Hi Nicky, tell me a little bit about yourself- where you’re from, where you grew up, and how you became and interested in art and photography?
Hello! I’m an artist and curator living on Teesside in the United Kingdom. I grew up in the suburbs of North East England. It’s a tough town at times but it has a certain charm and eccentric quality to it which I appreciate and the coast, hills and moors are only a stone’s throw away. I have always been compelled to create – I used to orchestrate photo shoots with my dolls and cat – put a bonnet on him and a tea cup near his paw. I called them set-up’s. I also used to design shoes and dresses and make rose petal perfume and design labels for the bottles. I was always up to something.
The world of fashion is full of amazing artists and photographers. Who are some of your favorites?
Annette Messager, Sophie Calle, Susan Hiller, Miranda July, Tim Walker, Madame Yevonde, Guy Bourdin, Mike Brodie (Polaroid Kidd), Ellen Von Unwerth & Nina Büsing Corvallo. Not all fashion based but some of my favourites.
And who are your favorite designers?
I have loved the work of John Galliano since the 1980’s and rarely use the word genius but might in this instance. It’s obviously not a fashionable time to be a fan of him in light of recent personal events, but for me – his design work is flawless. Lately, I am loving Haider Ackermann and the sculptural pieces at Jil Sander – as I get older, my tastes are shifting from the cute and dreamy aesthetic into a sharper, tougher look. I spent the whole of my 20’s in vintage dandelion yellow day dresses it seems – but I just can’t pull that look off anymore!
Your work reminds me of my childhood. In your work there is feeling of something very sweet, innocent and dark at the same time. Do you often look towards childhood memories when photographing or drawing?
Absolutely. Almost all of my work is inspired by my childhood. I spent a lot of time away from school as a child and quickly fell in love with the notion of living in my own world. It was a kind of twilight existence where I had enough freedom to experiment and create as I pleased. I spent hours watching 1950’s Technicolor movies, drawing my cat, designing letter headed notepaper for an imaginary perfume empire, making my own magazines or incense and spells and listening to Kate Bush and pretending I was a teenager. When I became an artist I knew right away that the feeling I was trying to evoke was that feeling. The feeling I had when I was trying to summon some kind of magic for myself, to keep me entertained or comforted or to pretend that my life was something other than a sick little girl at home with permanent tonsillitis. It is important for me that there is always a certain kind of darkness – it makes the light all the more beautiful. I make images but I feel more like a storyteller.
Tell me about the work you did for Lula magazine.
Leith asked me to contribute to a photo editorial in the first issue, it grew from there and I worked on 5 issues. I was an artist-in-residence I guess...that always how I approached it. My role was to interpret the muses from each issue and create imagery that reflected them, through photography or assemblage and illustrations usually. I liked to imagine what the muse’s personal space might look like and create an atmosphere through the use of objects or images...to tell a story about them or create a fictitious landscape for them.
When the first issue got delivered to my house, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be involved in such a thing of beauty. Lula has a very distinctive and clear voice which, in the ephemeral world of fashion, is a brave and treasured thing.
What do you love about living in England?
I love the countryside, English breakfast tea, the wild and windy moors, the down-to-earth people, the dramatic coastlines, the folktales, the eccentrics, the crumbling mansions, stately homes & ruined castles, the humour, the fashion and the fact that all my loved ones live there.
England is known for edgy fashion and eccentric, independent fashion designers. Who are some of your favorite Brits?
My current favourite is Holly Fowler. She’s a recent graduate from Central Saint Martins. She hand paints silk dresses – they’re phenomenal – they look like medieval bronze treasures and porcelain bells – so powerful.
What films do you study for inspiration?
The Red Shoes, Valerie & Her Week Of Wonders, Daisies, Tales Of Hoffman, Innocence, Rosemary’s Baby, vintage Hammer Horror, The Royal Tennenbaums, The Wizard of Oz, Be Glad For The Song Has no Ending, Grey Gardens, Paheli, Picnic At Hanging Rock, Carousel, Cul-De-Sac, Black Moon, Young At Heart, Suspiria...oh this could go on and on so I’d better stop!
If you could have tea with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
Leonora Carrington, Grace Coddington and all her cats, Doris Day, Sophie Calle & Vali Meyers. We would be the best coven ever. I would make English tea and serve lavender scones with wild blueberry jam and clotted cream.
Tell me a little bit about the work of yours that is going to be displayed at Audrey Grace.
Small, delicate photographic prints on my favourite German etching paper. Some of the imaginary stories I was just telling you about...
What could you see yourself buying from Audrey Grace?
I really love Lisa Marie Andersson’s Liberty print dresses and also the gorgeous Wayward Daughter white custom collar with the little pin stripe.
Have you ever been to the south? (in America)
Not yet, though I’ve always wanted to visit. I’m a big fan of Angeliska Polacheck’s blog and her images and descriptions of New Orleans are completely bewitching. It’s definitely on the list.
What does the future look like for you? Any exciting collaborations/projects/exhibits?
Yes, this has been an incredibly busy year for me. I divide my time between working on my own personal practice and curating for myself and others. I also manage and curate a project that provides creatives with temporary pop up residencies in town centre spaces which is one of the loveliest jobs I’ve ever had. Earlier this year I produced my third international exhibition, called Love Letter, Love Letter. I was lucky enough to work with some of my favourite artists on the show: musician Suzy Mangion, film maker Maximilla Lukacs, photographer Dan Estabrook, fine artist Tabitha Kyoko Moses & Minutemen legend Mike Watt – it was a dream to curate a show like this and the book & DVD that accompanied the show will be for sale at Audrey Grace Boutique along with my prints.
Next month sees the release of an album that I worked on with UK collective Detective Instinct. It’s called A History of Headaches and it’s on the Third Uncle label. I have 2 songs on the album and I also contributed to the cover art so I’m really excited to finally see it! I’ve just started work curating a retrospective exhibition and gig for a post-punk outfit called Shrug – who have been together for 26 years...so that will be a whole lot of research!
Next year will see my book Haunt Me finally published – it’s a collection of photographs, drawings, collages and writing along the lines of my blog of the same name. I love being busy so it suits me fine – oh and today I found out that I was chosen as a Video Art Curator at the 2012 Santorini Biennale of Art so I’m a very happy bunny – I’ll get to do what I love and spend the whole summer in the Greek Islands which is kind of dreamy I imagine!
Thank you so much, Nicky!