International Postcard Show: Artist Interview


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.




Twitter @derbyillustrate

Interview by Dominique Mitchell (Writer in Residence)

International Postcard Show: Artist Interview



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



  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

Re:Surface : Interview with the Artist



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

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

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

What will you be exhibiting at Re:Surface?

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

What inspires you to create? 

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


What do you see for you in the future?

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

Keep In Touch

Instagram: dominiquekmitchell

Photo Credit: Sam Lindley

Photo Credit: Sam Lindley

EM:16 Jane Smith

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

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

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

With the name Pulse, how do you relate it?

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

When did you get into sculpting?

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

Were they really supportive or were there growing pains?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you like sharing a space?

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

Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Image by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill

EM:16 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