International Postcard Show: Artist Interview

ARTIST: NICKI MCNANEY

I lecture at the University of Derby in Illustration and set up the Wooden Dog Press with my friend & colleague, illustrator, Richard Levesley, to document some of our professional practice and to share our common interest in drawing, storytelling, and printmaking.

The Night Siren print derived from an artist book I have been creating for the Pages Book Fair 2017, Leeds which initially was inspired by the title “ Mermaids are Always Welcome” and the curious nature of the mythical creaturese and lure of the mermaids to sea fairing sailors. I am interested in creating a backstory and narrative to even a simple illustration and hope that the audience will also create their own interpretation of what they feel the characters and environments communicate.

My work consists of a series of personal and collaborative illustration projects in which I investigate aspects of artifacts, collections, curation and curiosity. My most recent work creates visual hybrids where one element is shown in proximity or even blended with another object or character. I invite people to consider their own narrative and to react to what they are shown. My work aims to create curiosity from the ordinary and less seen. I test the notion that the collection of objects, character and the environment they exist in, is thought provoking and that narrative value is subjective.

I prefer to work in silkscreen, mono-print and collage, as the processes offer the opportunity to create textures, mark making and layering of colour that I seek to enhance the uniqueness and individuality of the publications and the final prints. I am interested in challenging traditional processes and exploring their application in artists book, print and in this case the postcard format.

 

Website: www.woodendogpress.ac.uk

Website: http://www.derby.ac.uk

Twitter @derbyillustrate

Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

International Postcard Show: Artist Interview

ARTIST: MARY DIXON

 

Introduce yourself and your art.

I live in Northern NSW in Australia. Printmaking is my main interest at present, both intaglio and relief.

 

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

There are still many mangroves where I live.  They are dark and mysterious and full of marine creatures but further north there may even be crocodiles.  
 

What was your intention for your postcard?

I want to evoke a feeling of subtle threat and attraction of the mangroves.

 

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

Because of the continued coastal development mangroves are disappearing.  As well as being interesting they are also very important places for the birth and development of many species of fish.

Which artists inspire you?

Egon Schiele, Klimt, Kentridge, Munakata, Hokusai

 

What research do you do for your art works?

I walk through the area and take numerous photos as well as sketches. I study some of the techniques used by master printers.

 

nterview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

International Postcard Show: Artist Interview

ARTIST: JENNIFER YIP

 

  I am a Year 2 Fine Art student of the University of Lincoln. My artworks centred around the beauty of everyday life and specific colours of cities. Through a delicate style of drawing and painting, my works aimed to capture a particular moment in our daily lives, as well as to raise people’s awareness to every object and scenery which we sometimes overlooked.

 

 As an international student studying in the UK, I often yearn to be home, Hong Kong. It was perhaps of the feeling of homesickness which inspired the idea of my postcard. The particular use of bright colours may be related to the famous night view of Hong Kong, as well as to link with personal experiences and memories.

 

Following the rapid development of our surroundings, fast-paced living habits appeared to dominate our everyday lives. By focusing on unnoticeable characteristics and features of a local area, I would like to remind, as well to encourage our society to pause and admire the pleasantness of every objects or scenery.

 

It is my first time to participate in an exhibition and I am feeling very excited about it. Not only does the exhibition offer me a chance to share my artwork with a wider audience, but as well to be involved in opportunities of a professional context, which may help in building up confidence and gaining experiences.

 

As my artworks relate to themes such as everyday lives and memories, all illustrations of scenes involved the process of visiting different places in person. During conversations with the local people, it allowed a better understanding of the area and its surroundings. With more knowledge of the background and history of site, a more suitable choice of media may be used to demonstrate a better representation.

Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

Treasure Hunt, Hong Kong

Treasure Hunt, Hong Kong

International Postcard Show: Artist Interview

ARTIST: ROSA QUINTANA

 

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)

Re:Surface : Interview with the artist

ARTIST: REBECCA PEAREY

 

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

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.  

