Nicole is developing a site-specific live promenade performance using a cantata by Felix Mendelssohn as source text. An elegiac meditation on the waning of traditional print technologies and their displacement by digital media, Mendelssohngs creates analogies between this loss and transformation, and changes undergone by the cantata itself in its passage from secular to religious.
Untitled (Mendelssohngs), 2013
Graphite and carbon paper tracings with gouache on Arches – Ingres MBM 85gsm
Signed on verso
650 x 497mm
© British Library Board (RM9h6 and H-1096.F(2))
Y NOT I
Y not I, 2017
20 limited-edition screenprints on lightweight archival papers in a variety of colours and sizes, with graphite, coloured pencil, gouache and perforations, in leather case lined with velvet and memory foam.
Case measures 263 x 340 x 65mm
Photo: Matthew Booth
This limited-edition suite of screenprints is a close rendering of a trove of handwritten and typed poems, lyrics and other texts by the artist's late brother, Toby Polonsky. The case and prints will be installed in the Chapel, the House of St Barnabas, Soho, 1–3 March 2018. The launch event on Thursday 1 March will include the premiere of a specially commissioned acoustic setting of the texts.
Nicole would like to thank Ben Barter and Becky Hill of the University of the West of England for kindly supporting this project.
The House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek St Soho London W1D 4NQ
4 February–23 April 2017
Untitled (Zoo), 1999
Engraved laminate panels and box with debossed type and printed vinyl labels
Nicole has several pieces included in Public View, an exhibition of works by some of the artists who have shown at Bluecoat over the past 50 years. Her work was first presented in the gallery in New Contemporaries, 1986, and again in Second Wave, 1988. ’For over a century [Bluecoat] has helped launch many artists’ careers, initiated and hosted significant UK and international touring exhibitions, and been at the forefront of new developments in the visual arts, while nurturing the local artists’ community.’
Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX
25 August–30 October 2016
After Words I, 2016
Nicole’s After Words I has been selected for inclusion in this international print biennial. The distinguished jury comprised: Nancy Campbell (artist/writer, editor of Printmaking Today); Rachel Gladfelter (director, Pace Prints, New York); Gill Saunders (Head of Prints, Word & Image Department, Victoria & Albert Museum); Jo Stockham (Professor and Head of Print Programme, Royal College of Art).
neo:gallery23, The Market Place Shopping Centre Bolton BL1 2AL
30 March–1 May 2016
Ghost[ed.] is exhibited at Idea Store Canary Wharf in Spring 2016. This innovative boxed suite of limited-edition stone lithographs has contributions from eight artists, and was published in 2015. Contributors to Ghost[ed.] are Sue Baker Kenton, Gino Ballantyne, Jessie Brennan, Tim Brown, Hen Coleman, Nicole Polonsky, Edit Toaso and Caroline Whitehead. Ghost[ed.] was devised by Nicole with Sue Baker Kenton and the project to realise it was co-ordinated by them.
The Ghost[ed.] suite emerged over time: after the very first image, participants were invited to respond in turn to the ‘ghost‘ of the scheme that came immediately before theirs in the sequence. The ghost, or residual image, is usually discarded after editioning; in Ghost[ed.] it was printed together with the new 'key' image. Each finished lithograph comprises ghost and key images by two different artists. This layering of subject, motif and mark gives rise to surprising visual interplay within an intriguing and distinctive body of work.
Idea Store Canary Wharf is the fourth iteration of the exhibition: Ghost[ed.] was launched at Dean Clough, Halifax June–September 2015; it had its London premiere at Westland Place Studios, Shoreditch in October 2015; the suite was subsequently shown alongside other works by participating artists at Alfred East Gallery, Kettering Museum in January and February 2016. Ghost[ed.] is featured in the Summer 2015 issue of Printmaking Today.
