Artist, recent graduate and Surface volunteer Nadia reflects on her new found inspiration and admiration of Nottingham...
After finishing my Fine Art degree four months ago, I found it difficult to get excited about a piece of work. From a small quote in a book to a performance piece, I couldn’t engage or find myself interested in any form of art. After being based in Newcastle for four years I moved back to Nottingham, which I was told was a really bad Idea as Nottingham apparently has "no culture" or "art scene". The people who gave me this advice couldn’t be more wrong. After being home for four months so far, I am shocked, relieved and proud to be from Nottingham. There are so many great and exciting things happening here...
I have already been able to see five exciting exhibitions at Surface Gallery, and this has excited me. The EM14 exhibition was an show based on a residency that Surface Gallery held for 8 recent graduates from East Midland’s Universities. A variety of media were brought together for the exhibition which included performance, sculpture and photography. Over the month of October, the EM14 organized workshops for the public – one of which was a performance workshop run by artist Tina Mirsharifi. On the day of the workshop I walked into the gallery and started making my way up the stairs to the artists in residence studio (project space). As I walked up to the top floor I did not hear voices so I had no idea what to expect. As I reached the top of the stairs, Tina Mirsharifi kindly introduced herself to me and gave me some clothing to wear. I was covered from the head to toe with a black sheet and was given a white cloth that covered my face. It immediately struck me that this was something in relation to culture possibly Islamic culture and then I began thinking about gender and women's status and rights within these cultures. This, in turn, made me begin thinking about Shadi Ghadirian and her work at the Saatchi in 2009.
With these thoughts running through my head I was excited for what was to come next in the workshop. After putting on the outfit I was directed to a seat and asked to stay in the seat and do whatever I wanted; whatever came naturally. With the cloth covering my face I couldn't really see anything and was not too sure what she meant. For me this outfit wasn't natural so I sat there for a few minutes thinking what it would be like to dance in this outfit then began thinking should I dance in this outfit. Then I thought, well that's not natural, there is no music. So I decided I would simply stay still and not do anything. I soon relaxed and started to really engage with what I was asked to wear. There was comfort in being in the outfit, and I began thinking about being reserved, polite and shy. I began thinking about clothes in general and how an image can really define you and your personality. I wondered whether wearing such an outfit made it more challenging to express your personality or not? Hence my reference to a reserved, polite and shy personality.
After realising I was finished in the seat I got up and hesitated and said I was finished. I then walked forward where I was handed a note board with a sheet to fill in. With these questions and thoughts running in my head, the sheet has now become a blur and I no longer remember what comments I made. But as I left the workshop I was filled with so many questions and thoughts of what had just happened, and artist’s performances, photography and films were running through my head. It was the first time in 4 months since my Degree Show that I had any form of desire or excitement to start anything in my practice.
Since the workshop I have began working on a project. I have been researching and getting involved in a couple of creative groups, including Mouthy Poets based at the Playhouse and Collabar-8 which is based at Nottingham Contemporary. Not only have I met some really exciting and creative people in Nottingham but I am no longer concerned and worried about my own practice. I am optimistic about what 2015 holds in Nottingham especially at Surface Gallery. This building has re-lit my inspiration for art. Don’t miss out on what Surface Gallery has to offer for the rest of this year.
Bob Robinson’s exhibition of Painting and Sculpture Part 2 in the Project space until 20th Dec
Ian Fink’s ‘Unsuitable’ in the Main gallery until 20th Dec 2014.
Nadia: http://nadiascola.wordpress.com/ & http://vimeo.com/user18150524
Written by Nadia Scola.