Nicola Henley’s art is situated at a crossroads between fine art and craft, her pieces made by a combination of dying, painting with pigments, screen-printing onto cotton calico, and texturing, using hand and machine stitch.
“It has been hard to place my work within the sphere of contemporary art,” she admitted once in an interview with Textile Artist. “I sometimes show and sell my work alongside fine art paintings, while at other times it has been included as a craft. It doesn’t fit exactly into either of these illusory definitions—it just is what it is.”
What it is—is very much striking. Inspired by the dramatic seas and changing light of the Atlantic coast, as well as the sense of freedom of birds in flight, Henley’s work is representative – by its sheer size – of delicate birds in their wild natural environment and the contrast between intricate ornithological detail and the vast expanse of surrounding space.
Based in the West of Ireland, each piece begins by sketching and absorbing a place and its particular characteristics. “Birds are often a focal point but within every environment I’m looking at colour and dynamics in terms of movement within space,” she explains. “I draw to record what I see but also to try to capture the essence of the place and bird character and movement within a location, bringing out what is important to me.”
Follow her Instagram page for more.