Poetry net III, 2020.
Hand-made fishing net created from recycled plastic, collaged on canvas.
95cm (h)x 60cm (w)x 12cm (d)
Ph credit and courtesy of the artist.
This new piece from the Poetry Net Series is very fresh – made during the recent weeks of lockdown in the temporary home-studio of artist Nicola Anthony.
It at first appears to be a tangled fishing net but on closer inspection it reveals itself to be the very finely cut text of a poem with letters only 6mm high.
Made of recycled plastic, formed into a text and hand woven into a lattice, the form of the nylon fishing net acts as a symbol of the global migrant crisis – referring to the tension between capturing, saving, rescuing, imprisoning or providing, as well as the many migrant escape boats which continue to be in peril at sea.
The series started last year – with some controversy – in Ireland, a country which has been criticised by the UN and the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (E.C.R.I.) for its treatment of Asylum Seekers. The artwork series was recently shortlisted for the Sovereign Art Prize.
It naturally seemed to be the perfect series to develop further now in the home-studio, during this strange moment of feeling trapped, isolated, entangled, unsafe, and fearing for our loved ones.
But it is the POEM which is really what is important right now –
Over the course of 6 years a poem about how to find hope during crisis and isolation have slowly come together based on quotes from migrant workers, migrant families and refugees. My research involved working with communities to collect stories & collective memory.
The interviews revealed that even in the darkest times, people found ways to keep going – including faith, tradition, grandma’s recipes, love, superstition, sayings and lucky charms. The quotes which became ‘collaged’ into the poem can be read in the full original text which has been called a ‘shared human mantra’.
Some of these migrants and refugees are still in touch with me – often in Asylum Seeker centres across the world, where after fleeing war and crisis, they can be held indefinitely in isolation and without the rights to go outside into society – in Ireland’s Refugee ‘Direct Provision Centres’ some are still locked inside after 9+ years of waiting for freedom. It is these individuals who can teach us how to deal with isolation and crisis.
My hope is that after a few weeks of experiencing it, society will not stand for any fellow human beings being deliberately subjected to isolation. [N.A]
Nicola Anthony is a visual artist based in Dublin, and an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. She has been invited all over the world to work with NGOs, art institutions, and architects to create art which expresses the human experience of isolation, displacement, disconnection or disenfranchisement.
This year her art has featured in the New York Times, Interior Design Magazine and Architectural Record. In recent years Nicola had a solo exhibition at Singapore Art Museum, exhibited in the Kuala Lumpur Biennale, and installed public sculptures in Los Angeles, Colorado and Singapore. She has been practicing for fifteen years and created exhibitions and commissions for art institutions and cultural foundations in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Myanmar, USA, UK, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. She studied at Loughborough University in the UK and Central Saint Martins, (UAL).
Using fire techniques on paper and metal alongside an innate ability to transform words into messages of profundity, her work is a journal of a thousand souls. She collects human testimonies, empowering and transforming them into contemporary art. From the playful to the heart-wrenching, each artwork is shaped by the narrative it contains.
Some works take the form of text sculptures, giving glimpses into the effects of displacement and intergenerational trauma. Others portray traces of lost stories and unheard voices through burnt, worn and layered surfaces. She focuses her work on untold narratives, collective memory, displacement, migration and place memory. Nicola has a specific interest in the nature of the ‘archive’ of stories, language, memory processes, and the way we may all experience time differently.
The original poem can be found here: https://nicolaanthony.co.uk/blog/sovereignartprize-poem-nicola-anthony
More about the whole series: https://nicolaanthony.co.uk/gallery#/poetry-net-series-nicola-anthony-text-art/