Nicola Willis

Creatives > Visual Artist > Nicola Willis

The artwork needs to feel sincere and sacred. I have to put in the effort to be quiet and slow. To connect with myself and be present with making, which takes bravery. I think I make art to sing out … the tender aching sweet of the heart. It’s mysterious and when I try to describe what I do in words it often doesn’t express it right.

One thing I create is abstract drawings made up of many small expressive marks. I like how an expressive mark is very voice-like. It feels a bit like calligraphy too. All the marks converse with each other and the paper (or other surface). It’s improvisation and that’s scary and deeply satisfying and I think it produces something very valuable. I am currently creating very large drawings.

I also make sculptural tactile textile art – with hand-dyeing, embroidery, fabric painting and weaving. I really like the emotions expressed by textiles. Another reason I work in textiles is that it is robust enough for people to touch and play with without fear of ruining the artwork – so you can squash or stroke or touch. Small sculptures I make often feel like talismans, friends, parts of myself, characters, guardians.

All of the materials I make the artwork out of are on some level equally precious to me, equally when they’re from factories or handspun from a well cared for sheep or from elements from oils deep in the earth that are made into plastics. Equanimity. All the material memories of love and hardness are whispering. I am experimenting with making dyes and pigments from foraged plants. The memory of the flower held in a textile dyed with foraged plants is refreshing and friendly. Which is good!

I’m trying to value the reality of my creativity, rather than pretending it’s shinier and more professional than it actually is.

I want to contribute artworks to the world which support people in the everyday building rebuilding of emotional health, to connect with the fullness of emotional experience, feeling alive.