Traceyking.com

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Image by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

 

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

www.connieliebschner.com

instagram..com/Connieliebschner_art

EM:16 Pulse 2

The planning and progress meetings are a great to keep up with what’s happening but they’re also just a great excuse for me to go have a nosy at how much the Project Space has already transformed. As Dave Dent reminds me, four weeks isn’t actually that long and we’re already a week in. On the way up the stairs, the formings of, what I assume is, the head of Tayler Fisher’s creature is the first thing to greet me. It’s quite charming in all its monstrous glory and I’m excited to see the thing grow.   

Connie Liebschner's work progress

Connie Liebschner's work progress

Black fabric flows from the skylight and reminds me of the blue sea of fabric that had swam down only a few weeks ago as part of Celine Siani Djiakoua's 'Deep Sea', especially with her medusa like wall painting still large on the wall. It makes you realise that as quickly as the gallery can move between exhibitions, they all leave their lasting impression on us.

When we do start the meeting, conversation is rapid and trying to cover everything as quickly as possible. We discuss opening night, whether or not we need music, especially alongside Miriam Bean’s creative soundscapes. The most important question though, do we need to offer food? And if so, what? (My sore throat meant I didn't have enough voice to offer up the obvious option, themed cookies)

Diana Ali offering the group critique

Diana Ali offering the group critique

This week was the group critique session with Diana Ali and it seems to be something everyone looked forwards to. Uta Feinstein says how positive it will be to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at her work. It bridges the gap between independent work and the kind of creative feedback anyone who has done a creative course is used to. It also gives our resident artists a chance to meet many local talented artists and draw on their expertise.

On our side, as we look back through previous graduate programme catalogues it shows us how far we’ve come; while each year has been brilliant, every year we’ve been more prepared and able to add to the previous year. I’m so looking forwards to sharing it with you on opening night.

Turning it up to 11

Turning it up to 11

Keep an eye on the blog Sunday when we will have another interview with some of our resident artists.

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images 1 and 3 by Gavin ‘Urban Shutterbug’ Conwill

Image 2 by Jez Kirby

 

EM:16 Pulse

It’s one of the most exciting times of year at the gallery, not only is Halloween just around the corner but the East Midlands Graduate Programme is finally beginning its residency. Our eight resident artists have been chosen for offering a style and project our committee was genuinely excited to showcase; and this year our artists cover a wide variety of mediums and influences so it promises to be a varied and exciting show. There’s something incredibly special about the first project created after graduation when you are beginning to label yourself as an artist without the adage of ‘student’. We’re excited to be part of this transition and hope you are as well.

    Connie Liebschner, Uta Feinstein, Jane Smith, Dave Dent, Tracey King, Ellysia Bugler, Tayler Fisher, Miriam Bean

   Connie Liebschner, Uta Feinstein, Jane Smith, Dave Dent, Tracey King, Ellysia Bugler, Tayler Fisher, Miriam Bean

Our first planning meeting, this Monday, was the first time we’ve all met in one big group; this could be an incredibly awkward experience with lots of drawn out introductions and ‘ummm’s but everyone’s instantly bonded. We’re all there for the same reason, to create something great. and besides, we don’t have time for nerves, there’s too much to do.

                      The Group Discussing Ideas

                      The Group Discussing Ideas

Our main aim this week is to discuss flyers and names - how the group want to brand themselves and present their debut. The recurring idea is that the design, and name, needs to say ‘Artist’ not Art Student’. The name settled on is Pulse, and the flyer, well, you’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

This week, the group was happy to meet with John Mitchell, of WiT Partnerships, who is conducting an independent evaluation for Surface to follow the residency; it plans to see what the artists hope to gain from the residency, what their plans are and then will reflect back on this once the exhibition has actually begun. John describes it as “more about learning than evaluation,” and it promises to teach us at Surface as much as it does the artists.

Next week, the artists will be having their critique sessions, which was mentioned in our October newsletter. Local artists will be meeting with the graduates, based on their experiences for individual critique sessions, as well as a group critique. Look forwards to reading more about this next Wednesday, when we look back on what’s happening and how the group are feeling for their sessions.

                                                       The Artists known as Pulse            

                                                       The Artists known as Pulse            

This Saturday kicks off our first EM16 workshops, the ‘Noisemaker Workshop’ led by Miriam Bean and ‘Engaging the Senses’ with Ellysia Bugler. I’ll also be publishing some interviews with them on Sunday so make sure to check back and find out how it went!

