’s getting you low, you just need to get out there, go back to uni.’ Everyone’s telling me to go back. So I went for a look around the Derby University degree show and I thought okay, bit different. Fine art, I thought paintings, you’ve got that thing in your head. I had a chat with Carl Robinson and he took my email and when I got home I had an email from him saying come in for an interview, come for a chat, so I went for a chat and by half seven that night I was in on the second year. I was like oh god, going back to uni then! I started in year 2 which was quite amazing because it was full on, head down, hit the ground running and for my degree show I won the Derbyshire foundation community award. I discussed with my tutors perhaps doing the MA and they had a little chat, yhup, we think you’d be ready to do the MA so the same day they said yeah, we’ll deal with the paperwork but you’re in. That was an experience because they’d never dealt with a 3-Dimensional artist before, it’s always been 2-Dimensional. They were going you’re a pioneer! It was a bit tough sometimes.

Were they really supportive or were there growing pains?

They were supportive, it was new for everybody. The tutors and me, we were in the same boat because obviously, they weren’t set up for this but y’know, we did it and it’s laid the basis for other people doing 3-dimensional work at Derby which is good. They did talk to me and say how can we fix this? how can we help other sculptors?

We’ve talked about it already, with this sense of community and building it up, but what should people expect from your work on opening night? Will your work continue to express community to the audience?

I like to think so, I worked at a residency in Derby Arboretum, with Artcore, last Summer and it was 175 years since the opening of the arboretum; they asked artists to put in proposals in so I put one in and I based mine around the fountain that’s in the middle and they took it on. That was community based, I was doing a lot of workshops, almost everyday. I was going into the park and kidnapping people because I was inviting them to draw on this massive 8 metres of material. They were drawing on it, doing tags on it, they could do anything, write in their own language, they could just stamp their hand. It was open to everybody. Then I ripped it all up into shreds and made a spiral out of copper and wrapped it round. I got asked, “when you wrapped it, did you have it set out how they were going to go?” and I was like “No, I mixed them all up,” they said “oh I love that”. That was the idea, communities are mixed up, we’re not all the same, we’re so diverse. There’s so many different elements that everybody is overlapping and that’s beautiful.

Is that where fragmentation comes into it, because that’s a word you mentioned earlier you relate to your work, but we’ve mainly talked about bringing things together?

I think I do, I think because of coming from Belfast; Belfast has the most lovely people you’ll ever meet in your life, beautiful people but the society is fractured. It’s such a beautiful country and such a beautiful place but the people are broken and although we kind of look at it from the outside, things are still happening there. My family all still live there but I live here and it’s something that sticks with you. I always think being born in 1966, you will always be known as a child of the troubles, because they started in 1969, and you carry that. I wouldn’t say it’s a cross, it’s not a stigma either, it used to be, but now I carry it more with a sense of pride. Yes I am a product of that but look where I am. That’s why I like getting into community things and getting amongst the people because I like to say look it doesn’t matter, what religion, what colour, what creed, it’s about community. It’s about you and that’s what makes the world stronger.

Why did you apply for this residency, was their something about Surface for you?

I think it’s something I like about Surface to be honest, it’s the diversity of Surface and it’s where it is. I think it’s sort of on the cusp of really getting somewhere and I think having something like Surface attached to your name is a big bonus to you. I’m dead proud, I think because you put so much into it, you put a bit of you into it. It’s your art, it’s such a personal and private thing and you’re laying yourself out there, laying yourself bare but… It’s okay because it’s warm and soft in here and it’s okay. It is like a home from home for art. It’s starting to really get up there, it’ll be nice to be up there.

How do you like sharing a space?

