Nicola Canavan’s one of these creative people I met sometime ago and I’ve subsequently followed her work with interest. Her work is arguably only suitable for adults (I wouldn’t have shown certain pieces to my students when I was an art teacher in a comprehensive)… I put that proviso here so if your easily offended you don’t follow the links, simple. Disclaimer over (!)
A recent piece of Nicola’s work provoked an interesting discussion about intent and integrity in performance art. The discussion ended with Nicola asking me to write a short piece about her artwork.
If you’re interested in art it can change your perception of what is happening to you and your body, of pain, vulnerability and beauty.
Nicola’s art may shock but if you get past your initial reaction (relating to societal notions of ‘normality’ and ‘acceptance’) I find really powerful expressions of what it can be like to be in love and feel things deeply.
Emotions are hard things to convey in an image (I believe less so in a performance) but Nicola’s artworks give us, the viewers, an acute strength of feeling.
Currently I’ve got a print for sale called ‘Shot in the Back’ thinking about Nicola’s performance a connection formed in my mind. This piece was created by collaging a photograph of a Greek sculptures head onto a body drawn in white pencil on black paper.
There are things I would change if I was to do more artworks like the one above but there has been some interest in the piece at Tynemouth Market. This piece was inspired by holiday photographs of an old school friend. I think I felt real empathy for the subject, as I did with Nicola in her performance ‘Bittersweet’… is empathy the right word I’ve never experienced this kind of physical pain but the experience of emotional pain.
I have always loved Frida Kahlo’s paintings for this reason. More contemporary cultural references to the theme of women, beauty love and pain that have been pervading my existence include the brilliant Florence and the Machines ‘Lungs’ album; the visually stunning, but not necessarily a satisfying film, ‘Antichrist’ by Lars von Trier (both of his lead female character and in the characters visual research for her PhD); Finally The Walker Art Gallery currently has a show called “The Rise of Women Artists” and there are some magnificent pieces in their Flickr set, my favourite is shown below.