A blank canvas is the usual means by which an artist begins their creations; an entire blank room therefore presents an unusual and exciting challenge. This was the case in June, when artists David Brideman, Kaitlyn Elphinstone and Nickola McCoy were presented with bare walls, floor and ceilings at the National Gallery, as part of the Gallery’s second residency programme and exhibition, entitled A Day in the Life II. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.
The artists’ brief was to create an exhibition over a two-week period, under the constant gaze of the passing public and with total freedom to explore any subject matter they desired.
Nickola McCoy is a well-established local artist and is part of the Native Sons group of artists promoting local artistic talent in Cayman. Nickola has presented her edgy modern approach to art at a number of exhibitions across the island in recent years. Her exhibition at A day in the Life II is aptly named ‘Edge’ and is the fruits of two weeks worth of intense and perhaps even heart-wrenching labour, with a collection of hard-hitting paintings and one installation piece, a collection of doves suspended from the ceiling.
Nickola says she prepares for her artistic endeavours by first putting on her protective clothing she always wears to paint. “It’s a bit like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak,” she explains. “When I paint in my art clothes I am locked in my own world and the world around me doesn’t really register!”
She explains her installation piece: “My doves installation comprises of hundreds of doves that were originally portrayed flying out of a base of acrylic paint, soaring upwards and outwards from the paint and hence the paint splatters on the lowest doves,” she explains. “Unfortunately the acrylic base was accidentally thrown away, but you still get the gist of the doves being released in some way.”
Cleverly located over an air conditioning vent, her doves sway and flutter in the rush of air, almost as if the breeze is aiding their escape.
Each dove was lovingly cut from paper and stuck onto string.
“It took forever to cut out all the doves,” Nickola admits, “but the repetition of the action was actually quite therapeutic!”
Nickola says the movement of the air through the piece gives “a whole different vibe” to the work.
Her paintings are all filled with Nickola’s trademark thickly applied acrylic paint, which adds vibrancy and colour as well as texture to her pieces.
“I love working in acrylic,” she says. “It dries so quickly, which is so important for me as I had about seven paintings all on the go at the same time for this exhibition!”
The end result is a series of paintings that display a high level of fluidity, almost as if they run into each other.
“I am interested to hear viewer’s opinions on the paintings individually,” she wonders. “Individually I think some show form and some show a lack of form, but together I think they display a cohesiveness which achieves my goal – to try and make sense out of the chaos and clutter in life! I feel a real sense of peace with this exhibit.”
Read more on Kaitlyn and David’s work next month.