In the studio: Nicole Kelly

Nicole Kelly

27 Apr 2020

During the covid-19 lockdown we will be keeping you updated with new works and insights into our artists’ practice, process & inspiration…

Fill us in on what you are working on at the moment.. either before or during isolation

I’m working on a new series of figurative paintings where the domestic interior, to where we are now confined, becomes a stage for the silent theatrics of human identity; housing our anxieties, fears, hopes and the raw, honest, frustrated dualistic selves.
The work I am exploring constructs binary feminine spaces inhabited by heroines absorbed in their own inner worlds. The paintings adopt ambiguous points of view to nurture multiple interpretations.
Mirrored reflections stray from reality, screening figures from another time and place. Figures appears weightless, defying perspectival norms and dissolving into surroundings, and others are solid, totemic as if composed of marble or stone. Areas of negative space in the painting are both wounds and respites. The open marks and shattered imagery in the paintings evoke the complexity of human relationships and represent rupture between the internal and external realities, that which is within us, and that which is without.
I am also finishing off my MFA thesis for which received a post graduate scholarship at UNSW .

Being an artist is usually a solitary pursuit – do you have one tip or trick for people who are new to WFH, to stay motivated each day?

My studio time is fixed, and I show up every day. If it is a day where making feels impossible, I sit with the work, read something or write until painting makes more sense. Outside of the studio, I have a strong structure and routine in my life. I wake early and walk first thing daily, I set aside time to research and read and have time dedicated to mental well-being practices such as yoga and meditation. These things priority over general day to day household tasks.

What are you watching, listening to, looking at …

I am currently writing a thesis and this research is dominating much of my watching, listening to, looking at. The artists I am currently looking at are Fiona Lowry, Joan Ross, Daniel Mellor, Michael Armitage and Luc Tuymans…. The list could really go on and on. I’m currently reading WTJ Mitchell’s Landscape and Power, Paul Carter’s Road to Botany Bay and the poetry of Ali Cobby Eckermann. I recently watched Hetti Perkins’ SBS series Art & Soul: Home and Away and a very powerful online-only performance by Congolese artist Faustin Linyekula offered by the Tate.
If there is one good thing, be it personal or in general, that you hope to come out of this, what would it be?

We are living through such uncertainty and for many of us, unprecedented in our lives. I think it is entirely normal and appropriate to feel lost. In the face of such instability and collective anxiety. Personally, I find stability in turning inwards, to practice and to the work I feel compelled to make. Facing work seems to be an emotionally and spiritually sane response, a making sense of in and through materials. Let this pandemic change how we think, see and represent the world.