Nicol Sanders O’Shea

Creative Patapatai

Nicol Sanders O’Shea’s first job was tutoring printmaking at Elam, and her art journey has been life-long ever since. Working as an art educator at Toi Ohomai, Nicol wants to see more public art around our city, funded art residencies, and big annual arts events. We think she’s spot on.

Your occupation, job title, artistic discipline (or very brief description of what you do):

I am the Academic Leader Arts (Art & Design, Music & Media) at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. I am a visual artist and a screen printing specialist. I consider my art practice to be more print installation rather than one-off original artworks or printed editions.

What cities/towns have you lived in (or spent more than a few months in) beginning with the place of your birth?

I was born and schooled in Auckland. I studied a Master of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland and a Bachelor of Visual Arts at AUT University. I moved to Napier in 2001 to take up a teaching position at Eastern Institute of Technology. Both my kids were born in Hawkes Bay, then we moved back to Auckland for four years where I worked at AUT University. I moved to Tauranga in 2013 to take up a teaching position in art at the old Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.

For you as a creative person, who are three influential artists or thinkers?

Chinese contemporary artist, documentarian, and activist, Ai Weiwei. I saw his work at the 21st Sydney Biennale in 2018 and was amazed at the scale of the work ‘Law of the Journey’ and his multidisciplinary art practice capturing current social global issues.

American conceptual artist John Baldessari. I enjoy his play of form, composition, use of photomontage and ironic text paintings.

Andy Warhol for obvious screen printing process reasons, but also for how influential he was in the pop art movement, contemporary print/art concepts, and collaboration.

If you went away from the Bay of Plenty for a long time and then came back, what are the first three things you would do or visit?

Purchase sourdough bread from Bread Head in Tauranga to make toasted sandwiches with lots of pesto and cheese. Go to the Mount for a walk and to put my feet in the warm, smooth sand. Go to Tauranga Art Gallery and Sumer Gallery to get an art fix.

Looking back at your teen-age self, what one sentence describes that person?

That I did what I planned to do – make art, love my job, and have two kids. I always wanted my own home studio, and last year I finally had a studio built in our backyard that overlooks the garden with pukeko wandering around.

What is missing or lacking from your Bay of Plenty community or environment?

Public art work (permanent or temporary) around our city. We really need more art to give a sense of belonging and uniqueness. A big visual art annual or biannual event, where I can get involved as an artist or participate as an audience member. I love a big dose of art to be inspired and think about new ideas and experiences.

What was your first real job, second, third?

My first real job was in 1997. I was contracted as a senior tutor in the printmaking department at Elam School of Fine Arts. I was fresh out of art school and only had a little teaching experience. It was my first stepping stone into tertiary art education and I am so grateful for it.

What word of advice would you offer an aspiring creative person?

Make art a life long journey, always make art and never give up.

Do what you love to do. Make the work you want to make. Enjoy the process and don’t get too judgy on yourself. It’s a life long journey, after all.

What’s the biggest problem about life in New Zealand? How you would solve it?

There are not enough publicly (or privately) funded art residencies for artists in New Zealand. I would like the government to subsidise art residency programmes for collectives or individuals to give more local and international artists the opportunity to make art for a short period of time in a different city or region. This would provide a networking opportunity and space for new ideas and outcomes to be created that contribute to the vibrancy of the city/region and our creative industries. I went on a printmaking installation residency in Manhatten, New York in 2018 with another artist from Hawaii. We worked in a print studio for two weeks with other artists to produce a printmaking installation for an exhibition. This was hosted by a print artist and sponsored by the US government. It was such a special and unique opportunity to live and work with local artists in the area and from other countries.

What is your dream of happiness?

Being an artist full time without no financial concerns.

More about Nicol

Visit Nicol’s Creative Directory profile for more info

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