Nick Warfield’s work makes use of materials that society deems trash or rubbish. His creations are amazing and engaging! Focus visited Nick at his studio, to find out more.
Nick, can you tell us about your connection to the Coffs Coast?
I have been living in the Bellingen Shire for the past seven years, spending three of the last years in Hungry Head. I chose to move to the country from Newcastle to be more connected to the bush, community and the wildlife and have the breathing space that the country offers to make art.
How did you become involved in the visual arts?
I’ve always been handy from a very young age, but for years struggled to find an outlet. After school I was working in the construction industry and was keen to study architecture at uni. At the last minute, I kinda backflipped and decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Newcastle. I was unsure what I would major in, until I went to my first sculpture class and took to it like a duck to water.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just recently returned from the Woodford Folk Festival, where I was commissioned to do a whole range of artwork installations, including the installation of three large scale bird sculptures for one of the venues within the festival. The birds were constructed out of a lightweight metal frame and clad with bumper bars sourced from local wreckers. The pieces went down really well and I am really excited about this new material, as it is durable, has an amazing scope for colour and can suit outdoor crowded environments like public spaces and festivals. It’s also fun going big!
What are the themes contained in your work?
Birds are the main theme in my work and I consider them my muses in a lot of ways, as I feel a strong affinity and connection to them. The three types of birds (Fairy Wren, Kingfisher and Willy Wagtail) were chosen based on their relevance to the local environment where they were to be installed. Using the car parts as materials was inspired by a collaborative sculpture I built at the Northbank Community Gardens with a mate. My mate had worked as a panel beater for years and cottoned on to the huge waste of bumper bars and the potential opportunity in it.
How would you describe your style?
My style is in a fluid state of change and adaptation, but the underlying thread that is always there is the idea of renewal, regeneration and resourcefulness. I like to try and adhere to the laws of nature in my process in a metaphorical way. Be true to the material, be true to the environment you are in, and be true to yourself. Starting a piece starts very simple, with an idea that sparks the motivation to do it. I begin to collect materials that respond to that initial spark and build from there. I don’t have the end destination in my mind, so there is a lot of dancing around in the dark feeling it out.
One of my mantras is the eyeballs never lie; if you can trust them, then they will say yes or they will say no. I think as I mature as an artist, my eyeballs will make better decisions. Also, I think art is intrinsically linked with spirit, so it is important to imbue your work with a spiritual core.
Where do you find inspiration?
Family, friends, in my backyard, and out the front door.
Where do you find your materials?
The world is full of trash if you are looking. Opportunities are everywhere: op shops, tip shops, hard rubbish, backyards, markets, salvage yards, smash repairers, kitchen cupboards – you name it.
Do you get a kick out of using discarded goods to create your works?
The biggest pleasure I have is starting the week with a pile of what is deemed by society to be rubbish or waste and by the end of the week has been transformed and used to create usually a bird or animal with its on life force, character and charm.
How do discarded goods’ shape and form inspire your creations?
Serendipity plays a huge role in the construction of one of my sculptures. The right piece, if I am open to it, will find me. Eyeballs are usually found in this auspicious way. Also, using found objects in my sculpture I can have a lot of fun in playing with objects that have particular associations or points of reference. This can be due to the history, function or design of the object. When I am commissioned by a particular someone to make an artwork, I like to use objects that connect to that person. If they’re a plumber, I’ll use a pipe wrench or copper pipe, for example.
Any artists who inspire you?
I find that the people who inspire me the most are in my community.
What about a specific period of art?
There is nothing more exciting than right now!
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
My advice would be do it; do it now, and think about what you are doing later.
What is the favourite piece you have created?
My favourite pieces are the works I do for friends and family that have no monetary value attached, but are a gift that I am lucky enough to be able to give.
Plans for the future?
I have a two year old daughter and another bub due in April. My plan is to strike a balance between being a professional artist and being a good dad and husband.
Where can people find out more about your art?
Website is www.nickwarfield.com
I will be exhibiting at Urunga Sculpture in the Park at the end of January, and hope to exhibit once again at Swell Sculpture Festival and Woodford Folk Festival at the end of the year. Plus, I will be seeking out opportunities to exhibit locally and in the city.