Idea Store Canary Wharf, Churchill Place London E14 5RB
16–19 March 2016
7–15 April 2016
RCA SECRET 2016
Nicole has been invited to be part of RCA Secret, now in its 22nd year. ’The show of c. 2,000 original postcards is a rare and impressive opportunity for a range of internationally acclaimed artists, designers, alumni and up-and-coming graduates to exhibit in one space. Postcards are exclusively available at RCA Secret sales in London and Dubai. Each postcard is exhibited anonymously; the creator is only revealed once the card is bought. Proceeds from the cards, which are sold for £55 each, fund scholarships and bursaries for current RCA students.’
Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah; Upper Gulbenkian Gallery, Royal College of Art, Kensington SW7 2EU
1–23 February 2016
A NEW HOME
After Words I, 2016
Deboss and collage with screenprint and coloured pencil on Moulin du Gué
Signature, title and number in edition on verso
580 x 380mm
Edition of 20
Nicole is participating in this show with other members of East London Printmakers and invited guests. About the print: ‘After Words I re-presents an inscription and title page from a book the artist bought secondhand at a charity shop. There is pathos in the dissonance between optimistic dedication and where it was uncovered. By what fluctuating fortunes did it come to be there? Were its sentiments not reciprocated? Or did mortality intervene? What is the truth about love? Now incorporated into a print, this resonant legend continues to unfold.’ Nicole is indebted to Holly Birch at Animal Aid & Advice Bookshop, 203 Blackstock Road Highbury London N5 for helping her realise this project.
The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park Clinton Road E3 4QY
6 January–3 February 2016
This suite of eight limited-edition stone lithographs by eight artists was exhibited alongside other works by participating artists at Alfred East Gallery, Kettering Museum, Sheep Street Kettering Northamptonshire NN16 0AN
6 December 2015–10 January 2016
EKCO ART SALON
Nicole’s work has been selected by curator Roberto Ekholm for inclusion at the EKCO Art Salon. The show, which includes editioned and unique artefacts by 23 artists from the UK, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, can be viewed by appointment.
Nicole is 'In Conversation' with artist and printmaker Jo Gorner in the Winter Issue of Printmaking Today, published on 01 December.
23 November–7 December 2015
Nicole is one of six artists represented at the exhibition (Difficult) Women, curated by art historian Arlene Leis. Untitled (I Am Taking Up Valuable Space) is installed in the show, which is a partnership with ’Difficult Women in the Long Eighteenth Century: 1680-1830’, a conference hosted by the History Department, University of York.
Norman Rea Gallery, Derwent College, University of York, Heslington York YO10 5DD https://difficultwomenconference.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/difficult-women-art-installation/
15 November 2015
POETRY LIBRARY OPEN DAY
Nicole’s artist’s book 32xF was displayed at this event showcasing recent purchases made by the Poetry Library, which houses the Arts Council Poetry Collection.
Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX
1–4 October 2015
The London launch of this suite of eight limited-edition stone lithographs was held at Westland Place Studios, 3-11 Westland Place London N1 7LP
13 June–6 September 2015
The suite of eight limited-edition stone lithographs was launched at Dean Clough, Halifax West Yorkshire HX3 5AX
29 March–24 April 2015
In A Dlrow For Eht Taking Nicole offers a site-specific installation which responds to the domestic window as a liminal arena and space of encounter between the private and public realms. The artist is interested in this as a locale where gestures towards activism may be performed, and political affiliations, belief systems and cherished hobbyhorses voiced within the constraining parameters of the surrounding frame.
A Dlrow For Eht Taking includes a text that mines Nicole’s personal biography. This is the first time within her mature creative practice that the artist has produced an explicitly diaristic piece. Comprising lines of reverse, or mirror, writing inscribed in turn on the inside and outside of the window pane, the text reads correctly only when viewed line by line from opposite sides of the glass. This performative piece is only fully realised through the active participation of the viewer. By teasingly inviting and hampering the spectator’s engagement with the work, the artist seeks to convey her ambivalence towards self-revelation as source material and subject.
