Wednesday, December 16, 2020

GAS Featured Artist: Nicola Winborn by Sylvia Van Nooten

Nicola’s artworks have been published internationally in Art in a Box, Circulaire 132, Rubber Postcard, South Florida Poetry Journal, Sonic Boom (cover artist also), Stampzine, Utsanga and X-Peri. In 2019 she founded Attic Zine: The International Book of Colour, a loose-leaf assembling zine, which she continues to edit. She is also the Founder/Curator of Marsh Flower Gallery, an online exhibition platform, hosting artists from around the world. Nicola posts regular news about all of her creative adventures on her Facebook page:

Title: watching the river 1

Details: Mixed media and collage on paper, April 2020

Commentary: In this series, I have brought together my collage work, Asemic Writing and some rubber stamp art elements too. The six 'drawings' shown here form part of a wider body of 30 images, all generated during the first Covid-19 'lockdown' in April 2020. I created them in memory of my non-biological father William James Edward McClellan - each piece is dedicated to him. As a young man, he was a merchant seaman and he survived The Battle of the Atlantic: as an elder, he loved to watch the river and the comings and goings of its ships from the windows of his flat in Liverpool. 

Title: watching the river 2

Details: Mixed media and collage on paper, April 2020.

Commentary: This piece includes 'regular' writing as well as Asemic. The words around the blue circle read: "a great lover of ships" in continuous letters. 

Title: watching the river 3

Details: Mixed media and collage on paper, April 2020.

Commentary: I loved the phrase "sailing craft" underneath the image of the boat, so I decided to keep it rather than cut it off when I was selecting collage elements for this image. 

Title: watching the river 4

Details: Mixed media, collage and rubber stamping on paper, April 2020.

Commentary: The skyline 'silhouette' in this piece is an outline of some of the waterfront buildings near The Albert Dock in Liverpool city centre. I wanted to reference the beauty of my home city in an implicit fashion and so I opted for this veiled yet visible reference to architectural landmarks which I have always loved. 

Title:  watching the river 5

Details: Mixed media, collage and rubber stamping on paper, April 2020.

Commentary: This piece (along with No. 4 and No. 6) also includes rubber stamping: the radiating 'Ws' were made with a commercial letter 'W' rubber stamp and a black ink pad. 

Title: watching the river 6

Details: Mixed media, collage and rubber stamping on paper, April 2020.

Commentary: Here I wanted to render an unknown archetypal 'landscape' through rubber stamped collage papers: the boat travels through this beautiful dreamlike world. 

Nicola Winborn: Interview 

I met Nicola online on an Asemic Art Group about two years ago.  I was just starting to post my work there and she was the first in the group to encourage me.  She helped me so much with my confidence.  Building people up is one beautiful part of Nicola, another is her art.  Looking at the six pieces she submitted for this interview you can see the depth and range of her talent.  I’ll let her speak for herself and I encourage everyone to visit Marsh Gallery and experience the artists she showcases.  ~Sylvia Van Nooten

Q. 1: What is behind your artistic vision? Why do you do art? 

I have loved using art materials since childhood: in some of my earliest memories I am playing on the floor of our family living room with paper, brushes and watercolours. A tin of paints felt like a magic box to me back then and still does! I don't think the thrill of art will ever diminish for me, it will never become stale. The world of art, whether it's creating my own work or experiencing other people's, is unbelievably exciting for me, irresistible. It's also essential to me and far from a 'luxury', as some tend to see it in our overly utilitarian world: in short, too big a part of me dies if there is no art in my life. It is as necessary to me as breathing: I see art and creativity as life itself, not some optional add-on that is somehow 'self-indulgent' and can therefore be thrown away when personal and/or political agendas become brutal, blind. 

Q. 2: How does being an artist help you communicate with the world? 

I tend to work in mixed media painting/drawing, with emphases on Collage, Mail Art, Rubber Stamp Art, Asemic Writing and Slow Stitch. My methods are often eclectic and will fuse disciplines together: for instance, in 2022, I will be showing some textile pieces online on Marsh Flower Gallery, which join Asemic Writing, Textile Painting and Slow Stitch practices together. It's important for me to allow myself to experiment in this way, since my brain seems to be wired in a fashion which starts to see all kinds of ways artistic methods can be brought together, and so I have to create outlets for this. I often feel that visual art is predominantly an instinctive communication with our world and, since we live in cultures dominated by rationalism, this felt side of our lives is too often dismissed or ignored. However, our instincts are a very important part of our species. In my own creative experience, artistic communication is a place of flow, emotions, visions, the unconscious, and it has vital messages for us. I have discovered that visual art is a mode of communication with its own language and dynamics; it takes time and patience to get to know this terrain and to find one's own voice within this great and powerful river of creativity. 

Q. 3: Have you built or joined a community of artists around the world? How did you do this? 

I have helped build new communities of artists around the world and I have also joined existing international communities, in fact, often there's a bit of both going on. Take Attic Zine for instance. I founded this handmade, international assembling zine in September 2018 and it is a unique contribution to this genre in a number of ways, especially as that it is the first ever zine to make colour its primary focus and organising principle. However, it is also a publication very much indebted to and part of existing artistic traditions, especially the world of Mail Art. Mail Artists are part of what is known as the "Eternal Network" - a constantly growing and evolving international community of extremely talented artists, who use the world's postal services to communicate with each other, exchange art, collaborate and create group international projects. And so I feel that I have become part of this beautiful "Eternal Network" in recent years, and I have been made so welcome in this community, since it is made up of the most kind, rare and special people you could ever meet! I feel honoured to have had Attic Zine embraced so fully by artists from all around the world: fellow creatives genuinely love this publication, they find its concentration on colour to be exciting, joyous and novel. Recently, my friend the wonderful artist Kimm Kiriako, described Attic Zine as a "community". Her words made me so unbelievably happy, since I do indeed see Attic as a great coming together of many artists. It's a place where they can share their love of the colour spectrum and celebrate the great pigments of our world through their own unique creative contributions and each other's. 

Social media has been key in the setting up and running of Attic Zine. I would still be able to organise it without this platform, however, it would have taken much longer to get established and I wouldn't be able to get as many issues out per year as I do. Online life has turbo-charged the development of Attic Zine, for sure, and I am most grateful for this! I've also been able to make contact with other artists easily through social media. My idea for Attic Zine grew out of me becoming friends with Picasso Gaglione and Darlene Domel, editors and founders of Stampzine. Picasso saw my work online and invited me to make pages for Stampzine: this recognition and endorsement gave me a huge confidence boost at a time when I was just beginning to rediscover my creative self. After making my first set of Rubber Stamp Art pages for Picasso and Darlene, something clicked in my brain. Alongside making these zine pages, I'd also been making a set of books in boxes - I made a Book of Red, a Book of Yellow, a Book of Orange etc. In fact, I worked my way through the entire rainbow, and the seven books I created in this way sit next to me in my studio each day. One day, I was looking at my books in boxes alongside my copy of Stampzine and the eclectic, fusing side of my brain went into overdrive. I remember thinking to myself, "Imagine having books of colour made by the whole world, not just me". A light bulb illuminated and next thing I knew the seed of Attic Zine was born within me. I then began to communicate with and run my ideas past Picasso, who was so supportive and kind to me when I was getting Attic Zine off the ground. Both him and Darlene are angels in my life, they are such dear friends. 


  1. Congratulations, Nicola! You are so deserving of this honor. I enjoyed reading the history behind your "Watching the River" series. I can just imagine your father sitting and watching the river action, far down below. I feel blessed to have found you as a friend on Facebook. You have been an inspiration to me with your art and helpful and kind words.

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