Street Urchin No. 2 (Yellow), Nicole de Mestre

Nicole de Mestre

Artist Statement

Nicole can be found either in her overcrowded shed or out on Central Coast streets rifling through kerbside pick-up piles searching for inspiration. Her art reflects a curious attachment to discarded materials, an increasing frustration with the prolific waste of modern society and a healthy obsession with rusty metal and old rope. She creates an eclectic range of artistic works, inspired by environmental concerns and linked through the use of locally-sourced recycled materials and found objects. Much of her process is obtaining materials and often their shapes, colour and texture determine the final work.

Nicole defines herself as an environmental artist, and is motivated by the idea of producing something of beauty from materials that would otherwise have ended their days in a landfill site. She tries to reduce her impact on the planet and uses art to communicate her thoughts about society’s unsustainable consumer habits and living practices. It is her underlying hope that people who see her art will be inspired to take a new look at that old tent, lino remnant, fly screen, saucepan lid or whatever, and reconsider before throwing it away.

Creativity has always been a part of Nicole’s daily life, beginning with her mother’s provision of a staple diet of macramé, pottery, batik and tie-dye throughout the 70s. Coupled with this, she had the good fortune to study Spinning and Weaving, Textiles, Papermaking and Art as subjects at her local high school in Canberra. As in many childhoods, Nicole recalls collecting things-shells, rocks, fragments of pottery, stamps, even snails–but it is only in the last decade that the collecting has evolved into conscious recycling which feeds her art practice. She partially attributes her recycling obsession to her father, who lacked artistic sensibilities, but showed great inspiration creating hockey shin guards from old carpet and making magpie-proof bike helmets from ice-cream containers. He could see the possibilities, and so does Nicole.

After completing a Visual Arts degree in woven textiles, Nicole worked at Canberra’s Skye Weaving workshop and spent some time as the spinner and weaver at Old Sydney Town. In addition to her background in woven textiles, she has explored knitting, crochet, collage, feltmaking, graphic design and assemblage. She is currently working with sculptor Col Henry, to develop larger scale sculptures and installations using textile materials and incorporating basket making techniques.