Artist Nicola White
Nicola showcased her work in AQM Issue ONE
And now shares her full story with us online
ArtQuench believes in Nicola and her creative way of bringing new life to lost objects.
We share in her passion to inspire the imagination.
Growing up in Cornwall, I spent most of the summer on the beach with my family, and I have always been drawn to the sea. As a child I would sit on the cliffs and imagine the shipwrecks below the swirling waves, the hidden treasures and the stories of the fishermen and sailors. My brother and I would spend hours beach combing, searching for and collecting sea glass and driftwood – and making mermaids and mystical creatures on the sand.
We were fascinated by the worn and bleached wood with old and chipped layers of paint, like nature’s own handmade sculptures. Did they come from a sunken boat, or a once loved piece of old furniture? Who made them? What life did they lead before they were tossed up on the beach? It’s these questions that sent my imagination into delightful daydreams.
I sadly lost my brother at a young age, and my father died 3 years ago, but I still feel their presence when walking along the beach and am sure that they continue to contribute to my creations.
(Matthew and my Dad)
On moving to London 15 years ago, and with the absence of the sea nearby, I was drawn to the River Thames, which runs right through the center of London. The Thames is a river abundant with history and the evidence of this is tossed up on its shores with every tide.
One of my hobbies is mudlarking. (Mudlarking is by the way, searching for objects in the mud along the foreshore of the River Thames. The name derives from the Victorian children who used to search for discarded objects to sell and make a few pennies). With the many civilizations that lived along its banks over the past centuries, there is a wealth of things to be found. We are fortunate that the river is tidal, and every tide is different, leaving different treasures each day for us to find.
The inspiration for my work comes from the sea and the River Thames, the objects I find whilst mudlarking and beach combing, and the people who have previously owned them. I use driftwood, pottery, metal and glass in my art that have been rocked by the tide in the River Thames and the sea, some for well over one hundred years. It is like wakening them from a long sleep in order that they can share their stories and memories by stirring our imagination. These objects for me are evocative of past lives, mysteries and stories that we will never know. They are tangible pieces of history that we can hold and touch – a small link between the past and the present. Though the owners have long disappeared or have moved on, these items still have a story to tell. I love to reincarnate them and give them a new life in a piece of art. Be it a lost toy in a photograph, a fish made from fragments of ancient glass or a collage made with scraps of metal, each piece has it’s own history.
I want people to look beyond the superficial nature of the art and for them to embark upon a journey that explores the history and beauty of the individual fragments from which they are made. My aim is for my art to inspire the imagination.
It is definitely my inner child that enjoys making birds and fish from quirky pieces of glass and wood.
Three artists who I love and whom I greatly admire are Alfred Wallis, a retired Cornish fisherman (1855 – 1942). He started painting in his old age, and being very poor, he would paint on whatever materials he could find. He painted extremely naively like a child, and this childlike simplicity is something that many people tried to emulate and still do – only , as his artwork was genuinely and sincerely childlike, it was and is very difficult to copy! In his own words, his subjects were “what use to bee out of my memery what we may never see again”.
I am also extremely inspired by Guy Taplin, who see’s beauty in a piece of discarded wood and sculpts it into beautiful birds and fishes. He collects driftwood along the Essex coast in England. When asked how he managed to create such beauty from old wood he famously said “you get a bit of wood, and you chop off anything that doesn’t look like a duck.”
Margaret Mellis (1914 – 2009) is also another St Ives Artist whom I greatly admire. Late in her, in 1980, she started to make constructions out of found pieces of driftwood. She has created some beautiful collages.
This story would not be complete if I did not add that I owe a great deal of my inspiration to the greatest creator I know. Yes, that’s right – God, did I mention him?
I am a fan of anyone who sees something old, broken and discarded and can give it a new life through turning it into a piece of art.
To View more of my work go to..
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Enter in this month’s Art Competition “All Living Things”
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coming in Dec. 2014
(All entries in all AQG art competitions from June – November 2014 will automatically entered to win the cover of AQM)