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Meet: Nicola Anthony

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Published date 16 June 2015

Nicola Anthony studied Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at Central Saint Martins in 2003.  She has been working as an artist ever since, and was recently selected to create a sculpture for the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. She used 10,000 ping pong balls, each inscribed with a wish from 5000 students, teachers, families, the public, folk back home in the UK, and even Singapore’s beloved national table tennis players…

Ouroboros for the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore

Nicola with the sculpture ‘Ouroboros’

What made you decide to come to London and study Art & Design?  And what specifically interested you about Central Saint Martins?
London is the hub of the creative world, where many cultures, subcultures and a deep history infuse the city. I had visited the degree shows many times and just felt drawn to CSM.

Did it help you prepare for life after graduation?
Training was intense, as is London and the art world. It taught me to constantly push myself and be proactive. Living in London also gave me the ability to adapt to life in other cities where I have lived and travelled – currently Singapore.

What tips would you give to new students preparing to study the degree at CSM?
Use the course to its fullest.  Grab every opportunity you can to learn and gain new skills while you have the space, tutors and equipment at your fingertips.

What was the most important thing you did after graduation?
I got my own space in London, and then I made the decision to ignore the competitive and cagey side of the art world and instead approached it in an open manner. I am always happy to help other artists in their practice and careers, and so I am surrounded by a supportive network who will also help and advise me.

Six Thousand Moments at EX PARTE

Six Thousand Moments at EX PARTE

Tell us about your career highlights so far, and how your sculpture came to be commissioned for the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games…
I’ve been creating large works in Asia, as well as working with the human voice – often doing opening calls for my Word Collection or inviting select communities to become the subject of the artwork. For this sculpture the SEA Games wanted to get that human voice across, so they invited me to propose an idea. I think the fact that I wanted to do something slightly mad with Ouroboros – work with over 5000 individuals, and use 10,000 ping pong balls as material convinced them it was extraordinary enough to represent the SEA games!

I’m also showing in an exhibition on Brick Lane opening this week on 18th June – EX PARTE – which is selected by curator Annie Jael Kwan to showcase key artists who work in the UK and Singapore. For me this is great recognition and a poignant link between my two worlds. For the first time ever I am presenting quite a personal work where the subject is the journey between my two homes.

Next year I have been invited on the NPE residency in Asia, which is a collaboration with a printing factory. I hope to use the time to develop some ideas that have been infusing on the back burner.

Who/What is your greatest inspiration?
There are so many. Being inspired is important. I like to learn from the passion and spirit of others from the Art world and further afield – I watch a lot of TED talks!

It sounds clichéd, but my first inspiration to become a professional artist was the Young British Artists show. I read a lot about them and the way their careers came about, I saw that they were able to create unconventional pieces.

Anything else exciting to mention?
Actually I’ll be giving a talk in London at 2pm on Saturday so do come to find out more about a new work called Six Thousand Moments at EX PARTE.  I hand collected and hand numbered 6000 seeds in Asia. Each number relates to an entry in the archive of seed memories, a log of the moments in which each was collected. The audience are invited to pick up a seed to keep, thereby sharing those stories with me.  You can watch a video about the exhibition here.