It’s marvelous, I love talking to people, and I can talk. Do you know what’s lovely as well? Seeing everyone’s work progress and change, it’s gone one way and then it’s gone another, that’s the beauty of a place like this.  And that’s good, that should be happening! As an artist, you never should stick to, I am making this and it’ll only be this way, if you’re doing that, what are you doing art for? You need that bit of risk. You need that element of surprise.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Image by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

EM:16 Tracey King

Tracey's work reminds me of Alice Through the Looking Glass; it seems to be one thing until you look a little closer and notice a skewed perspective, something a little off about a table and a delicate lace print you can only see if you're really looking. Tracey's work resonates on a variety of levels, having returned to the East Midlands from years living in Cornwall, she's trying to find that pulse here again. Many of us in Nottingham find that from the other side, waking up to realise Nottingham is home and the pulse isn't quite as strong where we grew up. We're just on different sides of the mirror.

Have you felt much of a difference creating for a ‘graduate show’ as opposed to creating as a student?

It’s less prescribed in a way, it’s a real mixture for me because obviously there’s new people in a group which is nice and it’s a bit like university because you’re bouncing off each other. It’s very familiar as well because I’m working next to Dave [Dent], we actually sat next to each other at uni, our spaces were adjacent!

So it’s almost like you’ve bought a bit of university with you?

Yeah, (laughs) I think the main difference is that you don’t have the workshop facilities at your fingertips because in the past I could go hmm, I’d like to do that in the porcelain slip and fire it. I perhaps would have done that with some of this work and although you could probably source that I’m kind of challenging myself to do what I can with the equipment available.

How do you think that’s impacted your work?

I’ve had this battle with myself in a way, some of it looks cruder maybe than I would normally do; just because of the different material I’m working in. I might have done something, like say, rather than soaking it in plaster I might have done it in porcelain, fired it and it looks finer and differently made. After the tutorial with Christine though, I’ve come to think actually this does say what I’m trying to say more. I’m trying to let go of the fact it’s crafted nicely. I’m seeing something different in the work. I’m quite excited about it now.

With the group name Pulse - how are you connecting to it?

It’s this pulsating city center. It’s busy, there’s life and yet, with my work there’s a lot of severed hands, without wrists; that’s the strongest part, where you feel your pulse, and it’s all cut off. It’s that sort of feeling I’m trying to get across, an unsettled feeling. This is my hometown, I used to live in the city center and be a part of everything but I feel a bit disconnected. I’m at a different part of my life and I’m doing something completely different. Because of body parts and wrists and almost a pulse that’s not there.

It’s that feeling that nowhere quite feels like home because I’ve lived away for a long time. I lived in Cornwall for quite a few years and had my children there and we’ve got very close friends there and we do go back. I feel as though that’s my home too but here still has family there and I’m kind of, at the minute, at that stage in my life where I’m trying to decide whether to stay.

When did you get into sculpting?

When I started uni, I’d never done sculpting. When I went to an open day and we were shown all the equipment… We were shown the welding bay and it excited me. I think that’s what it was, the welding bay and then when you first start you have little inductions to say woodworking, metal working and showing us all around the workshops and I don’t know, it quite excited me, casting was the thing. One of the first pieces I did was with a carnation and I cast it into bronze. I like that, it’s magical and that got me into sculpting.  You can make something that looks real, or is a normal everyday thing, but you can completely change it into something else. Present it in a different way.

This sense of feeling unsettled and a bit out of place, is that what you want your audience to experience on Opening Night?

I’d like them to see it and question it. I want them to look a bit closer to see the lace print you can’t see at first, see how the pieces react to each other. Hopefully they'll get this unsettled feeling. No one’s going to know how you feel, your history and why you’ve made it like this but there might be something… I try to use recognisable things, familiar objects and forms that anyone would know, you know, a hand, an egg or a glove but why’s it like this? Why does it make me feel like that? An emotive reaction I think, that’s what I always want to get.

What do you want to get out of this residency?

It’s that confidence really, because it’s quite hard working on your own without any feedback when you’re new, isn’t it? To suddenly not have any critique or feedback. It was that side that appealed to me because I like the idea of working in a smaller group, You get to know each other quite well and there’s the group critique [with Diana Ali] and the one to one tutorial with Christine [Stevens], whose work I absolutely love, so that was a bonus.