The Kitchen Window Gallery, 66 Juniper House, Pomeroy Street New Cross London SE14 5BY
30 November 2014–2 January 2015
Nicole will be participating in this group show at The Kitchen Window Gallery. The other exhibitors are Jessie Brennan, Daren Callow, Frog Morris, Susan Plover, Veronika Spierenburg and Jacquie Utley. Feast may be seen 24/7 from the public balcony outside the gallery in the window of 66 Juniper House Pomeroy Street New Cross London SE14 5BY http://thekitchenwindowgallery.blogspot.co.uk/
26–28 September 2014
THE LONDON ART BOOK FAIR
Nicole will be represented by Kaleid editions at the London Art Book Fair. This three-day event showcases 'the best in international contemporary art publishing' and will feature Nicole’s limited-edition artist’s book 32xF.
Whitechapel Art Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street London E1 7QX
16 September 2014
EAST LONDON PRINTMAKERS ANNUAL EXHIBITION
Nicole was privileged to deliver the encomium welcoming VIP Albert Irvin OBE, RA to the launch of East London Printmakers’ annual exhibition at the Embassy Tea Gallery, 195-205 Union Street London SE1 0LN
13 September 2014
TYPE > ARTY > TYPE
Nicole will be giving a talk at the V&A about the use of type within her creative practice. She is appearing as part of the London Design Festival as a guest of Studio Tuck-Tite ’Off the Press’. Nicole’s presentation will offer insights into carefully considered and sometimes wry works which demonstrate her enduring interest in the demotic as subject, and the deadpan as a vibrant form of visual expression.
V&A, Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL
Untitled (Ethics 20:13), 2013
Installation view, detail
19 July 2014
Nicole’s bookwork 32xF has been selected for KALEID 2014, a curated event showcasing ‘fifty of the best books by artists, galleries and small publishers based in Europe.’ The jury comprised David Senior, Bibliographer, MoMA Library, New York, USA; Elizabeth James, Senior Librarian, National Art Library, V&A Museum, London, UK; Sofie Dederen, Director, Frans Masereel Centrum, Kasterlee, Belgium. This free event is open to the public on Saturday 19 July 2014 at The Art Academy, Mermaid Court 156a Borough High Street London SE1 1HR.
19 April–18 June 2014
ORIEL DAVIES OPEN 2014
Nicole’s drawing Untitled (Mendelssohngs), 2013 has been selected for the Oriel Davies Open 2014. ‘The selectors [were] looking for the very best in a wide range of media and approaches across national and international contemporary art and craft practice today.’
Oriel Davies Gallery, The Park Newtown Powys Wales SY16 2NZ
Nicole has editioned her book, 32xF. It was conceived, designed, screenprinted and bound by hand by the artist.
This book uses Benesh Movement Notation to depict the 32 fouettés en tournant as they appear in the coda of the Act III pas de deux from Petipa’s Swan Lake. This feat of discipline and athleticism was first accomplished by Pierina Legnani, in 1892, and went on to become a mainstay of the classical ballet repertory.
The artist seeks to make analogies between the notation score and the practice of screenprinting. The score comprises perseverant motifs encoding ritualistic, repetitive actions. These are mirrored in the ritualistic, repetitive process by which the score was committed to paper. Fluoro-backed papers reference stage lighting, illuminating the printed subject. Taking the form of a flip book, 32xF unfolds, like dance itself, in time and space.
Benesh Movement Notation appears by kind permission of the Benesh Institute and the Royal Academy of Dance. This project was enabled and generously supported by the Institute’s director, Liz Cunliffe, to whom the artist is indebted.
