Nicola Toms: Charcoal, Clay and Bronze Drawings and Sculpture

18th February 2014

Exhibition Dates: March 23rd to April 5th 2014

This exhibition brings together the media of drawing and sculpture in a dramatic, dynamic combination.  Life-size charcoal drawings of thoroughbred horses, cattle and whippets look down on Nicola’s vigorously observed animal bronzes, prints and relief work. This is her first major exhibition since 2006 and shows a renewed dedication to her enduring love of the animal world.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in Zimbabwe, animals, in particular cattle were a part of Nicola’s daily life. ‘Big herds were always milling around, brought in for dipping, or branding.  We had horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks alongside the abundant wild life and an amazing selection of bird life’. Even though she has lived in London’s East End for 20 years, her abiding passion for animals remains. She remembers the dogs in the park –  not  the owners.  Her cottage on the Isle of Wight is close to the famous Brightstone Jersey herd, started in 1866 and descended from Queen Victoria’s herd at Osborne Castle; a subject that beckoned alongside the thoroughbred horses at the Coombelands yard near Pulborough

There is an immediacy in drawing missing in the careful planning and preparation needed for large sculpture which appeals to her and a direct connection between charcoal and clay as a medium, applied in layers and constantly rubbed back.  The works explore shape, depth and anatomy on a huge scale, especially the skeletal structure of the animals which feeds back into her three dimensional work.  The lino prints like the plaster reliefs are a new departure for Nicola, combining elements of both drawing and sculpture.

There is an honesty and a retained innocence about Nicola’s work which matches her candid and down-to-earth character.  Despite her immense knowledge of the subject she manages to treat each animal first and foremost as an individual, observed as much for its character as it’s physical characteristics.  A 16 year old Gloucester cow holds as much interest to her as a cheetah in flight or a thoroughbred race horse.  This characteristic of her work, together with her immense knowledge and instinctive understanding of animals make Nicola one of foremost exponents of this genre.

Nicola Toms studied graphic art in Harare before re-locating to London some 20 years ago. In addition to six major solo exhibitions in London she has exhibited widely with galleries in Britain, America, South Africa and New Zealand.  Her work is held in many private collections throughout the world. Nicola lives and works in London’s East End.