Nerida Ackland

Winner 2011

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Artist Statement

My practice focuses towards soft sculptures, craft-based objects and installation works, with an approach to materials that invites the audience to reflect on the process of making. I selected unprocessed materials with neutral tones and natural fibres. I am drawn to materials with a three-dimensional linear form, with soft and malleable properties.

My practice involves the endless repetition of a simple technique, to create a powerful aesthetic. The physicality of repetition and the movements required to make the individual pieces are important to the reading of my work; I repeat an action, the action becomes obsessive and hypnotic, and has a meditative effect. My work has a direct connection to my body. Movement, and the positioning of my body determines the resulting form. The act of making is embodied in the work, so the objects become almost artifacts from a private performance.

Recent Works

Known, Loved and Lost

JAAM Works

Art Career Beginnings

I have always connected with physical expression. My life has always been full of creativity. I’ve always sought ways to express myself. I sing, I dance and I make things to feel something, either positive or negative.

My art practice has always been a process to express myself, heal emotions and try to find a balance in life. I thought that there were rules, standards and guidelines that I must adhere to in making my art. I did that as best I could, but still felt like it was a struggle. Somehow it still wasn't enough. I had not found my niche.

Then I met Jennie. She saw something in me that I am only just now truly seeing for myself. I can be free to be the artist I want to be.

My Jennie Thomas Travelling Scholarship Experience

So now I’m here in London. And it’s all because of something that Jennie Thomas saw in me, that I couldn’t. The money wasn’t the important part of the scholarship - although it helped. It was the support from someone who didn’t even know me, but yet could see me, and what I could become. That proved to be everything I ever needed.

Jennie’s gift enabled me to travel; to leave behind that part of myself that was holding me back. I saw amazing art at the Venice Biennale, then more in places like Florence, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, and especially in Granada. And then I came to London. An artist’s life is never easy. To make ends meet, I worked as a barista, then as a grill cook. I was good at it but my art got lost while I worked full time. So now, I’ve left full time work. I just make art and do art shows. I’m making it work for myself and it feels good.

Jennie, you saved me from myself, to find myself. Thank you forever.

Above Left: Image from the living sculpture performance La Femme Croissant (Woman Growing).
Above Right: Basket used for the La Femme Croissant (Woman Growing) live sculpture preformance.

Beyond The Scholarship

I first explored the theme of “Known, Loved and Lost” for an exhibition shown at The lock Up in Newcastle. I’ve revisited that theme here in London. The theme was still relevant to me and I needed to work through it again. I exhibited these new pieces, “Known, Loved and Lost. Series 2, The London Episodes”, at a solo show in Shoreditch. They went on to be shown in a project called Secret Cinema, a huge interactive cinema experience with art installations, light sound and video projections.

I’m also doing a performance of La Femme Croissant (Woman Growing) using a basket I made earlier in Japan. This is a live sculpture performance, where I lay half naked on the gallery floor emerging from the object.

I've done an internship at a commercial gallery in Chelsea, as well as some studio work for Lauren Baker. Together, we are preparing a commission to be shown in Ibiza in Spain.


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Known, Loved and Lost. Series 2, The London Episodes.

JAAM: Japan Australia Art Musings (2010)

The JAAM Project is an artist-in-residence program between Australia and Japan, which took place at Australia House in 2010. Six students, including Nerida, from the Univeristy of Newcastle and Tama Art University lived together and inspired each other to create their peices. The artists not only focused on exhibitions and creating their artworks but were also proactive in interacting with the local people, through workshops and participation in events hled in Urada.

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