Take Five with Nicola Anthony
Nicola Anthony is a visual artist based between Dublin and Singapore, and an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. In recent years she has completed three artist residencies, had a solo show at Singapore Art Museum, exhibited in the Kuala Lumpur Biennale, been invited to install public sculptures in Singapore and Los Angeles, and received accolades and recognition for her work. In 2018 she was invited by Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation to create a permanent sculpture in their public entrance. She has been practicing for fifteen years and created exhibitions and commissions for art institutions and cultural foundations in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Myanmar, USA, UK, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. She studied at Loughborough University in the UK and Central Saint Martins, (UAL).
Using fire techniques on paper and metal alongside an innate ability to transform words into messages of profundity, her work is a journal of a thousand souls. She collects human testimonies, empowering and transforming them into contemporary art. From the playful to the heart-wrenching, each artwork is shaped by the narrative it contains.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
Sometimes being an artist is a little like being an explorer. I am hooked on finding out about new things through my art, learning other peoples stories, memories and secrets, which often become the subject of the next artwork. Having a great excuse to go to all the exhibitions and be surrounded by inspirational work is rather nice too.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
Louise Bourgeois. Her artwork sticks in your head, and sometimes forces you to step into it, the physical experience is mysterious, unspoken, and with the tension of her family memories wrapped up in each piece. I admire her for being such a strong, determined artist, and for daring to be different. Most of all, I respect that she created such an eclectic body of work - she was not afraid to try new things and depart from the comfortable ‘niche’ that many artists can get stuck in.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
That setting yourself up as an artist is essentially setting up a one-person company. It’s tough to do, and even more difficult if, like many artists, you float out of your university studio and don’t realise this fact! As soon as I started to learn from the business world as well as the art world, I found it much easier to work with (and not begrudge) the fact that there are many elements of life as a creative that take you away from just doing the creative bit. I have always felt that this need not (and should not) change your creative nature - it can be an amazing complement to it.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
I have recently started a new process by embracing digital. I am a real ideas person, but my timing is all wrong. The inspiration usually comes at an inopportune moment, all at once, or not at all when I need it! I love the blogging process, so, I have started using a non-public blog to jot down any inspirations or thoughts that come to me. It’s like a sketchbook really, but one that is very useful as a very searchable catalogue of thoughts and snippets of inspiration. This serves as an amazing tool to rekindle my creative process when I get stuck - I can find previous ideas or brainstorms around the issue, or just pick a starting point at random.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
Something highly patterned like the amazing Yayoi Kusama polka dot shoes - they seem to possess some kind of magical power, or at least a vivid imagination that would lead to many adventures!