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Featured Artist of The Week: Nicola McManus

Featured Artist of The Week: Nicola McManus!


"RSA Kinross Scholar '21

Freeland's Painting Prize Winner '21


Nicola’s current practice explores the noticeable decline of outdoor and unstructured children’s play in certain western industrialised societies. In the process she has discovered the fluid qualities of shelter and the ambiguous nature of protection, consequently revealing the adverse effects of societies’ well-intentioned drive to insulate children.


Thus, in recognition of the centrality of such play to a child’s emotional, psychological, and physical wellbeing, and, driven by her keen desire to see its preservation, she intends to create a temporal dimension, which is displaced from the ordinary. In each painting, signs of play are momentarily suspended or consumed entirely. The defining characteristics of play; freedom, intrinsic motivation, structure, secrecy, apparent frivolity, and repetition are often implemented in her process of making. She paints to evoke the beauty and furtive essence of play, drawing the viewer in, as a game does the child.


By exploiting the possible translucent and opaque qualities of paint through a process of careful layering, Nicola engages with the medium to tease out her subject concerns. This approach is married with the abstraction of photography and source imagery and components from small and delicate ceramic models that are made out of debris collected from local play spaces. Designs that allude to the fragmentation of childhood memory and the fragility of play in our westernized culture are gradually and instinctively created.


In doing so Nicola discuss the traces and histories associated with outdoor play through the pictorial depth of the painting; paint becomes a place in which play is memorialised, a film through which we peer, to get close to those distant and intangible remains."


Selected artwork:


Artworks in order:


Grip - 2021 Oil on canvas - 120cm x 90cm - £725


Ring a Roses -2021 Oil and coloured pencil on canvas - 100cm x 140cm - £850


Dispersal - 2021 Oil on canvas - 80cm x 60cm - £550


Envelop - 2021 Oil and enamel on canvas - 85cm x 65cm - £ Not for sale


Evanescence - 2021 Oil on canvas - 105cm x 75cm - Not for sale, Freelands Painting Prize Winner


Hoops - 2021 Oil, enamel, coloured pencil and graphite on canvas on canvas - 75cm x 50cm - Not for sale



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