New Chichester exhibition explores the changes in nature

Calm Continuum is the title of Nicole Phillips’ exhibition at Chichester’s Oxmarket Gallery from July 6-18.

Nicole Phillips
Nicole Phillips

Nicole, who lives in Midhurst, said: “The idea behind the exhibition is really to showcase the body of work I have produced whilst living through the lockdowns.

“Our daily lives have been interrupted this past year, but nature has continued on regardless and in some cases thrived in our absence. I have tried to encapsulate the very human emotions I felt and observed through this unique time in my work. Art has been my way of dealing with the uncertainty and has kept me focused and grounded. If you consider that from one day to the next, imperceptible changes occur in nature, often without us noticing.

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“I think all of us have noticed more in nature and I have tried to use these subtle details in my work. In the exhibition I have painted in various mediums including acrylics, watercolours, inks and screen-printing techniques. I like to keep pushing myself and exploring different ideas and I hope this shows in the exhibition.

“Whilst many of the pieces show calm, some don’t. I think people will see and relate to various different emotions they have felt themselves over recent times. Much of my work is impressionist in style but influenced by my emotional response to that landscape at the time. I use the changes in light and dark and colour shifts in the scene to create a mood.

“This is my first serious solo exhibition and I hope to find a permanent gallery in time. I have always been creative and remember feeling the joy from painting from a very early age. I always knew art would be significant for me. Rather than being limited to one medium, I have always tried to be experimental and move from pottery, watercolour and acrylic to textiles and print making to keep things mixed up and interesting. I probably get bored quickly! I’m part of a local group of artists that meet once a week to paint together, support and inspire each other. Chichester has a great artist community.

“I studied ceramics at Bath College and for several years after graduating with a BA hons I set up and ran a ceramics studio selling my hand-made pottery with my hand-painted designs. All of my designs are inspired by nature and the coast. I spent my childhood moving between The Bahamas and West Sussex so spent a lot of time near the coast so you will see landscapes and seascapes featuring highly in my work. I find both offer infinite opportunities to convey emotion from a moment in time.

“My coastal upbringing led me to develop a range of premium household textiles I created a few years ago. My watercolour paintings were digitally printed onto fabric which I used to created cushions, oven gloves, tea towels and unique material patterns all sold online on my web shop. It was a lot of fun designing the products and seeing them being enjoyed by customers. Managing printers and suppliers took me too far away from the art so I stopped doing that and these days I focus on painting and printmaking in the main.

“I guess being dyslexic has played a part in steering a path into being a full-time artist too. Adding to that, the birth of my third child and their diagnosis on the autism spectrum has also impacted how I prioritise my time these days. I find that I can dip in and out of painting as time allows and it is always therapeutic when I get a chance to paint. As a child, I had hip problems so was not as mobile as my peers. Instead of doing PE or games, I was either in the pottery shed or sketching under a tree.

“Running my textiles business was probably the time I did more than I could have ever expected and felt very proud. I pretty much single-handedly ran the business, designed the products and managed the marketing.”