Injecting new life into discarded materials w/ Nikki Davidson-Bowman: Artist Spotlight
Nikki is a multi media artist and curator, whose practice is inspired by found ephemera, words and natural things. Creating new narratives, she takes these discarded materials on journeys to inject new life into them, developing intriguing artworks in the form of installations, interventions, sculptures, prints and poetry, about female stories of resilience.
Research and the process of making are fundamental to the work, where rules and repetition support obsessive techniques, allowing ideas to invade and evolve. Materials, collected over time, are explored, repurposed and sometimes destroyed as Nikki develops work about identity and rites of passage, entrenched in found stories and personal experiences, to reveal a disrupted or reimagined version of the truth.
Nikki reflects on the moments in the journey of life, when unexpected disruptions occur, exploring emotive topics such as infertility, grief, dementia, and hearing loss and uses her art practice to document these interruptions as a way of processing change in an attempt to understand life better. She brings to life stories filled with love and loss, where research and creativity are used to fill in the gaps left by the materials, weaving together a narrative of facts with fiction.
In 2020 my mother fell in her home, broke her arm and had to move in with us. Her condition deteriorated and I became the mother to my mother. After proactively pestering medical specialists for over a year, while my mother passively just let things be, a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease/ALS and cognitive dysfunction was made. Life changed beyond all recognition. As mother and daughter we had always had a strong nurturing link for each other. Through highs & lows we have always supported each. Two independent women, use to sharing days, or at most a week together at a time with clear boundaries, were suddenly thrown together indefinitely.
Our lives are now entwined so much that we’ve both lost where we came from. Physically together more than ever but mentally or internally, further apart. A grown up child and her mother. Mother and daughter. These are complex relationships. The role reversal. The co-dependency. The role of a primary carer and decision maker for someone that I had always turned to for support myself. It has highlighted how invisible carers are. Unseen by some but judged by others. Friend’s seldom can comprehend the red light, 24/7 nature of the role. Her friends’ see only a snapshot of what she has become. The health profession look only at one element of the disease. Reacting only to my requests for support. Nobody intervening proactively. The family carer. Giving unconditionally to another whilst eroding your sense of self. Grieving what your own life was or could be and what my mother has lost.
As an artist, time for myself has been almost none existent. To manage my mental health I forced myself back into my studio and started making small works in response to the situation.