NICOLE QUINTON - ARTIST
My parents built our first house in Kurrajong in New South Wales. We had a national park at the end of the garden and my grandparents lived a few doors down. I spent my days with them exploring the bush, swimming in the creek and feeding kookaburras. When my parents divorced my mum moved us to the suburbs and I spent the next ten years trying to escape.
I left home at seventeen and did a BA in Communications at Newcastle Uni, majoring in film studies. After graduating I went to MTV when television channels were still relevant. I worked as a Creative and Art Director in broadcast branding and communications. It was a really creative time in television and I had a lot of fun. I spent a year with Disney in Milan, ten years in London producing and directing promos and trailers and most recently as Creative Director of ABC2 and the ABC kids channels. In London I went back to school to study Fine Art at Central St. Martins.
After more than a decade living and working in Europe my husband and I moved to Sydney just after the birth of our second baby. I studied Textile Design at Sydney Tafe. We were there for a few years but I realised Sydney wasn’t the place for me.
At the beginning of last year we didn’t know Newstead existed. We were done with cities and decided rural was the way to go. I was searching for property from our sofa in Sydney when I stumbled across a beautiful house that we thought we could live in forever. I had never heard of Newstead or Castlemaine so I Googled it whilst booking flights. We were here for twelve hours and decided this was it and made an offer on the house. It was one of the best decisions we have ever made. Newstead's community is full of amazing and talented people, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to end up surrounded by so many like-minded folk. I don’t think I could live without my neighbours and new friends. We feel like we’ve been here forever, although it’s just over a year. Newstead is home.
Inspiration comes from the everyday and ordinary. Nature is a big influence on my style, so is architecture and design. And my dad had a mid-century furniture and design store when I was growing up and I think being around that has influenced my style and tastes. He worked in the Sydney theatre scene so we’d always hang out with actors and artists. His house was full of mid-century furniture and art and I can remember spending hours going through his books and music. I loved making stuff as a kid and I was always working on something.
I like abstract expressionist art. It’s all about the process for me. Intuitive greats like Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Jean Arp, Richard Serra, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin,Helen Frankenthaler.
I’m also really interested in composition, shape and form; Afro Basaldella, Barbara Hepworth, Costantin Brancusi, Louise Bourgeois, Stuart Davis, Andre Lanskoy, Shirley Jaffe, Henry Moore, Robert Rauschenberg, Patrick Heron, Sonia Delaunay, Alexander Calder, Roberto Burle Marx, Andy Warhol.
And I love contemporary art too; Emily Besser, Atelier Bingo, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Jonas Wood, Waldemar Kolbusz, Heather Chontos, Anish Kapoor, Ken Done, Rachel Whiteread.
I’m still learning a lot about indigenous art, so far I love Sally Gabori, Kurtni Jimmy Pike, Mitjili Napurrula, George Mung Mung, Queenie McKenzie, Emily Dam Kngwarray, Lena Nyadbi and the Martumili artists.
I think good design can also play a part in art and often designers are also artists. Some of my favourites are Ray and Charles Eames, Stig Lindberg, Le Corbusier, Isamu Noguchi, Josef Frank, Luis Barragan.
As far as materials go, I’m happy to experiment so I’ll use anything I can get my hands on. I started out with film and motion graphics and now it’s prints, paints and textiles. I’d like to play with ceramics next.
I work wherever I can find some space, we’re currently renovating so it’s been tricky sharing space with my family. My kids love creating with me, so often they chuck out ideas that can be fun to play with. My studio is nearly ready but the family might have to move into it while we’re building…
I’ve got an exhibition running at the moment at Corner Store Merchants in Castlemaine but I did have a film installation piece in the Pompidou in Paris, which was a career highlight! I’m also designing a range of home wares for a new label, which is really exciting and will be available soon. I also have another exhibition next year, so I’ll be planning for that. And I’m designing our new house.
I’d like to think I’m getting better at managing a work/life balance. I’ve been lucky, since moving here I’ve been able to work from home. I guess it means school drop offs and pickups are less stressful.
If you’re thinking of moving to the country, you need to be sure you’re done with city living. And if you are, do it sooner rather than later, it’s the best thing ever.
Favourite things to do: we all love walking our dog down to the Loddon and skimming pebbles. Climbing the tower at Mount Tarrengower to take in the views. Having a nosey at some of Castlemaine’s stunning gardens. Open studio visits and the Castlemaine State Festival. Local artisan markets and swap meets. And I really enjoy being at home, cooking, gardening, back yard bon fires with friends.
Nicole's work is on display at The Corner Store Merchants in Castlemaine until Saturday, Oct. 7.