Did you find the one to one helpful?

Really helpful, that made me move on from ‘I’ll do the casts again, see if I can get it more precise’. I was actually in this real indecision about it and she gave me her take on it, I think you need those bits of reassurance. We were looking through the old catalogues and I was thinking I really love this piece, because she did EM13, and then Jez said ‘oh that’s Christine, she’s doing your critique!’ That was amazing.

How are you finding sharing a space?

Really good and positive. I do really like it, like I said, Jane I knew and Dave I’ve worked alongside him for the last two or three years… We work really, really different. It’s nice to have someone who knows your work and what you’ve done.

Do you find he works reacts to your work differently to the rest of the group who aren’t familiar?

I think he understands what I mean more because he’s seen what I’ve created before but it’s nice to have fresh eyes on your work too. Especially when it’s something a bit newer that you’re trying to do so you’ve not necessarily had any feedback on that type of work. You get some really different ideas from other people.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Image by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill


EM:16 Pulse 3

It’s hard to believe we’re already three weeks in! It doesn’t seem like long ago we were taking down the last exhibition and prepping the project space for our EM16 residents to arrive. Already the depth of work is fantastic and there’s still two weeks to go until opening night on November 4th. As Connie said in our interview, the project space is an inspiring one. Every time I pop into the project space, I see the work grow, new additions being added and refined and I’m more excited for it to be shared with everyone on opening night.

This week finishes up our series of critiques sessions, the group crit being led by Diana Ali and individual sessions led by Sumiko Eadon, Shelley MacDonald, Christine Stevens and Bruce Asbestos. All the artists seem to have really responded to the chance to get feedback from established artists who have experience in a gallery setting. Everyone seems to have used it to develop their work, as can be seen in my interview with Connie (here) and as I discussed a bit in my interview with Dave Dent (which you’ll have to wait until next week to read). My main worry about opening night is how we’re actually going to carry everything down, specifically a certain metres high monster.

Our workshops so far have been a great success, the volunteers have even been fully taking advantage to grab a space on one whenever they can. It might even be leading the way for something special from Surface in the future… It’s given our artists a chance to try something new in the creative field; that’s the beauty of the residency, and Surface in general for our volunteers, it’s about trying something new and finding what works for the individual.

While I mainly poke around everyone’s work, and I’m only a bit ashamed to admit, ask if I can touch it, our artists have been doing the real heavy work: designing posters, writing press releases and deciding what to do with that lovely big window of ours. Miriam has put countless hours into the poster design and Dave Dent worked on our press release; it’s nice to be able to get involved in every aspect of their graduate show to really have the control over how they present themselves. When they discussed design ideas, the concept that was constantly returned to was shedding the student skin and becoming artists in their own rights. The designs definitely do this - they’re bloody lovely, you can even read the press release and get a sample of the flyer here.

One of the things I’ve especially loved during my interviews is finding out why the name Pulse resonates with each artist and why they came to Surface because despite their work being so diverse, there is a theme that pulls them together. Life, movement, transition, change, and whether it’s come at from a confrontational or reflective place, it has all been about growth. That and me following them around with coffee asking for quotes.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images 1 and 3 by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

Image 2 by Surface Gallery

EM:16 Connie Liebschner

Reams of Connie's black fabric hang down from our skylight, it takes the middle of the room and the rest of the work exists around it but also as part of it. Where the fabric falls here, you notice how it frames itself around a desk and draws you to the notepad left on it, where it climbs up to the ceiling you notice how lovely the light falls through the arch. We sat down to discuss drawing attention to what's actually around you and enjoying the smaller moments.