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images by Gavin ‘Urban Shutterbug’ Conwill

Maggie Smith the Quiet Rebel

Maggie Smith is a Surface Alumni whose current work Botanical Alchemy is a development of her "fine art background, a love of home and place, and passion for the natural world". We discussed environmental art, the science of being a hippy and the impact sustainability has had on Maggie's life.

You said your current work is inspired by your Fine Arts background, can you tell me more about this?

I did two degrees, my first degree was in Social Sciences  but I always carried on doing life drawings and making things and I always wanted to do something more creative so I went back to university as a mature student after I’d worked for a while. I went to Loughborough to do Fine Art, I concentrated on printmaking, when I graduated I actually was making films because at Loughborough it was really experimental. As long as in the first year you followed the prescribed route, after that you were set free. So I did a lot of film making, a lot of photography and I still do that. I ended up teaching and I just really loved teaching textiles… I’d made my own clothes when I was younger and made stuff. My mum taught me on an old fashioned sewing machine she’d given me. There was a chance of getting a redundancy package and completely on a whim, overnight, I thought instead of daydreaming about going back to a creative life, I’d just do it.

Did you find that scary or did you not have time to find that scary?

It should have been scary but it was just really exciting. It was almost like going back 20 years when I’ve got all these opportunities. I’ve gone off down South and visited various hippy groups and people who are involved in eco printing, natural dyeing. I met a really nice woman called babs who is part of Botanical Ink, they work at festivals and where they live is this lovely old, kind of tumble down farm, outside of bath. And there I got really good grounding in foraging, how to use plants to dye silk and that was the first time I thought, actually, I’m going to take this further. I’m not just going to explore using the natural world in my prints, I’m going to seriously consider going whole hog. So, I did buy quite a lot of silk from organic silk makers down South and then I just got addicted more and more to finding ways in which to not use anything that was part of the commercial world so I use silk that’s organic. And it’s so beautiful to work with. I decided I would not go and buy anything that’s not sustainable or I use second hand or pre-used, recycled things and it’s working really well.

Have you grown up with a love of nature?

When I first came to Nottingham, my first student bedsit I had window boxes so I’ve always grown things. I’ve never ever lived anywhere where I haven’t grown things. But now I do it in a much more organic way, I suppose, I try to look at what grows naturally and I’m not bothered about forcing nature to go against itself, I go with it more. So yeah, it has completely changed the way I see the world and it’s made me realise I can live with less. The more I live with less, the further I go. It goes hand in hand really, it’s the whole practice of life.

Do you hope your work will inspire people to look into a more sustainable lifestyle?

I was more concerned with how you could remove that ‘hippy’ image of it being a bit messy, and a bit tatty and I thought, well, the fabrics are so beautiful when you’ve made them that these fabrics almost need this space to kind of, show off a little bit. So that’s why my prints are really minimal and my stitches are really minimal because I want the fabrics to be the really important part of the work. Up to now I’ve been less bothered about directly influencing people. I’ve sort of got this idea that if you very quietly do it, if people look at the work and they like it and then they discover that actually, it’s recycled, it’s dyed with stuff from the garden, or onion skins from the kitchen... That actually you can have something that is aesthetically really beautiful, and can be quite contemporary looking but behind it all, is a really hippy concept. I like the idea of surprising people. I think that’s really important is that it works visually.

What drew you to Social Sciences?

I wanted university life more than I ever thought about why I was really going quite honestly. It was not at all a mature decision, (laughs) I was 18 and wanted to leave home.

I don’t regret the way round I did it though because where I’ve studied social sciences, I’ve got a really good context for fine arts. I’m quite interested in what’s happening behind the work that you see. So for example, I’m quite interested in how younger people, people who are now going to university are much more global, I suppose, in how they see the world. That’s why it was lovely go to visit these communal places in the South and I found these people in their twenties and thirties leading really alternative lives really quietly and just getting on with it and thinking up new ways they could earn a living without damaging anything, without damaging the planet and it’s just really lovely. 

I imagine, especially with a sustainable approach, it must be quite time consuming?

