Working out of an old hospital ward in Lancashire, Nicola Hebson makes a range of wares using expired animals. There is a humour, beauty and sadness to be found in Hebson’s array of jewellery, sculptures and accessories. We caught up with Nicola to find out about taxidermy, nomadism and belly dancing squirrels.
Hi Nicola, first of all could you tell us all about your work?
I am a self taught ethical taxidermist, I recycle roadkill and make it into wearable accessories and taxidermy pieces, dioramas and artwork. I also have my own jewellery line called DeadGoodJewellery which is handmade jewellery made from pressed flowers, leaves, naturally deceased insects. I also use animal bones and feathers whilst incorporating resin, clay, crystals and metal into the jewellery pieces. I also make paintings on canvas using acrylic and I paint in a surreal style.
Is there an overriding theme to your art?
I would say anthropomorphism, (which means applying human attributes to something not human), spirituality (a sense of connection to something higher than ourselves) and nomadism (traveling with no fixed aboade, using what you have)
Do you make a living from your art work or is it a case of fitting it around a part time/full time job?
Yes, I make a living off what I do and I am self-employed. I run my own online shop and i sell my work at festivals and fairs, and in shops up and down the country.
Who or what is your work influenced by?
I would say my work is mainly influenced by nature, and all the flora and fauna in it. I am also heavily inspired by India and have travelled there twice, particularly the Rajasthan area as i love the traditional gypsy culture that derives from that area and all the art and music that is created there.
Do you have a favourite piece that you have created, and why?
My favourite piece I have made so far is a belly dancing roadkill squirrel because I came up with the idea just before waking up properly in the morning and it was kind of like a half dream, half idea that managed to manifest in real life and turned out better than I could ever have imagined, because a lot of the time taxidermy can go wrong if you’re dealing with half squashed animals but she managed to be immortalised wonderfully!
Tell us about where you are based now and how you found out about Ad Hoc?
I am currently based in the Old Hospital in Clitheroe. I found out about AdHoc through a friend when I was struggling to find an affordable place to live and it all worked out perfectly. I live in a giant ward that used to be a men’s ward and there is more than enough room for me and all of my creations! I even use the examination lights on the walls to examine my specimens, and i have a ward curtain that goes around my bed to block out lights when I’m sleeping! It’s like a cool studio apartment.
How is being an Ad Hoc Guardian conducive to your work and lifestyle?
Being an Ad Hoc guardian is life changing and has helped me to pursue my dreams. It’s affordable and there’s tons of room for me to work on my art. This is the lifestyle i have always dreamt of and I want it to stay like this as long as possible. It’s brilliant to be able to work without the stresses of money and bills.
What advice do you have for others who want to make a living from their art?
Never give up on your dreams and keep on producing art that YOU love because as long as you keep on making art eventually it will sell itself because the love and effort you have put into it will shine through and make someone really happy.
You can see more of Nicola’s work over at www.nicolahebson.com.
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