"In March 2017 Richard Starzak (known as Golly) of Aardman and Shaun the Sheep fame bought one of my paintings. He very kindly sent me the drawing on the left which shows clearly that this is a sheep with much talent.
I have found a lot of inspiration from sheep and have a few living near me as neighbours. However none has yet shown much interest in painting. Whilst a quick glance at a field of sheep can give the impression that they are all pretty much alike I have learnt that each one has a very distinct personality if you spend any time getting to know them.
We share our planet with many kinds of sentient creatures and they all appear to live lightly on its surface. My work tries to reflect this way of being and I think Shaun shares similar artistic goals."
Nicola Slattery 1st April 2017
'Peaceful Pollinators' - featured in the April/May 2021 issue of the Norfolk Magazine and in the "Elements of Nature" exhibition at Mandell's Gallery, Norwich in June 2021.
"I want to draw attention to the loss of insects - they do a vital job helping to feed us by making flowers grow by transfering pollen from one flower to another. It's a lot of hard work. We need them but they are fast disappearing"
Nicola Slattery RBA 2021
Wild Imagination at the Fosse Gallery October 2023
Growing up in the 1970’s, surrounded by Coventry’s concrete architecture, many childhood hours were spent living in my imagination. Whether watching black and white films, reading a book or playing make believe with siblings and friends, all helped provide alternative worlds and some sort of escapism. Along with countless other children I searched for Narnia at the back of the wardrobe. When I first read Albert Einstein’s attributed quote I immediately understood: “Logic will get you from A to B but imagination can take you anywhere.”
Leaving Coventry after graduating art school I moved to Oxford and joined a community of artists which included the Oxford Art Society. I moved to Norfolk in the mid 1990’s and rural life began with cats, dogs, hens, geese, vast open skies, lanes, fields, hedgerows and children. I love living in the countryside, encountering wildlife from butterflies to hares, foxes and wild deer. I believe they all belong as much as I do. The allure of a city will occasionally arise but a visit to Norwich, London, Oxford or Manchester will have the city girl in me ready to return to the green lanes around my village.
Imagination is at the heart of my work. ‘Wild Imagination’ is a collection of recent paintings in which imagined people and places coexist in harmony with their environment and the animals, objects and features of their surrounds. The familiar and the mysterious are combined into images that I want to exist, even if only in the imagination. Images of mankind’s inhumanity to fellow man, animals and the planet fill our screens. When I paint I want to create images that are some kind of antidote to our screens and which lead our imagination towards more hopeful futures. Nature provides endless inspiration. I want my works to live with people who feel uplifted when they see them and perhaps find inspiration to act, in however small a way, for the good of our planet.
I paint on wooden panels or board using acrylics. I’m drawn to colours of the natural world, greens, blues, ochres and reds. Artistic influences range from the unattributed medieval works of anonymous nuns through to the Dutch Golden Age, Rousseau, Chagall, Spencer and the many folk artists whose names are now lost or forgotten. My love of naïve art gave me respect for breaking some of the rules of perspective, light and so on, leaving me free to focus on mood, emotion and ideas. I was in my mid 20’s when I first encountered the work of “the king of narrative” Mick Rooney RA and have admired his work since. He allows his imagination to drive his distinct and prolific work. It is a source of great satisfaction to exhibit a substantial body of my own recent work in the same gallery he is associated with. Nicola Slattery RBA October 2023
Stories without Words
In my early career as an artist much inspiration was drawn from stories and mythology. Over the years my work has retained its figurative narrative elements but I think has developed a subtler, less literal approach. Whilst the narrative continues to shape ideas, the influences are more personal.
Living in the countryside, I am privileged to encounter the wonders it has to offer on a day to day basis. Chattering, swooping swallows or the nocturnal shriek of an owl in the large Oak tree outside my window, have the ability to conjure up images through sound. I see the big Norfolk skies, the tangled brambles, ponds full of lilies fruit blossom, cut corn fields and distant church spires. The environment seeps into my consciousness and meets with imagined characters and situations. Images came to mind which might be of stories not yet told. The American painter Edward Hopper once said “If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint” and I feel an affinity with his outlook.
“Stories without Words” is an exhibition of my paintings completed over the past three years. Each work is a story presented through the medium of paint and the viewer is invited to enter the story through their imagination. There is no right or wrong interpretation. A response to a painting may often be ambiguous and change over time as life presents new experiences and insights. Ultimately I want to present positive images of an imagined humanity able to live harmoniously with its environment and fellow creatures. To misquote John Lennon: “some might say artists are dreamers, but we are not the only ones...”
Nicola Slattery RBA October 2020
Stories without Words at The Fosse Gallery, Stow on the Wold. 4th to 24th October 2020
A few years ago I took part in a survey on how artists make a living. After answering questions on sources of income and expenditure it ended with a request for any other comment on being an artist.
This is what came to mind:
"I cannot imagine not being an artist. It is a part of my life like being a mother or being a wife. It pays the bills - well some of them, and it enables me to communicate with people through a visual language which I could never do verbally. It is hard for me to describe in words ( maybe that's why I create images ) but for me creating art is what I do - its like breathing or talking to people or washing up or brushing my teeth.. its just what I do as part of my life and I enjoy it."
Nicola Slattery March 2016
"An Israeli "Hakomi" Therapist (see below) who uses my images on her web site once told me that she thought my work had aspects of "Metta". Being unfamiliar with the term I looked it up and was pleased to see in the definition the concept of "loving kindness" with origins in the Buddhist traditions. I do not actively practice any religion but I do hope she is correct about my work. I very much believe there should be more "loving kindness" in the universe and if I can add some small atom of it to this planet, then I will be pleased.
In my early career as an artist I took much of my inspiration from stories, myths and legends. Over the years my work retained its figurative narrative elements but became much less literal. Images came to mind which someone said were perhaps images of stories not yet told. Increasingly people tell me they see aspects or resemblences of family in my work. This is not a conscious or deliberate thing. I do wonder if my mind wanders off on its own, finds an image and brings it back to me in the way a child wanders off and picks some flowers then returns with them, to offer up to a grateful parent. I'm certainly grateful for the images my mind brings me from its wanderings.... I guess the the unconscious mind is a mysterious and wonderful thing. "
Nicola Slattery January 2016
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