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Confetti - Do It For Real


27 August 13 words: Rachel Elderkin
From yarn bombing to sculptures that talk on twitter – EM13 is here

EM13 Participants (Image: Safiya Williams)

EM13 Participants  (Image: Safiya Williams)

The biggest event in the Surface Gallery calender is currently taking place. EM13 will see selected graduates from universities across the region participate in a residency at the gallery, culminating in a two week exhibition which will present a new body of work to the public. This annual event was originally developed by Surface gallery volunteers and EM13 will be the fifth East Midlands Graduate Project to take place.

EM13 aims to support talented new graduates as they make the transition from university into the professional art world. This year’s graduates come from NTU and Nottingham University, Loughborough and Lincoln. While most of the graduates are starting out as artists, some have already taken part in exhibitions at galleries and venues throughout the UK and Europe, including London, with others even further afield. Selected by the team at Surface these artists are evidently a talented bunch and with a diverse range of practices between them they look set to produce an exciting new exhibition.

EM13 will cover a multitude of mediums from painting and sculpture to the more recent practice of yarn bombing. The artists involved are full of ideas and their work incorporates a variety of styles and influences. Christopher Bagnall and Rosie Fraser-Dickson are both painters but their work couldn’t be more contrasting in style. While Rosie works in great detail, creating portraits inspired by urban life, Chris takes a more abstract approach, using large canvases and layers of paint. A number of the artists also work with sculpture, including Shelly MacDonald who is creating an undeniably unique family with some rather complex relations. In contrast Miz Nakaishi’s sculpture will take its cue from nature working on a minute scale which will guarantee you take a second look.EM13 logo

There will also be work by Sumiko Eadon that explores the relationship between the moving image and print, as well as sculpture by David John Scarborough that addresses questions about the place of art within the digital world. Taking a rather different approach is Hannah Drury who will be using performance art to engage both her fellow artists and members of the public in the act of drawing. To add yet further variety Sophie Mutch works in crotchet and soft sculpture. Her knitting is underway and she has hinted that some yarn bombing may be hitting the streets of Nottingham – keep an eye out!

While all the graduate artists involved were selected for the residency they each have their own reasons for wishing to take part. For many it is a chance to have a space to work in and to create a new body of work; ‘we’re all in the same boat, we all want to be artists and we’re all trying to take that first step’. As Surface Gallery was originally set up by NTU graduates it has always aimed to offer a supportive environment for graduates and this particular group of new artists feel it is great to be a part of that. Their practices may differ, but they all agree that EM13 is a good opportunity to experience working within a gallery and to be around other artists with whom they can discuss their ideas and get feedback on their work.

While the exhibition they are working towards may only be on for two weeks, their residency is already underway. To the artists this creation period is as important as the final exhibition itself. During EM13 Surface Gallery will be opening this process up to the public. These residency ‘open days’, taking place on three Saturdays throughout the project, will offer a chance to view the work as it develops, meet the artists and ask questions. The artists are looking forward to sharing this process with the public, ‘it is a chance for people to see the process and understand how our work has developed but it is also a chance for us to get feedback during the creative process, which is really important’.

While each artist is working on an individual project EM13 also provides an opportunity to work collaboratively, with the artists joining together over the residency to share ideas and curate their final exhibition. Only a few of the artists have worked together before and it is the next few weeks that will decide the shape of the final show. However, if their enthusiasm and diversity of practice is anything to go by it seems that, whatever these artists produce, the final exhibition will be well worth a visit.

The EM13 residency will be running at Surface Gallery from 19 August to 14 September. The open days will take place on the following Saturdays:

Saturday 24 August, 11am - 5pm 
Saturday 31 August, 11am - 5pm 
Saturday 7 September, 11am - 5pm

The final exhibition will be showing from 17 September. Free entry.

Artist’s websites:

Christopher Bagnall:
Rosie Fraser-Dickson:
Hannah Drury: -
Miz Nakaishi:
Sumiko Eadon:
Shelley MacDonald:
Sophie Mutch:
David John Scarborough:


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