Have you felt much of a difference creating for a ‘graduate show’ as opposed to creating as a student

There’s a difference between setting your own goals comparative to the goals set on a degree course; it’s nice to have that freedom to be able to do something without necessarily having to tick boxes or jump through hoops so you can justify what you’re doing. It’s nice not having to stop the flow of continuous creativity to stop and document those moments. You can be really in the flow of doing something and it’s really working and you’re inputting something you’ve read but you don’t have to stop and go ‘right i’m going to evaluate why this happened’; even though you do that naturally in your own head. Liberating is the way I’m looking at it but it’s also slightly daunting because you don’t have that cushion of being an undergraduate. You’re establishing yourself as an artist and thinking well this is one of the first pieces to come out after [graduation] so there is some pressure but more from a personal point of view.

What does Pulse mean to you, how do you connect with it?

I think Pulse symbolises something alive and there was also a jokey irony like we’re all still alive, we’ve survived and we’re still wanting to do this. Because financially it’s difficult and there’s a lot of things that say why on earth would you do that kind of thing, despite doing a degree in it, so i think it’s nice to… There’s sort of that thing that we’re still desperately trying to pursue that avenue. We’re still alive, we still love it and there’s that kind of side of it.

But also, in my own practice, I like to do stuff that’s with the here and now and where I am at that moment; it’s about the light-space interaction but it’s temporary and it’s a personal moment and that only happens when you’re alive in that moment. I think Pulse is relevant to everyone’s practice in some way, but that’s my personal take on it.

That personal moment you mentioned - is that something you want your audience to feel, some personal moment with your work?

I think it’s a reflective moment, there’s a personal association for me; a lot of my work is based on observing the everyday and taking a moment to think, yeah actually, that’s really beautiful, that’s really aesthetically pleasing. You look at something in a slightly different way and I think that’s really nice to stop and be reflective on this process. Sitting in this space, it’s been an inspiring space for me because it is interesting architecturally but also being amongst new, creative people. I’m trying to use the space as part of the work and it’s specific, what I’m feeling at that moment. I’m thinking, right i’m going to observe this, I've not really done stuff like this before. It’s really interesting because I'm personally interacting with the space - drawing people’s attention to different parts of the space, maybe slightly differently than how they’ve seen it before. In answer to your question, I guess that’s what I’m trying to get across.

How did you get into using light and space as a medium?

Throughout my degree, I really spent my time documenting the everyday and so, I use a lot of stuff within my own house and this idea of moving and every time you’re remaking a space and after a few months it becomes like home.. Exploring that, I used several different mediums, I was painting, I was photographing, I was printing and all the time the house became like this installation piece. It was quite funny because we’d have group crits and people wouldn’t necessarily know about my work beforehand and they’d say ‘oh is this a set design, have you set this up?’ None of it was ever set up it was all just things I was observing as time went on but because people don’t stop and look at the everyday you assume it’s some beautiful show home type thing where the light’s coming across and everything’s really perfect and it’s not. It’s just you’re in that moment and you go ‘I want to photograph that’ or ‘I want to paint that really quickly’. I think a lot of the time artists are searching to find out what they’re interested in but actually it’s all around them all the time.

There’s a little extracting formula for it as well - like what do all these images have in common because often it’s very visual. There’s often lots of similarities between the images so you’re thinking is it a tonal thing? Is it the light? Is it an angle that keeps repeating or the window? What is the formula to that moment? Because everyone relates to that same moment. I remember somebody saying to me, it’s really strange because you’re putting this out there and then everyone else is relating to it so then this solitary becomes a group thing.

I know we’ve touched on how you want to draw people to what they don’t really notice but how will you use the space - what do you want people to get from it?

We were discussing this with Diana Ali, [in the group critique] and I was saying I’m really inspired by this space up here and how’s this going to translate downstairs because it’s a very different space. I think the idea is I’m going to respond to it quite spontaneously not too far beforehand because I think then it becomes a bit forced.

