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  • intouch Magazine

Turning on the Creativity Tap

As a teenager, this New Lambton resident found solace in art. A shy girl, she unearthed a way to express herself, fit in and achieve good grades. Throughout her life, art has proven to be a good ally.


Last year, she decided to back herself, leave unsatisfying work and find a job that gave her space for creativity.

“This is the bravest move I have ever made. Finally, my creative juices started to flow again. Now I’m looking at my art as a part of my income or business,” Nicola said.

It has been a long road for Nicola, a journey that started with a homesick 13-year-old in a Zimbabwean boarding school, about a 12-hour drive from her Malawian home.

“It was an academic school and not my strength. I hit my stride, though, when the school’s new art block opened. I was in my element. It was fun, interesting, and I could get messy.”

The game-changer was a teacher coaching the right-handed Nicola to draw with her left hand.

“It clicked. I focused on shapes; my work started to look like people and places. I was proud of my artwork, which showed in increasingly good grades.”

Her art studies continued until Year 12, then stopped.

“My belief was I wouldn’t make money from art, and in general, art was a creative outlet or hobby. Underlying this was the conviction not to try; it was too hard for little reward.”

Following her family doctrine of attending university in the UK, Nicola did a 4-year Hospitality and Tourism degree in Oxford. Through university, she kept an art journal and made gifts. Yet, when she graduated, her creativity stopped upon starting work in Bristol, then Malawi.

In 2007, she moved to Australia, “chasing a boy”. It didn’t work out. Still, Nicola decided to stay. In Sydney, she rediscovered her artistic flair while making personalised gifts and jewellery.

“I was back in touch with art. It filled me with such happiness.”

With this joy came love and her husband, Ronnie. They moved to Cessnock, where Nicola was blessed with an art room. It was here she created her first commercial piece.

Helping to create a concierge desk in a vineyards’ hotel, Nicola was inspired to create a fun regional map. She worked about 65 hours a week across several jobs; she crafted the map in 10-minute grabs. So, it took about two years

to finish due to time, size and in-depth detail.

“People loved it! Some asked where they could find a copy. So, I printed and sold it at local markets and visitor centres. I covered my costs.”

Moving to Newcastle, Nicola worked in tourism. However, she ended up miserable and unable to do any artwork. Knowing she needed to find her joie de vivre, Nicola quit without another position.

“People thought I was crazy. Though I felt I would go mad staying. Within two weeks, I had a new job with good hours, space for my artwork and my creative juices returned.”

To keep herself in the artistic flow, last month Nicola started a 100-day challenge to post creativity every day on her Facebook page, Nicky’s Original Creations. Each day, she posts a creative activity.

Moving forward, Nicole wants to work in acrylic paints, crayons and pencils on one-off paintings, intricate drawings and unique maps.

“I love working one-on-one with people and being able to turn their vision into an artwork. I find so much joy in it! I wish to create pieces people want, not work that gets dusty in a shop or storeroom and not enjoyed.”

This dream is already coming to fruition through an abstract acrylic that was a wedding gift. From which the bride’s parents commissioned a similar piece in different sizes and colours.

Now, Nicola is working on another commissioned piece, a map of a person’s property, which will be used as a marketing and promotional tool.


Live Your List



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