It really, really is. It’s not at all rushed. Something else I’m quite conscious of with these pieces, because I made these pieces for [Surface Dwellers], all those pillars I make are subtle. They don’t have any synthetic quality to them, so they all work brilliantly together, they can all be placed together but if they’re going to be in a show or a gallery where you have acrylic, harder colours or kind of street art designs, they would really look quite pale. So I chose colours I knew would be quite strong, so even though they’re quite gentle and the palate is quite gentle, I think they’re really strong colours. They’re the colours that can stand up to the sunlight. I wanted the fabrics to really shine and sing and that’s something that I did learn going up and down the country meeting people who were hand dying; how to work with fabrics where you’re not using really harsh methods so I don’t use really harsh temperatures. I watch everything with a thermometer. If you notice with the silk pieces, they have a really metallic shine to them, and that’s the original lustre of the silk, as soon as you get them too hot, you lose that so it is an incredibly slow process.  

I think that comes back to what you said, that people have this very hippy image of it but it’s also very scientific

It’s very scientific. To get that consistency of colour, you can’t get exactly the same shade each time, and that’s the exciting bit, but there’s so many bits I can control. You know, the evenness, I can dye fabric very, very evenly. I can keep the qualities of the fabric intact, even down to the screenprinting process, I use organic screen wash. As much as possible, anything used in the process is environmentally friendly. I used water based ink so when they’re flushed away, they’re not going to harm anything.

You’re still in contact with Surface since leaving, what makes you stay involved?

What I really like about Surface, is that you have all these volunteers that sort of squirrel away behind the surface that you don’t really see. You don’t realise the vastness of it until there’s a show on. It’s really lovely. It’s really nice. And also, there’s an energy from having quite a lot of young people around. People who have just graduated or who are still studying whatever they’re doing and I also like the fact it’s not just artists who get involved. It’s all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds that come together. 

Do you use social media much to promote?

I do! I have an instagram account and when I took [art] on full time, I got rid of all the pictures of my dog (laugh) and focused on just my artwork. I keep my website going, but I’m not really very good at self promoting and that’s something i have to push myself to do. I tend to work quietly.

           I’ve also got a blog on my website. I did a creative writing course at WEA, with Dave Woods. I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always admired people who were good with words and on that course… It made me realise that actually, I could write. He was really good at giving you self belief.  He used really simple techniques to get people writing which worked really well. It was excellent.

What interested you in creative writing?

When I was really little, I used to make these newspapers, I’d sew them together on this old sewing machine I had. I could only make one at a time. I’d sell them and then take them back and pass them on to someone else. It was all in my family. I have always loved words and language and they really do go, you know, if you think about the context of film, and anything really, language is so important. Spoken language, unspoken language, it just goes hand in hand.

I wouldn’t have even entertained doing a blog on my website if all those years ago I hadn’t taken a creative writing course. I’d got them in separate boxes, I’d probably have thought someone else would have to do the writing for me but actually, the words I use are related to the work I do. They’re not separate. They’re part of the same thing. 

Do you still do things like to make your own clothes?

I sort of adapt things. I’m not scared to get something and adapt it. Last weekend, we went to a car boot and got masses of clothes. I’ll always be scavenging. I think now, I’m less bothered about having stuff. I’m quite happy if people give me things or i find it in a car boot or a second hand shop but it doesn’t have any significance for me. I’m less bothered.

Do you think you’ve just become more practical?

Definitely. I’ve also been quite a hermit for a year so it’s quite nice when i go out now i think oh, I can get dressed up. It’s quite nice to wear something sparkly! I’ve got in the habit of being scruffy because I go to a studio, or i’m walking the dog or gardening and I’ve just had a year where i haven’t really gone out that much.

Is there a reason or just how it happened?

It’s just how it happened. It’s such a huge life change, giving up being part of the system. I felt like a really quiet rebel. I don’t earn money in the conventional way, I forage, I constantly think of how to recycle things or how to make things with very little money. I’ve just been doing my own path but now I do feel I’m ready to go to other people’s shows again and go out more and connect with people

Website

www.maggiesmith.co.uk

Facebook

www.facebook.com/workbymaggie

Instagram

www.instagram.com/maggssmith

Written by Lucinda Martin at Surface Gallery

Nine: A Look Beneath the Surface

This month our resident Studio Artists have dusted off their paints, prints and cameras and selected the best pieces of their current projects, created in their studios just above the gallery, for their annual in-house exhibition.