The interesting thing about the space downstairs is it’s an exhibition space so there’s remnants of that everywhere - there’s hooks and hanging points you can see, the nails in the ceiling where people have hung stuff before and I think that’s kind of interesting because you can draw attention to the history of that space by attaching and reusing those kinds of fastenings or whatever and I’ll play on that. I want it to be about the space not just about what I’m putting into it so that will kind of dictate where the fabric will go - where it will be hung from. it’s kind of exciting but also a bit scary because i’m usually very much, i know exactly what i’m going to do and i’m coming out this from a very different - much more spontaneous angle.

It must be quite difficult though because you’ve got a lot of fabrics set up here - in the space - and it will need to move down to a new space.

I’m always changing it, that’s the thing about it. I’ve been using these chairs [to position it] and I like the idea people can then sit in the chairs. Originally I wanted it to be really clean and I was going to drill bits into the floor so I could do fastening very discreetly. Because I’m experimenting, I don’t want to do anything that will risk the fabric for the time being so I’ve just been attaching them to the objects that have been up here but actually the chairs work really well - if you go sit in the chairs you get a completely different angle from each one and it pulls you into certain points in the ceiling which I think is really interesting so maybe i’ll end up using chairs in the space.

Diana advised us to go with it and literally a few hours before opening just set it up and i was like oh god, i’m not sure about that but i get what she means, it’s a very spontaneous approach to something that could become very artificial. Like a bit pre-planned and rigid and what works about it right now is that it does feel fluid. I don’t mind if people move the chairs, it moves the dynamics of the space and that’s the fun - I can just take it down. Each time I take it down and put it back up it’s turned out completely differently.

Why did you apply for the residency?

I think it’s very difficult at the beginning to create by yourself with no input - it’s almost like you get so much freedom it’s overwhelming. The first few weeks after my degree I was really into the flow of it and I was really excited about what I was able to do; I started printing again and started doing things and really enjoyed the making aspect. I applied for the residency because I thought actually it gives me an opportunity to be experimental but within this sphere where you’ve still got other people's input - all these new artists, and everyone at Surface, that I’ve never met before and that’s really helpful because everybody has come from a slightly different perspective - so that’s an interesting dynamic for the group. We’re all very different in the subject matter, I was hoping that would be the case because it gives you a completely different input so i think the residency is really helpful because it’s that transition point.

So you’re enjoying sharing the space with other people?

I like the feedback because what you like doing, you can get very stuck in a certain route and you keep doing the same thing over and over again. You don’t have anyone to say oh what do you think of this - it’s really nice to have a new set of people to say should I make it interactive? Do you like these photographs ? It’s even really nice to have someone say I don’t think that’s working. People don’t often say they don’t like things - it allows you to question yourself a bit more.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

EM:16 Tayler Fisher

I was looking forwards to Tayler's interview because I'm fond of the morbid and grotesque and Tayler's work is very at home with both; what made it more fun was how enthusiastic he is for work, even spilling tea everywhere once or twice.

Have you felt much of a difference creating as a graduate opposed to creating as a student?

I’d say no because… I got to third year, and especially mid way through third year, I already felt like I was kind of ready. I tried to stop thinking of myself as just a student because I think, you hold yourself back, don’t you? So no, in terms of that, not a lot different. Going into uni … I knew I kind of wanted to explore this area to get my work out there in this way. So yeah, it’s just carrying on. It’s just a mental thing, [if you think] I’m just a student, it doesn’t matter. You have to own it, your work is never going to be what it should be if you don’t own it.

With the group name of Pulse, how do you connect to it to your own work?

The work that I’m creating for this is a big dying creature so, straight away, pulse, heart beat life. This work came off the back of packing up my degree show. I had to pack up some work and there was this one piece I knew I had to get rid of but I didn’t want to; I was just like right, stuff this, pulled it down to the ground and it’s this huge 2 metre thing so it comes down with some force, its leg snaps and it’s kind of laying there... It was just this genius moment of ‘this actually looks better than it did stood up’ and I started thinking about it more and that mixed with the end of uni and having to get out there. You think it’s the end of something and then that becomes the challenge and the reason to carry on. I realised, through showing something as dead, it almost gave it more life than it being stood up. I realised, maybe they’re just sculptures so through killing something,  you’ve almost given it more life. So when somebody mentioned pulse i was like right yeah, that fits.

