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Nicole White Curiosity detective

Nicole White’s playful and colourful approach to creativity has taken her all over the world to collaborate with communities and bring their ideas to life.

In Sheffield, Nicole White’s murals adorn the walls of Hagglers Corner, Aesthete in Walkley and Medieval Mayhem to name a few, while her travels further afield have seen her paint in Cornwall, Lisbon and Peru.

Bold, bright colours and clean lines are frequent features in her pieces, but her love of experimentation and adaptation often sees her bend the style rules so no two pieces are alike. I chatted to Nicole to hear more about her artistic adventures and where her curiosity will be taking her next.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your artwork and what excites you most about the creative process.

My name is Nicole White and I’m a mural artist bred and based in Sheffield. I love to be creative. The core of my practice is based on curiosity, play and seeking new ways to engage with the world. My art practice includes painting murals, storytelling, workshop facilitation, illustration and mixed media artwork. I studied and explored Fine Art at Chesterfield College and Falmouth University. My murals come from a desire to make the world a more colourful place, to uplift people and help bring communities together. I also love the outdoors and see murals as a place where imagination and nature can meet.

The dynamic feeling of making projects happen excites me. Whether it’s painting, working in a community team, mapping ideas, or seeing how a blank space that sat so quietly before now has something colourful to say.

I design and paint commissions, alongside facilitating community mural projects and workshops. For example, I’ve been a lead artist to paint heritage pieces for the Walkley Historians and Falmouth Art Gallery, where members of the community can be involved in the creative process. It excites me to work with people and facilitate an empowering experience.

Falm trop
Fal group
Fal all

As an artistic nomad you've journeyed to Europe and beyond to paint. Which have been your most notable adventures?

Painting in Peru felt adventurous. I was volunteering for Pisco Sin Fronteras and painted my first mural there. It was a jungle scene for a primary school. I’d never painted a large mural before, but had no hesitation in saying yes to taking on the project.After ten days in the heat, mixing countless shades of green, great conversations, paint drying instantaneously and regular donations of jelly from the local teacher, I realised this was something I loved to do and a real way of getting art out into the world.

Goldfinch
Owl

It's interesting to note the subtle differences in style between some of your pieces. Do you ever feel a pressure to consolidate your work into one style so that it's easily recognisable as 'yours'?

As an artist, improvisation and adaptability is really important, so the style that I have created has room for play and variation. It’s useful to have a few parameters to work with, which helps me hit the ground running.

When creating most murals I use bold blocks of colour, shapes and crisp edges to form backgrounds. Then I leave freedom in the foregrounds to be vivid and life-like, showing depth, tone and details. I like to simplify the image so that it is easy to live with day in day out, whilst still having those areas which are eye-catching. I’d definitely like people to recognise my artwork and style. However, I’m also happy if it takes a second glance and curiosity to see it.

Am big you us mural
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DSC00149

Your murals reveal a love for the natural world. Where else do you draw inspiration from when creating a new piece?

I’ll gather inspiration from the context; being in the space and speaking to people, looking at photographs around the themes and other artworks, along with focused and free drawing.A lot of inspiration comes through trying things and modifying them. For example, redrawing them upside down or asking myself sideways-thinking questions like, 'What if this tree is made of raindrops?' Through that experimentation I get ideas and can see the design come together.

Jungle 1
Kingfisher
Girls final

You recently revealed a beautiful mural on the side of Aesthete Coffee + Kitchen in Walkley. How did this come about?

In Heritage contacted me about the project early last year and it seemed really interesting. I met the Walkley Historians in Walkley Library and sent off a proposal just days before the first lockdown.

During that timeless, surreal, sunshine-filled phase of lockdown number one, I received an email saying they’d like to commission me to paint the mural. I designed it in comity with the Walkley Historians to celebrate the Victorian roots of Walkley and the freehold land societies which gave people a chance to vote, grow food and build homes for themselves.

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Walkley process
Walkley

What's on the horizon for 2021?

There are a few projects in the pipeline and I’m also looking forward to seeing what new possibilities arise. I’m in conversation with a community group to create murals for Disley Train Station, Derbyshire. This is an exciting project in the early stages.

I’ll be available for mural commissions throughout the year and I’m looking into doing more community mural projects in collaboration with local organisations and applying for Arts Council funding. I believe public art is so valuable right now, to help remind us of a sense of solidarity and optimism.

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