Studio Visit with Nicola Woodcock
Living and working on the edge of Ku-Ring -Gai Chase National Park has strongly influenced Nicola Woodcock's work. Australian Native flora provides endless inspiration with it’s unique colour, structure and natural patterns. Her most recent body of work heading to The Corner Store Gallery for FIRST CUT features stunning still life drawings of Australian Natives, both foraged and bought.
I’ve been a huge fan of Nicola’s work ever since I laid eyes on a piece submitted to our BLUE Group Exhibition in 2018. Her generous application of oil pastels in deliberate, directional strokes captivated me. Nicola’s still life drawings are alive with colour and texture. I was lucky enough to visit Nicola at her home studio in Terrey Hills earlier this week to watch her work. I found it fascinating to watch the magic unfold. A vase of banksias was today’s subject, a quick sketch on board is the first step, then layer upon layer of gray oil pastels are built up to create the effects of shadow and light.
Nicola’s studio is a cosy room at the back of her home with large glass doors providing beautiful natural light and shadows, perfect for her compositions. Just across the courtyard an almost-finished studio in the making awaits. This detached room is completely flooded with sunlight providing a heavenly artist environment for Nicola to inhabit in the near future.
Pre-sales for FIRST CUT open on Monday May 20th at 8pm via our online store. The exhibition is on display from May 22nd to June 1st with the Official Launch on Friday May 24th form 6pm, we’d love to see you there.
Tell us a little about your background, how long have you been making art?
From as early back as I can remember I've had a pencil or some drawing implement in my hands. I'm originally from the UK and I studied Art at school until I was 18, I was always in the Art Room - it was my happy place. But I didn't pursue a creative career at that point, studying for a degree in French and European Studies and then travelling and working in various Book Publishing roles. It was only when I was a stay at home mum with my eldest daughter (who is now 12) that I had an urge to create again and started going to a life drawing class. That's when I realised this was what I needed to be doing! After my third daughter started preschool in 2016 I launched myself into a 100 day instagram challenge and things really picked up for me after that.
What is it that attracts you to the subject of native flora?
Being from the UK I find the native flora so fascinating and different to the flowers I grew up with. I love their bold forms and colours.
Your work is so rich, vibrant and tactile. Can you talk us through your process?
I work directly onto wooden panels, using oil pastels and from life. I start with a vase and a sprig of something - often foraged from the places around me. I'm always on the look out for a particularly lush Banksia or Flowering Gum or anything that catches my eye as I walk and drive around the area. I begin with a very rough sketch in pastel just to give me an idea of the edges of the composition, then I start with the subject, not blending or layering but placing colours side by side. The pastels are so chunky that they force me to not fiddle and look for detail but to be bold with my marks and colours. I put the background in last, using it to refine shapes and bring out the negative spaces.
Where do you find inspiration? Have any particular artists influenced your work?
Inspiration is all around me as I walk and drive to school, or just out of the window, or even in the Community Centre car park. I first came to Australia in 1999 as a backpacker and I stayed with an older lady who had a Margaret Preston print in her kitchen. I'd never seen anything like it and it was love at first sight.
Your art career has really come along leaps and bounds recently with solo exhibitions, open studios and artist trails, what’s next for you?
I'm joint coordinator of the Pittwater Artists Trail for the second year with artist Fiona Verity. It's a not-for-profit community of artists who come together to hold exhibitions and open studios and generally raise the profile of artists in the area. Each year we gain new members and we are about to kick off our 2019/20 season with an exhibition in June. Fiona and I are really pleased with the line up this year and I'm excited by the new energy and possibilities to build an arts community in my area. We also support a local charity called One Eighty who work to reduce youth suicide and this year we will be holding an auction of artworks to raise funds to help them to continue their amazing work.