I think, I’m, in terms of pulse, I’m trying to confront people It’s kind of more exposing the mortality of life, of pulse, rather than exploring it.

When did you get into sculpting?

Not until third year, I’ve always drawn and painted since primary school, I knew I was gonna do art, it was all I ever did. But when I was at uni, all my friends were sculptors. I was constantly around sculptors and a lot of their work was getting me more excited than what I was doing at the time. Everyone was saying I should make [my work] 3D and I was a bit reluctant but I was like stuff it, I’ll try it. Literally the first thing I did I was like, I’m so happy, it’s so good and then I did a couple more and knew I had to do more. Come third year, I just started trying out more and more and before I knew it, most of the third year was devoted to owning the 3D. I always painted so I knew where I was with that; throughout uni I was always experimenting and trying to find new ways of painting and stuff like that. That’s why I ended up using spray paints, because it’s different from what I’d been doing but yeah, materials has been an important thing. And doing sculptures, you have to think about materials more and then those materials tell you what to do with the shape of the work.

We’ve touched on it a little bit, but what should people expect from you on opening night? Confrontation?

Yeah, I suppose a little bit, I always try and get that across in my work to some extent, whether it’s intimidating through the size of something or the slight grotesque nature of the materials. For example, I use a lot of sheep wool and it’s completely raw, straight off the sheep. I’ve just had this new lot in and it’s really dirty, so y’know, if you’re presented with that in a gallery space, people are gonna be kind of like put off from going into it straight away; but what i’m showing in the actual space is a really big dying creature, it should be laid down on the floor and you kind of capture it’s dying moment. It can’t gather the energy to get itself back up so it’s a similar aesthetic to previous practice, a lot more fur and wool. I mean I had sound in my degree show but that was more played into the room as a soundtrack to give a landscape to the work but this time I’m going to have to have sound coming from inside the work. A bit of howling from the head, breathing from the chest, that sort of thing. I’m hoping to use a speaker, take all the housing from the speaker and use bass frequency to make it twitch a little bit, like it’s breathing it’s the last breath.

Have you done physical movement before?

No, I thought it’s something new I’ll try out on the residency. I’m hoping to do two to three hour tracks so every time somebody walks in they’re experiencing something new. I think that was an element that worked in my degree show because I had a three hour loop so literally every time somebody walked in they were having a different kind of experience with the sculptures. Yeah, (laughs) I can’t even remember what the question was now.

It was a good answer though, it was what to expect from you on opening night

Right! Yeah! So big dying creature, bit of sound, hopefully a bit of movement and I’m doing it big in the sense I want it to be confronting the space in some way if I can so y’know, the audience has to walk around it to get though… It’s to impose the space, I want people to be confronted on that level because all of my practise is about, if you can effect the audience they’ll begin to contemplate on the work and realise it’s maybe a comment on them, a comment on us. It’s my way of effecting them.

What made you apply for the residency?

It’s good to have an opportunity to carry on ideas straight away because I mean the degree show, for people who’ve just graduated will be, well it should be, the biggest show they’ve done so far. It’s the biggest bit of feedback you have and as the show’s going on, you’re having more and more ideas of what you want to do so it’s good to have the opportunity to carry on those ideas. I’ve got a sketchbook I only started a few months ago and I’ve already saved up a load of ideas.

How are you finding sharing a space with 7 other people?

It’s good sharing a space in terms of having new outlooks and people to bounce off. It’s good to have Miriam because I didn’t really know anybody who was into sound, in my degree show besides accompanying video I don’t really know anybody who used sound as a work so that’s good to bounce around and she’s doing cool stuff.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill