He has grandchildren her age – and she read about his generation in the history books. But now two North East artists are bridging their age gap through art. Creative minds Nicole Porter and Eric Auld have joined forces to produce a new exhibition – Two Artists One City. The 25-year-old and 80-year-old linked up after Nicole opened her self-titled gallery on King Street. The city centre resident, who grew up in Ellon, reached out to Eric after she studied her craft in Norway, Paris and New York. “When I returned from New York I saw the city with new eyes,” the young entrepreneur said. “It just seemed a lot more beautiful to me now than when I left.” Before jetting around the globe Nicole had always admired Eric’s talent. “I felt so inspired by his work and the city I had to do something,” she said. And Eric, who has more than 60 years of experience in his field, was delighted to work with Nicole – nearly six decades his junior. “It was splendid having connected with someone, who was inspired by similar things and whose talent is exceptional,” the grandad-of-six said. The impressive collection of canvasses feature stunning snow scenes, a glimpse of the dazzling Northern Lights and beautiful aerial views. Aberdeen is brimming with inspiration and a wealth of picture-perfect shots, according to Nicole. “I just think the city is stunning, absolutely stunning,” she said. “It’s beautiful regardless of what the weather is like.” Both Nicole and Eric admired Marischal College as an artistic focal point in the city. “I just think it sparkles and it’s something the community should be proud of,” she said. “I think we should have every corner of Aberdeen covered between the two of us,” she added. But even more impressive than the city’s architectural appeal was Eric’s abundance of knowledge. “I think because he is so young at hear it’s like working with a peer,” Nicole said. “But then there’s the fact that he’s so well established. You have to look up to him because of the quality of his work and the experience he’s got in this corner.” The exhibition will run at The Nicole Porter Gallery until January 28.
Nicole Porter recounts how she aimed to avoid the credit crunch and expand her horizons by opening her own gallery and studio. It was an inspired decision. When, aged 23, I suddenly returned home to Aberdeen from living in New York and was posed with the question of what next? The economy was in disarray and the prospect of being a full time artist didn’t look as picturesque as I had perhaps naively imagined – in the austere economic climate galleries seemed to be clinging on by making a few sales of their most established artists. Decision Time: I needed to confirm myself as the professional artist I felt I was, but that goal would not be achieved painting in solitary confinement in the spare room of my parents’ house. It was my Mum who suggested I take my future into my own hands and create an open studio and gallery myself. Although at first the idea seemed ridiculous and totally inconceivable, but after fully contemplating the concept I thought, why not? I had all the experience necessary: I had worked part time in a local gallery for three years; had undertaken an internship at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh as part of my third year of art school; and worked for eight months in a cultural centre in Norway that showcased the nation’s most successful creators. Setting up: The first task was to find the right location and I eventually secured the perfect retail unit on Aberdeen’s bustling King Street. The process of renovating and converting the shop into a gallery and studio space while trying to get to grips with the alien concept of business matters made for a steep learning curve. I was knocking down walls one day and sourcing fittings the next, all the while dealing with banks, insurance companies and tradesman. It was a hectic period, with little if no time to spend drawing or painting. Finally the gallery, with my first-ever proper studio, was ready to open in September 2010. The idea was that visitors to the gallery could engage in a unique opportunity to view the work in an exhibition environment while also witnessing the creative processes at first hand. Opportunities: With a crowded gallery, the first night was not only a success in terms of sales, but also a great celebration of what had been achieved. Several months on, I have settled into my new life as a professional artist and gallery owner and can honestly say it was the best thing I have ever done. Alone, the interaction alone has made the whole venture worthwhile: each has their own opinion, and their comments on the works in progress provide much valued feedback that inevitably influences the decision-making processes. Another bonus is that there are opportunities and commissions, which wouldn’t necessarily materialise if I were painting in a more private studio. I have also been able to build a community: of students who wish to study with me; members of the public who wish to learn about art; and artists who wish to show their work. Challenges: Of course, having your door always open can mean that I can be interrupted at any time and, after spending time with a visitor, it can be difficult to regain concentration. Then, as a gallery owner, I obviously have to organise exhibitions, which in turn reduces the amount of time I have to make my own work. However the positives do far outweigh the negatives. No doubt there will be challenges that continue to test me in my still relatively new venture. I hope to be able to make the most of any prospective opportunities and commissions while still having the time to produce my own work. Furthermore, I hope to continue to enlighten people. Not only the students in how to draw and paint, but also the general public in how to understand what is good and bad in art and to appreciate skill and craftsmanship. I am currently in the process of writing my first book on my experiences of art school; studying under Odd Nerdrum in Norway and Paris; my travels to New York and the endeavours of setting up my own art gallery.
