Surface Galleryis a volunteer-led gallery and studio space situated opposite Sneinton Market in the city’s Creative Quarter. The organisation encourages and nurtures emerging talent and operates distinct exhibitions and community engagement programmes. We are delighted to announce that Surface Gallery will be sponsoring the Nottingham Castle Open 2014, contributing a prize to our impressive list of opportunites by presenting a recipient with a three-week residency in their ‘project space’ that will conclude with an exhibition in the main gallery. It will be the first time they are sponsoring the Castle Open and this is just one of the new ventures Surface Gallery are embarking on.
Having volunteered at Surface Gallery in the past, I was interested to find out what platform they can provide the recipient of this year’s Surface Gallery Prize. On discussing ‘why now?’ with two of Surface Gallery’s Exhibition Coordinators, Holly James and Jez Kirby, Jez explained that “it’s an opportunity to get involved with something quite prestigious with a long history in Nottingham, and we are now making inroads into a lot of different areas that perhaps Surface hasn’t explored before and that will pay deviance, make us stronger, more visible, more attractive to exhibit at.” Establishing Surface Gallery more in the city and utilising Nottingham’s growing network of independent galleries means it can offer artists more by means of exposure and stem subsequent professional relationships within this network.
Part of the recent changes Surface Gallery has undergone is that it will shortly be reopening its project space. The top floor has been used in the past for all manner of uses and it was a real blow when it had to be closed off from the public in 2011. Coordinator Holly describes it as “an urban, fluid space people can do what they want with, people can paint over a bit or make marks and if they want to change it they can, just to keep it more dynamic.” Artist Frank Kent, winner of the Nottingham Castle Open 2011Grand Prize, was the last to undertake a solo residency in this space, prior to showing his work at Nottingham Castle. Signs of his residency still remain. They are determined the space will be unchanged despite it undergoing an upgrade; “we’re not going to do it up we are just going to make it safe [to work in].” These important renovations, funded by the Arts Council, have opened up so many possibilities for Surface Gallery.
On discussing the gallery’s ambition to sponsor the NottinghamCastle Open, Jez affirmed that “It’s a good opportunity to support regional talent, and that basically is what Surface is all about, supporting emerging and mid-career artists.” As well as presenting the winner with a residency and closing exhibition the projects coordinators are eager to involve them in marketing their own show and hosting talks or workshops. These are optional supplements, the prize will be tailor-made, and Surface Gallery will provide the recipient with a prize that best suits their ambitions.
‘We are looking for someone who wouldn’t be intimidated by the size, or can use the size and maybe do something where they challenge themselves and develop on the residency.’ – Holly James
‘Someone that wouldn’t be afraid to push boundaries and do something a bit different. And that’s part of what Surface is, our identity, it’s about being innovative and experimental.’ – Jez Kirby
The Project Space re-opens in September this year, and eight 2014 East Midland based Graduates will be residing in the space together until October 19th, producing work for the annual East Midland Graduate Show, EM14.
Colette Griffin Exhibitions & Visual Arts Assistant Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery