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November 3, 2015-January 3, 2016

A fusion of the beautiful and the haunting. A collection of mixed media drawings and painted pieces, with the subconscious and the Gothic called upon. Nicholson’s work is generated using the process of automatic drawings explored by Andre Breton. Much of her work is inspired by gothic literature and 20th-century music, including – Black Sabbath, The Doors and Nick Cave. A dip into the contemporary depths of Psychedelic Trance. 

LAUNCH NIGHT: Friday 13th November 8pm

Who is Joanna Nicholson?

I graduated from Croydon College studying a Ba Hons Fine Art in 2012, since then I have carried on developing themes I started to explore in my final year of studies. I always use Untitled drawing (2)an improvisational drawing technique as an instigator for starting each piece. The ‘Pope’ of Surrealism, Andre Breton defined this as Automatic drawing and writing in his manifesto –

‘…directly accessing the subconscious.’(*1) 

The title of this exhibition refers to this technique, along with my reading of 19th century Gothic literature, such as: The Yellow Wallpaper, Les Chants de Marldoror and Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. My interest in Gothic revival alternative clothing and costumes has influenced the imagery in the work, such as:-skulls, ornate patterns and strange invented figures.

The Urban Dictionary describes the Gothic as:
‘A word generally used in relation (to) the macabre or other dark elements.’(*2)

The theatricality and romanticism appeals to me which I try to capture in each piece of work, through using powerful colours and skulls motifs. A skull can suggest both life or death, a human element or punk sensibility, a common image in contemporary fashion and culture- both beautiful and grotesque-.

12314664_340726186051120_3659312588341633354_oI work in a range of media, making mixed media pieces usually. Combining acrylic and oil paints; watercolours, ink, biro and embroidery. The result lies somewhere in between a painting and a drawing, neither one nor the other. The clothing I have customised is an extension of the drawings using the same working methods. The intention was to extend the themes into something wearable on the body. The shirt I chose seems to capture the romantic ideal of an artist, a sense of theatre harking back to the 19th century. I wanted the images and ornate designs of my drawings to appear to overflow and engulf the clothing, extending from the paper onto another surface. Something which I first attempted for my degree show.

My plan behind the embroidered shoes was similar, to make wearable art that can extend beyond the confines of the gallery. There is no pattern made beforehand and each shoes is distinct from the next, all done by hand. All the work undertaken is very labour intensive and time-consuming. This seems to take on a meditative feeling which appeals to me, along with an intensity and obsessive detail.

This exhibition is a sample of the work I have produced over the last year. I hope to continue my Untitled drawing (4)research and practice. At times, there are drawbacks from using automatic processes, as repetition often occurs. I have found that mixed media approach helps to relieve any stagnation, in particular – the use of different surfaces, like the clothing alongside two-dimensional formats.


November 3, 2015
January 3, 2016
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DescARTes Gallery
1 Matthews Yard
Croydon, CR0 1FF United Kingdom
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