Surface Gallery is a volunteer-led gallery at the edge of Nottingham city centre just facing the quirky district of Sneinton. The gallery space has recently hosted the East Midlands annual graduate shows, giving a premium site to those fresh artist to showcase their final projects.This year the works of the best 10 talents across the Midlands (NTU, Loughborough and Lincoln universities) were selected by the exhibition team to give those fresh artists-to-be room to express their academic statements.
The curatorial team did a really great job in allowing the artists to get together and decide themselves how to display their own work; this is how EM12 came to be as a simple yet thoughtful dialogue between the graduates in sharing a common space.
Monday 20th November, the last day of the show, perfectly ended with some of the artists giving a walk and talk to explain and inform the audience on their choices behind their artwork.
Standing in the middle of the gallery was the delicate installation Hanging Dandelion Seeds, a pristine and very carefully planned rain of cotton dandelion seeds hanging from the ceiling. Young graduate James Dann took inspiration from his intimate walks in woodlands by bringing the outdoors indoor.
The use of organic materials highlights his interest in connecting humans with their environmental surroundings. He joked about having his artwork exhibited in a wood, and was not very keen on revealing the time and the effort behind hanging more than 400 dandelion seeds; it is the final natural process what most counts to him.
On the side, the acrylic paintings of Clare Chun-Yu Liu, Taiwanese Humanist who later in life turned to the arts, approached European visual culture with bright colours and striped brushes. Landscape no.1 and Landscape no.3 are part of a series exploring the basic physicality of paintings such as colours, stripes and lines.
Next to these pieces were the photographic portrait pairing John and Shirley by Emma Locke. Working with elderly subjects challenges contemporary photography which too often portrays either models or young individuals. The close up of a husband and wife‘s shocking facial similarities questions ideas about the self and the significance of sharing life moments by using editing techniques as a rebellious photography style.
Alongside the works of James, Claire and Emma, other pieces included Lewis Gaukrodger’s Arlass, Simon Hall’s Liquidation III, Rachael Lawton’s Collection Cluster, Bobby Sayers’ Nottingham Colours/Danny’s Colours and Aislinn Ritchie’s Paper Dancers.
Once again, EM12 has proven to be an effective spotlight on young local creativity made in East Midlands.