AS PART OF THE EM18 GRADUATE PROJECT, WHERE RECENT GRADUATES ARE OFFERED A RESIDENCY IN OUR PROJECT SPACE FOR THE MONTH, WE’RE INTERVIEWING THE ARTISTS ABOUT THEIR PRACTICE AND THEIR VIEWS ON ART AS A WHOLE. OUR THIRD INTERVIEW IS WITH EMILY STOLLERY.
For those who don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little about yourself, and your practice as an artist?
I’ve just graduated from the Fine Art course at Nottingham Trent, and now have a studio at One Thoresby Street in Nottingham. My practice is predominantly sculptural and is driven by the materials I work with and how I can exploit their properties.
My most recent works bring together two very different strains of making; steam bent wood and ceramic forms. I enjoy the shift in the properties these materials undergo; something seemingly hard transformed to a fluid form. Softness frozen solidly in a fixed state— in a way that somewhat goes against the ‘rules’ of my chosen medium. Breaking them out of the confines of what we know they are capable of, and perhaps suggesting an alternative. Traces of a working process are integrated into the ‘finished’ object, though nothing is ever final, with the work having scope to change continuously. Iteration after iteration, not once existing in the same configuration.
Having come out of university, have you noticed any differences between working as a student artist, and creating your work for a wider, public market?
For myself especially, having a workshop-based practice has meant that my attitude towards making has had to change quite drastically since leaving university. However, it’s something I’m getting to grips with more recently, as I’ve been able to build tools/machinery of my own for my work. In itself that was quite an exciting experience, but I’m also lucky to share a studio with other workshop-based artists in One Thoresby Street, meaning I have access to more tools, equipment and space to make new work. I’m already realising how independent my practice is becoming since leaving the comforts of the university studio, where feedback was continuous. I’m having to trust my own judgement a lot more, which is always tricky at first, but I’m quite enjoying the adjustment from university. It’s an exciting time.
When did you first involve yourself with the art scene? Was this due to your educational experiences, or were you inspired from other parts of your life?
From the first day at Nottingham Trent, you’re thrown into this bustling art scene, shown around the spaces and introduced to curators/directors of spaces. So, it’s definitely through my education that I got involved with the Nottingham art scene. There’s always so much going on in Nottingham— it’s great to be a part of that.
During this residency, what are your plans? How are you using this time at Surface?
Since leaving university I haven’t had much space to be experimental with my work. So during this residency I’m really utilising this pressure-free environment to be really experimental. I haven’t come here thinking I’m going to be producing resolved works, which has allowed me to just test a few ideas with some new materials I haven’t worked with before or haven’t worked with for some time in my practice. So I’m not quite sure what my results will be from the residency, but what I do hope is that the work in the exhibition will be a catalyst for future works/ideas for me to develop.
Where else have you exhibited, and other than the EM18 Show on 2nd November, do you have any future exhibitions?
I’ve been in a few exhibitions since leaving University, I still am most proud of being 1 of 10 artists shortlisted for the Woon Prize this year. I’ve since exhibited in Pleat Gallery (online), Air Gallery (Manchester) and Bankley Gallery (Manchester), with some exciting projects to follow. I will be doing a residency with Spareroom Residency (Liverpool) in the new year, as well as being involved in the UKYA Nottingham City Takeover in February, which is going to be really exciting, and then I’ll be showing work in the Netherlands, as part of the Kunstpodium T Apprentice Master Project.
As a final question I’ve asked everyone I’ve interviewed, what do you think is the future of the arts? And if you had infinite resources, what kind of work would you make in that future?
I really can’t predict what the future of the arts will be. However, I do know that if I had infinite resources I’d just want to keep making my work and practice more and more ambitious through scale and materials. It’s something I’ve never been able to push as much as I’d like to.
Thank you very much Emily! You can see her work at the opening PENUMBRA, details coming soon to our social media and website! For more information about Emily’s work, check out her website here.