What inspired you to become an artist?
I have always been an artist, being an artist has helped me to survive and to make sense of the world. I remember in the chaos of growing up writing poems and drawing my life. I began as a painter and my paintings would take years, a real physical affair. I used all parts of my body and eventually felt compelled to climb inside of them and from there began to use my body as site and soon after began to find ways to use my body as material.
Why have you returned to live performance for this project?
It was never a conscious decision to leave performance behind, it just so happened that my circumstances led me down that path. I became a mother of 2 and then not long after I became a full time single mother (and had to adjust to the challenges and responsibilities of parenting alone and as a woman and a mother in a patriarchal society there are many!) Every piece of work that I have created over the last 10 years has been brought into the world as necessity for me, it is a release of emotion that I could not have articulated in any other way than using the visual language that I have established over the past decade.
Tell us about the show and what it is about for you.
Lost Bodies is an incredibly personal piece of work, it is about the stages and waves of grief and each time I create the work I go on an authentic journey with it. I have Alison Brierley and Sarah Glass as co-performers who are also journeying with me through our multi-layered collaboration. Alison is my spiritual guide; she prepares the space for transformation, leads me through it and then closes the portal. Sarah Glass and I designed and developed the sound score, which enables me to follow the correct path. Together we take our witnesses on a sensory adventure.
This piece is about the old me and the new me. It is about the journey that I went on to transition and to shed a skin. The journey into the new began with a project that I began in 2014 called Raising the Skirt (www.raisingtheskirt.com) and through this howling, naked, connecting with the earth and my subconscious, listening deeply to my intuition and making connections with some fierce and wonderful humans, the project ignited my fire again. It was in the second year of the project that I met Alison and we connected on a very deep level. Drumming is a huge element of transcendental ritual and the drum we use is hand made by Alison, and the vibrations and sound from the drum is another way to connect with the audience.
My work is always built on personal experience, this piece in particular is about a time my life where I felt very separate to my body, the piece is about finding my voice and connecting with my gut instincts – and in doing so I find my well buried wild. However, it is important to me that I do not open old wounds and so each piece is made for the eyes and the belly of the beholder, I hope that I offer enough layers in the work so that each person involved in the work has enough to want to investigate and go on the journey with me.
What do you hope the audience will experience during the performance?
I cannot expect nor demand that an audience take something away, or be specific about the kind of experience that one should have. However, if people find themselves feeling present, walk away with questions and/or are moved in some way then I am happy.
Why is it important for you to share this work?
This isn’t just a performance, this is a journey. I invite the audience to not only witness the transformation but to become part of it. This piece is for everyone that has ever felt so stripped of themselves, sitting inside their pupa, just waiting for that time to break out and show their wings.
This is a piece of work that says fuck you to the breakers, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
A thoroughly enjoyable interview with artist Nicola Hunter, ahead of her shows this coming weekend at ‘Theatre Bristol’. Wishing her all the best with her performances!