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Nicole Kemp

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Nicole Kemp. Work in progress titled, ‘The time Melbourne went to sleep’ textiles, threads, recycled fabric, scrap, 2020.

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What's your relationship to Kingston? 

I taught for 15 years at Cheltenham Community Centre and the majority of students I currently teach live in Kingston. Additionally, I also shop and visit friends in the Kingston area.

artist medium

Textiles in both art and fashion.

Describe your art or craft practice in a few sentences

I use only the materials I have in my stash, resulting from the donations of scrap fabrics and garments from friends and family. I explore my thoughts, feelings and reactions to my personal experiences and the world around me. Sometimes, I carefully plan ideas, but very often, I let my ideas flow into the fabric. I let accident and surprise guide me. Recently, I have focused on a simpler stitchery technique where I let the stitches wander across the fabric. I hope that what is in my head will appear before me. Sometimes this lack of control means I’m left with some difficult problem-solving challenges, and weirdly, it is this that I love!

Artist bio 

I have been involved in teaching art and crafts for over 30 years. I started my working life as a secondary school art teacher and later became involved in teaching children, teens and adults through community centres. I have been part of several group and solo exhibitions where I exhibited textile art and various acrylic paintings and drawings.

describe your creative business or arts group

I am presently teaching at Glen Eira Adult Learning Centre, Highett Neighbourhood Community Centre, Laneway Learning, and also teach a private group of textile fanatics too. I love to encourage people to explore their own ideas and themes, but I also try to teach specific techniques to help build confidence. With my students, I explore an extensive range of artmaking practices, including painting, drawing, printmaking, textiles, collage - you name it, we do it! I also love to introduce people to the idea that art reflects society throughout history and that contemporary art is not ‘scary’. We take excursions to galleries to really try and cement these ideas. My age-range presently is 50 through to 84. A powerful feeling of community is always evident in the room and the desire to learn new things is powerful. Some people want simply want to do, but many love pushing boundaries of their ideas. Creating a safe place to make accidents is important. Accidents always lead to great art.

How can the public support your arts group?

So many people are cut-off from joining art groups due to cost - funding and subsidies would help build these classes. Mental health issues such a loneliness could be prevented for many people with better access to community groups.

do you have a favourite artist or artwork?

Too many! Goya and Otto Dix for their passion and pain. Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiricahua exquisite designs and embellished surfaces. The anonymous graffiti artists throughout the suburbs of Melbourne and their vibrant, expressive, and bold mark-making. Digital artist like Josh Muir and Jess Johnson - their animation is mind-bending and eye-opening.

what was your first experience of art?

Visiting the NGV with my mother. Wow! Those historical garments blew my mind. I would stand, head against the glass and study their textures and luscious fabrics. The paintings weren’t bad either.

How has the current situation changed your approach to making art and running your arts group?

Converting to Zoom teaching has been amazing, actually it’s a revelation! The results have been stunning. I am my own work and through it I am exploring the political, social and personal impact on myself, friends, family and the world. Stitch by stitch, my moods and responses are embedded into this work.

What motivates your creative business or arts group? 

Community connection is number one for me. I aim first to provide a caring and safe environment where everyone is valued. From this, people gain confidence to express themselves and move into areas of art they never thought they would attempt. It’s always very satisfying to see people smile and proudly show there work to others.

What are you looking forward to after the pandemic? 

Touching, feeling, smelling the artworks produced by all my students. Being together with people. Seeing the body language of the whole person. Being able to simply work closely and physically close to people. Sharing food. Hopefully relief from our anxiety and fear, so we can laugh, sing and chat loudly and freely.