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Nicola Anthony - words, memories, drawings

22 December 2011 Anita Mistry

Nicola Anthony talks to London Calling about 'London Calling', an exhibition in LA's Orange County featuring solely British artists...

London Calling: Can you tell us about the London Calling, LA project, and the name?

Nicola Anthony: Yes, it's a very exciting week for me as the 'London Calling' exhibition opened on Wednesday in the USA. The exhibition centres around the culture and vibrancy of the London and LA scenes, with an undeniably British flavour. The roster of artists reads like a who’s who of the young, London art scene - including Rosie Emerson, Tahnee Lonsdale and Agnetha Sjogren, amongst others.

The name of the show reflects the intrepid group of emerging contemporary British artists from London’s Debut Contemporary gallery (of Notting Hill) who have been invited to exhibit at The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA).

Selected by OCCCA Executive Directors and Curators, the artists were invited to show in this beautiful space known to present cutting-edge artwork since 1980. The roster includes Abigail Box, Agnetha SjogrenAzadeh Fatehrad, Beth Nicholas, Carlos Martyn Burgos, Chantal Powell, Darren MacPherson, Katerina Stavrou, Katrina James, Kimi Wylde, Henry Wood, Joe Cruz, Lloyd Durling, Lyndsay Martin, Masa Suzuki, Nicola Anthony, Rachel Noble, Rosie Emerson, Robert West, Senghye Yang, Silvia Krupinska, Sylvia Morgado, Sun Ae Kim, Tinsel Edwards, Tahnee Lonsdale, Twinkle Troughton, Victoria Heald, and Vikram Kushwah.

LC: ... and how did you become involved?

NA: Well, the exhibition came out of a previous show I took part in with 12 other London artists when I was in LA last, which is where we were spotted by OCCCA. They were excited by the artwork and creativity they saw coming out of London and decided to work with the gallery we are represented by, Debut Contemporary, in order to hand pick more artists to represent the London art scene.
 
The September exhibition placed our artwork alongside some of LA’s leading artists, curators and art industry heavyweights - which attracted attention for London artists from the likes of LACE of Hollywood Boulevard and MOCA amongst other galleries from the buzzing Los Angeles art scene. London seems a hot topic in LA and the OC!

LC: What kind of work are you submitting to this show?

NA:I have had 3 pieces selected, one sculptural piece and two drawings from a body of work I have created using only one drawing tool - an inked date-stamp. (The type you would stamp an old library book with).

For these drawings, I was investigating the idea that it's those little things – the moments, happenings and memories - that shape us or define us. So these artworks are about the imprint of these moments on who we are. The moments that define us. I have built up the delicate portraits using the date stamp as a mark making tool, and the main piece is titled ‘Mneme’,(named after the Greek muse of memory).

LC: There is a strong literary influence in your work, turning words and stories into sculpture. Where do these come from; are there definite literary references?

NA: I work a lot with words and statements, stories taken from literature as well as secrets and statements that I collect from visitors to my exhibitions and website. These I tend to use as inspiration for my work, or more often as the material from which it is (physically) made. By this I mean that I use the words and sentences to structure the work, I start applying them as marks and drawing with them as lines.
 
For example, the sculptural piece I have in the London Calling show is made from a water-damaged copy of 'David Copperfield'. I decided to renew this epic Dickens novel by cutting away the damaged sections to reveal a new story existing within the same text. I made the artwork ‘David Copperfield’ by carefully carving away words until I reached a page where the next word fitted within the sentence, and so, word-by-word, a new, haphazard and eccentric story was revealed. This seemed very fitting with the fact that David Copperfield is a book with lots of settings, sub-stories, changing relationships and changing identities.

LC: What do you think sets British artists apart from other nationalities?

NA
: The UK has always been one of the world's major centres for art. London is the place of many artistic firsts, where the eyes of the art world are ever watching. We have a tendency to rip up the rulebook, pioneer new ways of working, invade unusual spaces with our creativity and make work that reflects the world around us. There is a lot of talent and individuality, and I think it helps that Britain has such a rich cultural history combined with the diversity of culture in modern Britain.
 
LC: With this project you and other artists have taken on the job of promoting the London art scene overseas. Do artists have to do more to get recognised?

NA
: We are in a period of dramatic economic, social and technological change. There is a lot of talent in the art world, but in our climate of limited art funding, artists are loosing the financial opportunity and the space in which things become possible, and where new ways of thinking and being can be actualised or recognised.

For this USA exhibition, the artists have taken it upon themselves to promote and raise the profile of the London art scene overseas. We are working collaboratively to come up with creative solutions, opposing the diminution of diversity in art, and extending the reach of UK arts: Artists empowering themselves to create their own opportunities.
(Find out more on the fundraising platform and Etsy art shop.)

LC: Tell us about the piece you had exhibited at Tate Modern. Were you nervous?

NA
: Not too nervous! It was great fun and a very interactive project - I was involved in the 'No Soul For Sale' exhibition and festival at Tate Modern last year, which showcased artists who contribute to the international art scene by inventing new strategies for the distribution of information and new modes of participation. I produced a sculptural book that was exhibited in the exhibition space at the gallery, and some pieces which were part of the festival 'marketplace' installation in the Turbine Hall.
 
LC: Who’s work are you into at the moment, art, books, film, theatre?

NA
: Oh too many to say! Yes a combination of artists, books and theatre, but most directly the work of some particular artists: Yayoi Kusama and her amazing polka dot sculptures, Thomas Hirschhorn and his monumental installational collages, Miroslaw Balka and his powerful artworks, Cildo Meireles' seductive and intriguing environments, and of course Cornelia Parker and Cerith Wyn Evans. I loved the recent Gerhard Richter exhibition in London. I also have a lot of respect for some of the American contemporary sculptors such as Tara Donovan who I discovered at the Pace Gallery, or Teresita Fernandez - who uses materials and forms that make the eye’s journey over her work an exquisitely tactile, haptic experience. I work with a lot of London's producing theatres so I'm very inspired by their productions. I enjoy the crossover between performance and art.
 
 
LC: What are your plans for 2012, what projects will you next be working on?

NA
: I am currently busy creating a new sculpture for 2012, to be unveiled in January in the Serpentine Gallery project space.  It's an exhibition with another very exciting London group, 'The Fabelist', running from 27 Jan- 3 Feb and part of the 'Imprint' cultural festival in Church Street. Watch this space!


 

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