"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
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