It’s hard to believe award winning artist and now gallery owner Nicole Porter graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design a mere three years ago. Since obtaining a first class honours degree in Fine Art in the summer of 2008 the young Aberdonian has worked with leading artists in Europe and the USA and carved out an already successful career of her own. Last year she opened her own studio and gallery in the centre of Aberdeen and this year her largest work to date, an oil on canvas triptych painting entitled Burns Supper won a commended award at the Aberdeen Artists Society Exhibition. Even before the end of her studies Nicole had won a swathe of awards including two Elizabeth Greenshields Foundtion Grants, the Artists and Illustrators Magazine Self-Portraiture competition, the Farquhar Reid Trust Art Prize, the David Gordon Memorial Trust Award at the Royal Scottish Academy Student Exhibition and second prize at the second prize at the Boundary Gallery Figurative Art Prize. It was her first Elizabeth Greenshields Award which allowed Nicole to travel to Norway in 2008 just weeks after graduation to work with legendary Norwegian figurative artist Odd Nerdrum. “I was the first Scottish student to be invited in Odd’s residency programme,” explained Nicole. “I spent eight months at his international artist’s community. I had great fun there and I learned a lot. It was a great experience. My fourth year at DJCAD was quite intense as I wanted to get a first so I just put my head down and worked for the whole year. “Going to Norway after that was quite refreshing. Working as Odd’s assistant meant I had to focus on things other than my own work. I prepared canvases, edited a 600 page book for him. “When I was in Dundee it was more about finding out what kind of artist you wanted to be but in Norway it was about learning more traditional techniques. It changed the way I worked and it was great having so many other artists to interact with.” After eight months Nicole moved to Paris to look after Odd Nerdrum’s châteaux where she had her own studio and free access to the French capital’s treasure trove of inspirational art. She then moved to New York where she spent an intense four months enrolled in the Arts Students League, a traditional pay as you go art school and working as assistant to internationally acclaimed figurative artist Steven Assael. Working and studying in New York without her own studio reinforced Nicole’s appreciation for the facilities she enjoyed at DJCAD. “In Dundee I had a studio and lots of support from staff, lots of freedom to be creative and lots of opportunities to be the artist I wanted to be,” she said. “But you take it for granted and it is not until you don’t have it any more that you really miss it. And working with other artists and seeing other art schools made me realise just how brilliant the facilities in Dundee are. The space and the light are amazing.” Now with her own studio and gallery space in Aberdeen Nicole is maintaining her links with her alma mater. Earlier in the year she staged an exhibition featuring artwork by a number of her former classmates as well as other DJCAD graduates and staff members. Dundee Collected brought together 11 artists including five who shared a studio space with Nicole at art college. “It was my love of the school and the artists who have studied there that motivated the exhibition,” she said. “And it was great to do, to get everyone together. Dundee is very strong on figurative art and I think the exhibition demonstrated that.”
An award-winning young north-east artist has won another accolade with her latest work, now on show at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Visitors to the city’s Nicole Porter Gallery were able to see the 10ft by 4ft triptych take shape over the past six months, as 24-year-old artist Nicole Porter worked on the oil on canvas painting in the King Street gallery that is also her studio. She completed The Burns Supper – an atmospheric and striking blend of figurative, still life, land and seascape painting – as her first contender for entry in the annual Aberdeen Artists Society Exhibition. The picture received a commendation and is now among selected works in the show that continues until May 28. The ex-Ellon Academy pupil, whose home is at Whitemyres Croft, Daviot, near Inverurie, graduated with a first-class honours degree from Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and went to study with world-renowned painter Odd Nerdrum in Norway and later Paris. She began The Burns Supper after returning from New York to open her own gallery. The Dundee Collected exhibition of works by artists who have either worked or studied at Duncan of Jordanstone continues until the end of this week at The Nicole Porter Gallery.
An award-winning north-east artist will be putting old college friends in the frame in her own Aberdeen gallery throughout this month. The Nicole Porter Gallery in King Street launches its latest exhibition, Dundee Collected, tomorrow. Artworks from 11 artists who have either worked or studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee will be on show until April 30. The artist from Whitemyres Croft at Daviot, near Inverurie, graduated with a first-class honours degree from the college and went on to study with internationally renowned painter Odd Nerdrum in Norway and later in Paris. The 24-year-old former Ellon Academy pupil now works from a studio in the gallery where she is a partner and which provides a city centre showcase for both established and up-and-coming artists. Among the artists taking part in the latest show are her fellow Dundee graduates Rich Cormack, Jo Fraser, Fraser Gray, Ali Hardy and Camilla Symons. Also exhibiting are Alan Greig and Lisa Murphy along with Karen Esplin and Mel Shand who has been well known for her paintings and drawings for the past 25 years. Miss Porter, who is showing large-scale paintings based on art school life, said: “A love for Duncan of Jordanstone among the artists who have studied there as motivated the creation of the exhibition and brought Dundee Collected to Aberdeen.”