By Lola Pinder
Nicole Welch is a Bathurst-based installation and photo-media artist, centring upon site-specific photographs of media installations.
Much of Welch’s work has developed from research into the history of the area in and around Bathurst, where she grew up and has returned to live. She employs a blend of contemporary photo-realism and a heavy dose of Romantic aesthetics from the masters, including Eugene Von Guerard and Nicholas Chevalier. In her recent Apparitions, Welch projected circular fragments of Australian Romantic paintings onto selected terrain. Here, Welch plays with a layered view of landscape; through historic images and today’s reality. Welch explains: ‘I deliberately do not use Photoshop, this results in a truly incongruous image that records in real time both past and present ideologies.’ Her cinematographic photo-works are made with patience, through long shoots using cranes, generators, spotlights and projectors, all taken to a chosen location where Welch camps out for the optimum light and ambience. She explains that; ‘through the placement of specific historical objects into the landscape and by throwing projections onto the terrain I aim to illuminate representations of Australia from the past by bringing them into the present.’
In the early nineteenth century, Australian painters, notably the impressionist painters of the Heidelberg School, intended to break with the European Enlightenment lens through which the unique Australian landscape was being depicted by the Romantics. Welch, creates contemporary works in much the same vein, she aims to break the European sensibility, as seen in work of William Piguenit and John Skinner Prout, in the celebration of the Australian landscape. She reveals the haunting cultural history embedded in our landscapes and the idealism with which many have come to experience the land since colonisation.
Welch described her first experience of Paddington at 16, when she and a friend came to Sydney for a COFA summer school photography program. She remembers The Arts Hotel on Oxford Street, the fashion shops, cafes, Roslyn Oxley Gallery and the ACP as ‘a baptism by fire for us country girls.’
I asked Welch about her experience at the University of NSW Art and Design, Welch is studying part-time, still living in Bathurst. She was very positive about the support she has received and the connections she has made: she describes how much she enjoyed the exposure to other practitioners’ work in the research phase of her own studies.
In 2011 Welch was the recipient of the NAVA Windmill Trust Scholarship. Her work is held in the collections of Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, the Canberra School of Art Collection, ANU, and the National Library of Australia. She is currently preparing her next project ‘Eastern Interior: explorations from Bathurst to Albury,’ in which the artist will follow the early nineteenth century exploration trails of Thomas Mitchell. Welch has chosen this, the Bicentennial year of the settlement of Bathurst to create her own media installations in significant locations and landmarks. The body of work will be exhibited at the Brenda May Gallery in Sydney and the renamed Murray Art Museum Albury at the end of the year.
Nicole Welch is represented by Brenda May Gallery
This post is part of the Art Month Event Creative Paddington taking place on March 7th in conjunction with Metro Screen and UNSW Art & Design.
Image: courtesy and © Nicole Welch, Apparitions #4 - Projection -The Upper Nepean, 1889, WC Piguenit pigment ink, facemounted, 2014.