If you’ve been following Newsnibbles since its inception way back in 2010, you may recall an interview we did with up and coming artist; Nicola Anthony – where she was making art from words.
Well, Nicola is now an internationally acclaimed artist, working out of Singapore, and has most recently been nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize. She has taken some time out of her busy schedule to pop in for a cuppa and a chat with Badger, and we were absolutely thrilled to see her.
1. What have you been up to since we last spoke to you those many years ago?
Last year I travelled to the dusty streets of Yangon in Myanmar to open my exhibition and I spontaneously took up an artist residency / intervention at the historic Secretariat Building in Yangon. I inserted secret bits of art into crevices in the walls and made gold leaf patterns on unsuspecting surfaces. Last summer I travelled from my home in Singapore to live in Los Angeles while I installed a public sculpture at USCSF. This year I have set up a second studio space in Ireland, which recently adopted two stray kittens who now run fierce security outside the art studio.
2. What does being nominated for this prize mean, for you personally and for women in art as a whole?
Being shortlisted for the second year running is an honour. The prize is selected by rather an illustrious panel of judges, so their acknowledgement means a lot to me. The Sovereign Art Foundation has noticed in recent years the relatively high number of women nominees. When I looked at the numbers last year it was about 50%, which did not strike me as lots, but it was at that point that I was shaken into realising how much of a gender discrepancy there is in the arts – and, even more so in Asia where the gender inequality is much more pronounced. More men are awarded prizes and exhibitions, more trust is placed in a male name, and investigation worldwide has spotted the same old patterns. I had never suspected or expected gender discrimination in the past and so I had not noticed any bias. I started to rethink all those times when it was an epic struggle to get something done or to be listened to as an artist: I had always thought those occasions were because I look young, because I am short, or even to do with race – could it have been because I am a woman? I don’t know, it’s dangerous to speculate. So to answer your question, in the past I would not have thought my nomination meant anything for women in general – but, in the light of the last few years which revealed the little micro aggressions and imbalances that all of us have been blind to, I think it is a little step in the right direction.
3. Talk us through a kinetic light sculpture. What’s that about, then?
Well, kinetic art is art which moves – it’s exciting because you feel like you are making it come alive. I often use motors or clock mechanisms in my work to create cycles and rotation. This started because I am inspired by the moon, sun and stars, and the generations of humans who lived their lives guided by their overhead transit. I think adding light was an extension of that. What I discovered is that shining light behind my sculptures allows the shadows and light projections to be enhanced, and themselves move, shift, elongate and contract on the surface. ‘Reclamation’ is like a shadow show on the surface of a lit up mandala.
4. Where can we go to see your art?
I am represented by Intersections Gallery in Singapore and my work in progress is sometimes open to public at Inkwell studios and of course on my Instagram (if you know the special knock), or you can contact my studio in Dublin. Meanwhile I have permanent sculptures in Singapore and Los Angeles, and later this year in Colorado, visit anytime!
5. What’s next on the agenda?
I am currently working on a new public sculpture – this will be my first permanent outdoor sculpture so it takes a lot more specific attention to materials and the sciencey bit. It will be installed in Aspen, and will be a metal swirl of words of love and Jewish blessings. It is a sculpture about speaking out and about kindness to others.
6. Do you have a favourite badger?
Apparently the Irish badger is called Meles meles, and I have not seen European Badgers for many years as I have been living in Asia. I am really hoping to see a Meles meles this year when I am spending time in Ireland.
7. Would you dress your pet?
I think it’s cruel to dress animals unless they absolutely need it to keep them warm. My opinion is, whether or not your animal seems to like it, it is for the human’s enjoyment and not for the animals and that should be a clue as to whether it is the kind thing to do. Even my two security cats are not asked to wear a uniform. (Rant over.)