In the first of a monthly series of articles each featuring one of the artists who exhibit with www.localartist.org.uk we talked to the latest artist to join us, Nickola McCoy. Her biography may be viewed by visiting the Artists page. Here, we hope give you some insight into Nickola's thinking as an artist and to throw some light onto what makes her produce her paintings. We would like to thank Nickola for her frankness in participating in this article.
Question: When did you first discover you had artistic ability and can you remember your first attempts; what medium did you use; do you still have them?
Answer: I cannot truly say when I first discovered that I had artistic ability. I've always been one to draw and colour and escape the world around me by using any means or objects I could find in order to scribble, paint, spray, etch, piece together and take apart stuff. I was in an orphanage from the age of five, with my other siblings who numbered three. I was the oldest, so I had to look after the others. I rarely had time between changing pampers and feedings. But, whenever I had time, I would find myself scribbling, or colouring with whatever I could get my hands on. I was in the orphanage until I was 14 years old. I remember, as I got older, doing scenes of lions and tigers in the deserts, even though I had only seen them in my dreams and read about them in books. I also got very into heavy metal, which led to me doing drawings of nude blonds with lethal looking breasts, that I sold to neighbourhood boys and to my vanishing and reappearing dad, who once gave me a $100 for a drawing of the Sex Pistols, naked, Smith and Wesson Riding Girl. That, I guess, was the first time that I had the awareness that I may have had a talent. I do not have any of the first works that I ever did at that age. The first media I remember using were crayons, and pencils.
Question: Who or what is your biggest influence and why?
Answer: Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky would have to be my biggest influence of the Masters, but my true inspiration comes from lesser internationally known artists in my home country of Grand Cayman. Starting with Randy Chollette, Gordon Solomon, Al Ebanks, Wray Banker, Horacio Eateban, Christopher Christian, Lues Bodden and Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette. These people are known as the Native Son's of the Cayman Islands. I am also a member of this elite group of artists. The works of these artists continue to break new grounds and continue to form the standards that the up and coming artist of my Island will have as guides to their future. The body of works done by each artist in the group is unique and individual: yet there is an undercurrent of commonality and simplicity that ties it into the human fabric for each individual who sees a show, whether it is a group or solo show of one or all of the members. So the answer in short to whom my influence past and present would be Pablo Picasso, and Wassily Kindinsky, Past Masters and The Native Son's Group, Present and Future Masters. The reasons that they are all equal is because I am always moved to become better than I am, and to continue to learn new and better ways in order to express myself through art. This singular factor makes them all equal.
Question: Can you remember the first time you attempted a serious work and, if so, what was it?
Answer: The first piece of serious work I attempted would have to have been for the Cayman Islands Visual Arts Society's Annual Art Exhibition in 1994. Although I had been doing small drawings for people before that, I never took it seriously. The pieces were called 'Blu' and I did a series of five. It was my first entry into the VAS and the public eye. The Blu series were of women in a series of positions in flight. They were acrylic on canvas, and were painted in blue and white acrylic. This opportunity presented me with my first public sale of five pieces of my work.
Question: Have you ever thrown away or destroyed any of your work and did you ever feel you had little or no talent at all?
Answer: Yes! Yes! and Yes! I have thrown away a lot of my work: as a matter or fact I cannot look at my work for weeks and weeks after I think a piece is finished. If I do, I have the strongest urge to throw it away or tear it up. I recently sold a number of pieces to a collector. At the end of the month I went back to him and told him I wanted to buy them back. The reason I wanted them back was because I felt that they were not good enough and that he would eventually figure this out. He told me that I could not, as they were already worth double what he paid for them since they were now a part of his collection, and that I could not afford to pay him what he would ask. I had wanted to destroy them all. I do fight daily with the demons of art destruction and self doubt about my talent. But there is something that drives me also, a feeling that if I ever stopped I would die.
Question: From where do you draw your inspiration: does it vary?
Answer: My inspiration comes from the life I live, and the lives that are around me. From day to day I never know what I will see and how it will affect me. For example, I may see the same people everyday as I walk down the street whether it is here in England or on the island but each day they are wearing different clothing, or maybe someone is wearing the same thing for a number of days, these things are inspiring, because it also changes the moods around me, the setting is different but yet familiar.
There is the beginning of wars and the end of wars; that also changes the atmosphere for not only you but the entire world and how you view it. I draw inspiration from feelings, from dreams, from life. And from day to day it varies, sometimes a lot sometimes not.
Question: If you could command a commission for someone or somewhere for whom or what would you choose it to be?
Answer: If I could command a commission for someone, it would be for U.S. President, George W. Bush. It would have to be for the White House. It would be an installation featuring THE STARVING CHILDREN OF AMERICA, and the amounts of money that has been spent on wars and weapons, to bring PEACE to the world while there is no peace, and no food in his own home AMERICA. The installation would feature the innocent blood of the young who have to now live in this world without mothers and fathers because of war, and the need to free the world. I also believe that I would have to be that Artist because I think I feel strongly enough about the subject that I would be able to convey the emotions in which I feel, the best. I have done such a piece. It was displayed in the National Museum of the Cayman Islands. The title was "In the Name of Peace". They were asked to take it down as the controversial nature of the piece was causing too much provocation with the visiting "US Tourist". It was eventually moved by the hurricane "Ivan". It was destroyed.
Another artist will be featured in our next article to follow in November.