Introducing Coalesce Artists: Nicola Anthony

access_time 5 minutes
person by Aisling Leen
create 12 January 2021

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the First Fortnight Festival, First Fortnight and Presentation Arts Centre are hosting a unique retrospective exhibition, Coalesce, featuring the work of eleven internationally renowned artists who have previously contributed to the First Fortnight Festival. Nicola Anthony is one of these artists.


We caught up with Nicola, before the festival, to chat about her work and how art relates to mental health for her.


Nicola is a metal sculptor working from her art studio in Dublin. She focuses her research on unspoken stories and experiences, hidden memories, and complex life stories. Her art aims to give glimpses into the effects of displacement, migration, and difficult moments that we can all experience as human beings, but don't often talk openly about. 


Nicola was invited to be part of the festival last year because of how strongly her work connects with the festival's themes: In particular mental health has been a recurring and very important topic for her because her work tells the life stories of people who have made incredible and challenging journeys, both mentally and physically. She was commissioned by First Fortnight in Jan 2020 to expand her research within isolated local communities and create a solo exhibition addressing the topic of isolation & loneliness. She says it's even more meaningful to be invited back for 2021!


“This year more than ever, is a time when probably every human being on Earth has experienced struggles with their mental health. Hearts, minds and souls everywhere have had to overcome so much.” Last year Nicola made a drawing for First Fortnight called overwhelm. Little did she know how universal the themes of isolation and overwhelm would become in the months following. “Right now is an important time to create a safe way to talk openly about our individual experiences, and this is what the festival does so well: helps people to find solace in the fact that we are all human, we all struggle from time to time, and we are not alone.”


When asked why she thinks art and mental health are so important, Nicola responded, “Art is one of those wonderful, freeing things which can help us to understand ourselves and other people more. This year it has been helping us to escape and have an adventure even whilst in lock-down, and it has been bringing communities and people together for centuries. Mental health is a topic which still needs more voices talking about it, to bring deeper understanding, more acceptance and compassion. If my art can spark that conversation, help someone to recognise their own struggle, or enable them to identify someone who needs help, then I think that is incredibly valuable.”

More information on Coalesce can be found here.

Featured image: Self Isolation - Nicola Anthony, 2020

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