the story behind the art…
“My artistic practice transforms human stories, oral history and collective memory into contemporary art, with a thematic focus on voices which are forgotten, erased, or omitted. My artwork takes the form of multilayered text sculptures, burned ink drawings, sound recordings and sound collage.
Recently I have concentrated on stainless steel text sculptures, or hand- burned paper sculptures and drawings. To me both forms are either an act of telling a story, or realising that some stories are unutterable, erased, censored or lost. Each artwork is shaped by the life story it contains - multilayered, fragile, suspended in time.
I burn the paper with joss sticks to create imagery in the voids, and I cut metal with lasers and heat to create text. Other works also incorporate glass vessels in which I suspend kinetic text sculptures. I like the natural origins of my materials - from earth, minerals and trees, and that these can be altered through my application of heat rather than paint.
My work has led me to be an experienced collector of testimonies and oral histories. In 2017 I launched the platform humanarchiveproject.com and have since gathered thousands of stories. My research has also resulted in various publications, books, and archives (consisting of human testimonies, life stories, secrets, bird song recordings, paper aeroplanes, confessions, memories and spoken word.) The concept of the archive is important to my practice, and as I look back over its evolution I can see that my work has always been about collecting ephemeral things and re-imagining that information in a poetic or visual way. The Archive can be an analogy for individual or collective memory. My current works are developing a critical response to the metaphorical implications of archiving human narratives.
Since 2016 my fascination with human stories led me to work with official archives and NGOs. I seek testimonies from those who are often silenced, censored or ignored. I have a particular focus on how trauma leads people to experience time differently and store memory abnormally.
I am interested in the archive that exists within each individual mind, each family, each generation. In particular I have begun researching the internal ‘archiving’ of trauma and the movement of this through time, known as transgenerational trauma.
My most recent public sculpture was commissioned by The Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, an institution which was founded by Steven Spielberg and works to develop empathy, understanding and respect. 'Shoah' means Holocaust, and the resulting stainless steel text sculpture features the life story of Jona Goldrich, a Holocaust survivor who escaped from Poland during WW2.
In my spare time I collect paper aeroplanes, proverbs, poems, riddles, birdsong recordings, curses, confessions, laments, praises, prayers, prophecies, public announcements, and narratives.”
Nicola Anthony, 2019