The A-List interviews Nicola Anthony about the Human Archive Project

The A-List is the National Art’s Council’s art and culture blog. Thank you to journalist Eleni Sardi for coming to speak with me at the exhibition at National Design Centre, and writing this insightful article: Read full feature below or click here.


What would your story look like – if it were turned into a word installation?

PUBLISHED ON 10/08/2018 12:00 am

Nicola Anthony turns individual stories into physical, collective word clouds. Her curious, delicate creations literally wrap you in evocative stories. As you follow the trail of words like Hansel and Gretel following breadcrumbs, you can’t help but feel like a visual eavesdropper of secrets.

She’s collected stories from strangers for her Human Archive project since 2016. Nicola turns each story over in her mind and mulls over the collective emotion of interweaving stories. Her thought-provoking pieces become an experience for people wandering through the Singapore Art Museum and National Design Centre.

“I’m very honoured and humbled because people open up and tell stories they wouldn’t normally share. I love getting an insight into people’s lives’, said Nicola when we met her at the Keepers Playground of Infinite Happiness, where her latest piece was unveiled.

Her website received hundreds of stories. Revelations, confessions, exhortations, exclamations that inspire the artist to create her signature pieces – long lines of text that at times become as tangled and knotted as the stories they tell. A piece with a central rotating core cocooned by an outer shell, which mirrors the physical barriers one puts up to shield himself or herself from others.

Another installation features climbing words, reflecting the conquering of blindness as a near-blind woman saw purple crocuses outside her window, just when she feared she wouldn’t be able to see again.

Most artists have a story to tell when they create their art, some more literally than others. In Nicola’s work, the words reveal individual stories as much as a collective tale. The result is a balancing act so moving and powerful that you are left feeling more connected to the human race.

See Nicola’s ‘Unexpected Happiness’ piece at the National Design Centre or contribute your story anonymously to the Human Archive project: