It’s very much for me that inspiration comes in many forms and as the result of different prompts along the way – literature or music or architecture. Certain things will peak my interest and then I might work away from that.
- Nicholas Jones
Stepping in to the studio of artist Nicholas Jones in Melbourne’s historic Nicholas Building is a little like stepping back in time, and one gets the feeling that’s exactly the way he likes it. A ‘creative’ of stunning originality, Nicholas has made his name birthing beautiful sculptures fashioned from books: delicate, origami-like configurations; elaborate cut-outs; whimsical interpretations of page and word.
Nicholas: “I was doing a sculpture and fine arts degree at the VCA when, during the third year, I had a total artistic block. That’s when I started playing with books and that’s it really.”
That was 1997. All those years on and his studio is a treasure trove of old and second hand tomes. His latest exhibition focuses on the idea of imagined lands, the result of a fascination with maps and cartography fed by his viewing of one of the first Atlases ever published – a 16th century example of cartography he was lent access to by the State Library.
Nicholas: “There has always been an attraction to history and the evolution of information and how books are often rendered obsolete five or ten years after being published. Recently my interest has been focussed on the idea of an imagined land – Atlantis or Xanadu – those places where there is something unknown. I find that really enthralling.”
Fashion, too, has formed a part of his art by virtue of its importance to his sense of person, a trait he inherited from his always-elegant mother.
Nicholas: “Part of the work that I make is about collection and going to markets and finding certain things and that also happens with fashion, with finding something different. It ties in with that idea of presenting yourself, being a curator of style as well as a collector of objects.”
He expresses his love for the notion of a “uniform”, seen in his preference for boots and the moustache he has carried for 20 years. Not to mention his love of timeless fashions bought when the artistic wage was supplemented by a second career: a beautiful Lanvin shirt, a Balenciaga jumper, Pierre Hardy shoes.
Down and out is clearly not a style choice for this artist, clad as he is in a favoured pair of Crockett & Jones.
Nicholas: “My grandmother still wears high heels at 82.”
He smiles. Expect no less.
Nicholas Jones’ current exhibition, A Conspiracy of Cartographers, is on show at the State Library in the Dome Reading Room.