Nicola Culican, a Finalist of the "Show Your World" International Art Competition.
Nicola Culican's work centres around the theme of women, focusing on women in societies all over the world. Within this theme her work has taken different directions according to the different societies and cultures in which she finds herself.
Over the last decade Nicola has lived in both Africa and Asia and has taken the opportunity to travel extensively; looking for incredible, but often overlooked people to celebrate through her paintings.
During her time in Africa she looked at the role of woman within African society (particularly Botswana, where Nicola was living at the time). She was intrigued by the effect of the western world within their culture (the beauty pageants, the magazines, the desire for dieting) and later by the AIDS crisis that was escalating within the female population. Nicola wanted to celebrate the beauty of these women and their hardships and so she focused on painting portraits of ordinary women – the women that she saw every day in the markets, in the fields and in their homes.
Since then Nicola has ventured as far afield as the mountains of the Himalayas and the backstreets of Kathmandu; visiting people from the hill tribes of Burma through to the Berber people of Tunisia; from the steppes of Mongolia to the hilltop forts of Rajasthan.
She go out of her way to meet the women of these lands; women who she refers to as the ‘invisible women’ – women who lead hard lives – including, farmers, mothers and market vendors. Nicola's paintings aim to bring out the beauty of these women through colour, line and pattern. Each painting represents a chance encounter, a moment of meeting, a very personal encounter between herself and the woman.
The artist is intrigued by their faces and the stories they tell - the lines and wrinkles, the glint in their eye, their smile and their strength. These women are women who people pass everyday without a second glance.
Nicola's painting ‘Sulawesi Widow’ was taken from her time spent travelling through Indonesia. She travelled to the centre of Sulawesi, to the area of Tana Toraja, known for its intriguing funeral ceremonies, for which she had a chance to be invited. Amidst the slaughtering of buffalo and wild pigs, stood the widow who’s deceased husband was the reason behind this extraordinary display of ritual. As the whole village celebrated, she stood at times solemn, watching quietly from the side.
"Sulawesi", oil on canvas, 100 x 76cm