In 2013 the Studio Artists joined as 'Eight'. Since then spaces have swapped hands and some of the artists have moved out of Surface Gallery’s studios and onto new projects and activities. This year, a collaboration of nine current and previous resident Artists have opened their part-time home and gallery, showcasing the diverse work and the breadth of talent in a multi-faceted exhibition including photography, printmaking, paint and Yoda...

Launched Friday 25th July, Nine will be open to the public until the 9th August – alongside this, exhibiting artist Paul Henegan is sharing the exploration of print in his own practice through a number of open workshops on Saturday 2nd August - He has been teaching for many years and has run several successful print workshops in the past, so come along, have some fun, see if you're up-to-scratch and produce some prints to take home...even stick them on your fridge!

One of Paul Henegan's prints in 'Nine'.

One of Paul Henegan's prints in 'Nine'.

A cheeky peek at Paul's studio space, which he shares with wife, Gerry.

A cheeky peek at Paul's studio space, which he shares with wife, Gerry.

Along with Paul's print work, our Artists work with photography, printmaking, mixed-media installation and sculptural tableau. One of our other longstanding artists Ian Cutmore is displaying his current project work – Through the medium of photography, Ian explores his interest in landscapes through the 'fleeting, contingent imagery observed while travelling'.

Part of Ian Cutmore's space in 'Nine'.

Part of Ian Cutmore's space in 'Nine'.

Your final sneek peak...is the work of resident Jade Yasmin How. Jade's 'Materials of choice' are “Pen, photoshop, sewing machines, digital printing, neoprene and Cork material”. In Nine, she presents elegant and simple linework which contains an in depth context of what she calls “simple pleasures” and “sensory desires” of “tatlie humanity”. Now that was a mouthful.

Jade Yasmin How - Milk & Honey

Jade Yasmin How - Milk & Honey

Jade & Charlotte's artsy/shabby-chic studio space.

Jade & Charlotte's artsy/shabby-chic studio space.

There is still plenty of time to learn more about our wonderful Nine artists, so come along to Surface and see their exhibition in the flesh! This is an annual event showcasing the artists that make Surface what it is - one not to be missed!

Exhibition open until 9th August 2014.

 

TUESDAY TO FRIDAY 1200 - 1800
SATURDAY 1100 - 1700

Workshops:
Saturday 2nd August.
11am-12pm, 1pm- 2pm, 2.15pm-3.15pm
Children & Families: all ages welcome. £2.50 per person.
Booking is advisable as spaces are limited. Please contact us to reserve your place: surfacegallery@gmail.com

 

Written by Megan Bonser, Surface Gallery Volunteer.

Bringing High Wycombe to Nottingham

While we hold a number of annual events at Surface Gallery, “At The First Clash” is one of our hire shows. We chose this show from a number of proposals for its originality, and the artists’ inspired use of space, form and colour, bringing a fresh new aesthetic to our Gallery.

“At The First Clash” welcomes Alex Dewart, Lindall Pearce and Marion Piper from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, to Surface Gallery for their first exhibition in Nottingham. These three artists haven’t shown together as a group before and this exhibition gives them a platform to interrogate their work within a new context.

Dewart works with printed cotton and oil paints to manipulate the boundaries between two and three dimension...this is paired alongside Piper’s handling of surface and tone, which is drawn together by Pearce’s use of colour and direction of light. The exhibition has been carefully curated to lead the viewer around the space, framing all of the artists’ work from different angles, creating a number of different perspectives to view the work as a collection, and the space it inhabits.

It is a great pleasure for Surface Gallery to host these three diverse artists for such an exciting show, where they draw links and embrace their unique styles, coming together to find a common ground. It’s really exciting for us to work with artists in this way, with an objective for discovery, using the perimeter of the exhibition as a tool for this.

Their exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated essay, by Maggie Grey, who examines their practices, highlighted the artists’ influences and giving us a much more in depth view of the artists themselves.

We love how this show plays with structure and freedom and the pull between the artists and their individual processes, and we this works fantastically within our space and the context of how we work here at Surface.

The show is open until 12th July so don’t miss out. 

At The First Clash opening

At The First Clash opening