RGU “Scottish Politics Inspires North-East Artist” by Jenny Rush

A north-east artist is set to unveil a series of work influenced by politics in Scotland around the independence referendum.

Nicole Porter (29), who is currently studying for a Masters in Contextualised Practice at Gray’s School of Art, will showcase a range of paintings she created in the lead up to the referendum as well as after the vote at an exhibition of student work.

The exhibition – ‘C3: Collaborative Contextualised Conversations’ – features the work of current full and part time Masters students at the art school, opening on Friday, September 4 and running until September 11.

Among Nicole’s work is a portrait of former First Minister of Scotland and current MP for Gordon, Alex Salmond. Also on display will be a depiction of a scene outside a polling station, a painting in which the faces of the seven leaders of the major UK parties have started to merge called ‘Coallusion’, and a canvas of an Aberdeen street scene overlaid with a painting on glass of a group meeting, named ‘In the Thick of It’.

‘In the Thick of It’ was on display in the debating chamber of the city’s town house, but is now at Gray’s School of Art for the duration of the exhibition. It is also set to go on display in the Scottish Parliament at the end of year.

Nicole said: “This series of paintings was sparked by the referendum. I did a painting about the referendum two years prior to the event and it was all about trying to document the build-up to the vote.

“People were going to have to make a decision on the day and it was a really important one – I wanted to create a piece that could participate in that debate beforehand and the series has developed from there.”

She added: “A painting is timeless and there are going to be future generations that were not here to vote and on whom our decision impacted. The referendum was a historic, as well as a political event, so I wanted to produce work that marks this point in time.”

Nicole said it was great to see her work in the context of the debating chamber at the city’s town house.

“It was interesting to see all the councillors going up to look at it and the fact that it was there in the decision making heart of the council really helped to bring it to life,” she said.

“I also wanted it to act as a reminder to councillors that culture should be on their agenda and I think it has been successful from that point of view.”

Nicole, who owns her own gallery in Aberdeen, has enjoyed having the space to explore different issues through her work as part of the Masters course.

“I run the gallery and do a lot of portrait commissions and that is what I do on a 9 to 5 basis,” she said. “But it is nice to have other interests and to create work that is not necessarily suitable for selling in the gallery but it is interesting to me.

“The course has been a place where I can test out that work, explore and push things and really get quite deep into the potential that is there.”

Nicole added: “As a group, we have been off doing our own projects throughout the year and when we come together it is really good to catch up and share our ideas and thoughts so I’m really looking forward to the exhibition.

“I think the fact that Aberdeen’s art school offers a Masters course is really important for the city if it is going to be a cultural centre.”

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