40 weeks pregnant, I was strolling (or waddling..) through Avoca Beach Markets hoping and wishing that our little one would decide to arrive when I stumbled across a gorgeous stall full of Nicole's work. I'd always dreamt of a nursery full of Australiana touches - so the beautiful native flora and fauna immediately caught my eye. Up until this point, anything I'd purchased for the baby's room had been practical so selecting the framed Bream was very exciting!
Ziya did (eventually!) arrive and the art is now a special feature in his room. We love Nicole's work as it not only captures the beauty of Australian nature; but the intricate, scientific details.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and the path that led to your current artistic endeavours?
Picture making runs in my family; my grandparents on both sides were all painters, so I grew up surrounded by picture makers and drawers full of art supplies.
When I was young we spent each holiday break at my Grandma's place in the country where you really have to make your own fun! My brother and I were constantly exploring and making things. I'd ride my bike through the paddocks and the bush, finding beautiful spots to pull out my sketchbook or collect treasures - a.k.a. interesting leaves, rocks and skeletons - to take home and draw. Nothing much has changed there, ha!
When I finished school I studied Natural History Illustration, which really gave me a chance to develop my observation and technique, as well as give me some direction and discipline in what I already loved.
I worked for a while in bush regeneration, which is where I gained a lot of knowledge of indigenous flora, the fine balance of each species in relation to each other and also the manmade environment. As a result, I became even more interested to explore and celebrate its unique beauty through my work.
What I do now is a bit of a mixture of all of the above; the discipline of scientific illustration, where the focus is on communicating information down to the most intricate detail; and my more creative work, which uses a scientific technique and aesthetic to explore more broadly the world we live in and who we are as people.
What inspires you to create your art?
Watching a plant grow from a tiny seed. A single drop of water caught in a spider's web taking my breath away. Honest and deep conversations with friends. Watching the changing light transform the trees behind our house throughout the day. Seeing our wallaby friend with a joey peeping out of her pouch! Being in the ocean while the rain is falling softly around me. Trying to comprehend the grace of being alive. Feeling so full of everything joyful, sad and beautiful that I just need to do something.....
Where would we be likely to see your artwork?
Tommy's Cafe Gallery on the Gosford Waterfront, NSW; The Finders Keepers in Sydney and Melbourne; and Like Minds Cafe at Avoca, NSW. And the good old interwebs of course! - www.nicoleberlachillustration.com and Instagram.
Can you tell us one of your favourite artists?
John Wolseley. I love his way of seeming to collaborate with a landscape and the creatures that live within it. There is so much sweeping movement and energy that you take a gasp and a step back to appreciate it - but then there are the tiniest of details that draw you in really close again.
Describe your dream home and location.
I'm so thankful to say that it would be pretty similar to where I am right now. Nestled between the bush and the ocean with windows to catch the light and breeze from every direction, but enough walls to hang some art too! Not huge - just enough room for my drawing desk and my husband! Close enough to civilisation to be a part of the community, with a big enough table for feasting and laughing with people.
Do you have artwork displayed in your home? What kind?
We have a high rotation of art in our home. My newest favourite is a beautifully haunting painting by Pearl Beach artist Robyn Bellamy. I also have some work by locals Jessica Horsnell and Laura Taylor; ceramic work by Rick Hatch, Ellie Hannon, Clay Canoe and Aleida Pullar; and some beautiful glasswork by our sister, Amy, of Wood I Glass. Our own art and experiments are constantly popping up around the place, and of course there are always arrangements and collections from nature as well!
Name one item in your home that you could not do without.
I could probably live without it, but I do love a good cuppa while I work! Nice and strong with no milk thanks. It definitely tastes best in my favourite Rick Hatch tea cup too.
When you're not creating masterpieces, where would we find you?
I might be in the ocean or spending time with people I love. Maybe exploring the bush behind our house - I've been collecting and growing native seeds lately. I'm pretty chuffed to have recently discovered some free yoga classes in a park down the road from me too! Our faith is the compass of our life, and we're thankful to be a part of a really great church community. We've just hung a collaborative series of paintings there and I'm part of the team organising the annual community art show.
We have a little sailboat as well, so we love adventuring up the Hawkesbury River every now and then.