International Postcard Show: Artist Interview

ARTIST: NATALIE ANNE YOSTEN

 

Introduce yourself and your art.

My name is Natalie Anne Yosten, and my postcard is called Spirits Rising.

    

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

I was at my first Nebraska Husker Football game (American Football), and the balloons were released during half-time. It’s usually the time to get the home team reeved up for the next half of the game, or just to keep all the fans amused. It was a perfect moment, because the sun was about to set below the stadium. I took a picture on my Samsung Galaxy phone, right when the light was shimmering off the balloons as they rose to touch the light. It was a beautiful, exciting, and delightful moment! The crowd’s spirits seem to rise with the balloons all in a great cheer!

 

What  was your intention for your postcard?

To convey the beauty, passion, and spirit of the moment.

    

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

This is my very first exhibition, and I’m extremely nervous and excited! To do it on an international level makes me nervous, because there are so many wonderous things in the world. If my work does okay, then I will be very pleased.

 

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

It may be portrayed as whimsical or perceived a bit childishly, but I chose the balloons as a moment that could be from any part of the world. We all have events and festivals where joy is taken, and spirits rise in fervor to the music and the sounds from fellow participants! The world can be filled with horror, but for a moment it can be so light and beautiful!

 

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

At the moment I would like to believe this would be an escaping moment most people in the world would cling to. Just a fleeting moment of joy, and I think we all try to hold the good times as long as we can. Keep them precious while we experience them, and as we try to recall them in memory. Our world is a grave place, and we all want to rise above the bad things.

 

What artists inspire you?

Well, I have always liked Josephine Wall’s Art, but for photography specifically I like Steve McCurry and Margaret Bourke-White.

 

What research do you do for your art works?

I will admit, I don’t research very much for my art work. When it comes to Photography I have become accustomed to just trying to capture the moment when I see a good one.

My inspiration usually comes when I am with friends, family, or in nature. I just snap a shot at what I think is good. I have learned about lighting, angles to pose in, and am trying to do more to create specific views. I still believe that many good shots happen on their own.

 

Do you have a creative routine/pattern?

No, I’m a hopeless amateur, and haven’t been able to get a good creative routine down. For now, I work off of the pressure of the deadline or by just being patient. Good times to take a photograph that doesn’t have to be edited are rare. I wait patiently, watching, camera in hand for those moments.

 

What are you trying to communicate with your postcard?

I try to convey with my postcards the feelings or thoughts that I have in the moment. I just hope that they are relatable enough for most people to understand. I prefer to take people out of their heads for a second, and make them see my point of view.

Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

Spirits Rising 

Spirits Rising 

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: 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)

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 - traceyking.com / Uta Feinstein uta-feinstein.com /

  Jane Smith janerosesmith.wordpress.com / Tayler Fisher taylerfisher.com

Connie Liebschner  connieliebschner.com / Dave Dent davedentartist.com

Miriam Bean miriambean.comEllysia Bugler ellysiabugler.com

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images 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 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

Taylerfisher.com

Instagram.com/tayler__fisher

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

 

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

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Written by Lucinda Martin at Surface Gallery