32xF, 2014 (and details)
Variety of papers and card, including fluoro, screenprinted in acrylic ink; adhesive bookcloth; laser-cut adhesive vinyl
Signed and numbered in pencil
53 x 126 x 25mm
Edition of 50 and five artist's proofs
Nicole designed and made the holiday window decorations for Westland Coffee + Wine out of three sizes of takeaway cup. Would you like your festive wreath S/M or L? http://www.westlandcoffee.co.uk/
3–6 October 2013
Nicole will be participating in 7305 days, Westland Place Studios' 20th anniversary open studios.
NOW / THEN
Throughout 7305 Days, Nicole will perform now / then - 18 iterations of an exhibition spanning 20 years of her creative practice. At 30 minutes past each hour, Nicole will curate a new display of recent work (now: 2010–), alongside pieces from her personal archive (then: 1993–2009).
now / then will establish visual and other thematic dialogues between Nicole’s current and earlier output, and highlight motifs and preoccupations from the artist’s career to date.
24 June–13 July 2013
Nicole will be participating in an exhibition by members of East London Printmakers at Westminster Reference Library,
35 St. Martin's Street London WC2H 7HP
Nicole has completed her limited-edition suite of four Stationary prints.
‘Stationary began as an apparently contrary conceit: to use time-honoured printmaking methods to render printed and paper matter from a tradition of mass-production. This deliberately absurd scheme involves sedulous tasks undertaken in the service of objects that are readily available and cheap: the raffle ticket, luggage tag, record card and lined paper. The resulting limited-edition prints are not just a paean to everyday design and functionality; they are an elegiac rumination on fine art printmaking. Celebrating the slow and deliberate way in which marks emerge from my own hand, they are testaments to my intentions and the value of making.
‘Exploiting a homophone, the title Stationary makes reference to the subject matter itself and the still, austere qualities of the finished pieces.’
+/ – I, II AND III
Nicole has completed +/ – I, II and III, which emerged from an investigation into proofreading marks as subject. ’Proofreading marks are crucial to the development of printed matter, and yet are discarded in the process of producing it. As inky jottings on paper, the symbols identify errors in proof texts in single, manual, flourishes, which often inhabit the margins of the page.
‘In +/ – I place the symbols centre stage. They are no longer commenting on the subject – the proof text – but themselves become the subject. I opted for deliberately absurd, time-consuming, rituals with which to describe them: stitched and etched, they appear to achieve a kind of permanence.
‘There is, however, a tension between what they look like and what they mean. I chose for this series only those symbols that would result in no markmaking whatsoever: they instruct the typesetter to delete, remove extraneous marks, add space. Their physicality suggests an enduring quality that is denied by the meanings of the symbols themselves; the marks seem more substantial than their hand-rendered counterparts, but may not be. I see these works as modest and self effacing – an interrogation of presence and absence.’
21–26 June 2011
30 YEARS OF THE RUSKIN DEGREE SHOW
A degree show poster designed by Nicole will be included in this exhibition at Modern Art Oxford
25 June 2011
A3 HAND DRAWN & QUARTERED
Memorial Service for Nicole Lehan and Daniel Polonsky
3pm Saturday 25 June 2011 Carnivale 2 White Church Lane London E1 7QR
The original artwork for A3HD&Q 26 was left on the 18:47 New Cross Gate to Caterham train on Wednesday 11 May 2011 and remains lost. Sadly it is not possible to replicate it and so this 'corroboration' by Daniel Lehan and Nicole Polonsky can never be published. A memorial service to commemorate this loss will be held at the above date and time.
About the project:
The banal, inconsequential, partial and downright fake of the Twitter generation are celebrated in issue 26 of A3 Hand Drawn & Quartered.
The zine is produced and distributed by artist Daniel Lehan, in collaboration with a different artist each month. The new issue, launching in June, is a 'corroboration' with Nicole Polonsky, who shares Daniel’s interest in linguistic and conceptual playfulness.
Each side of HD&Q26 is given over to an invented character - Nicole Lehan and Daniel Polonsky - who is a mashup of the co-creators’ biographies, with fictional embellishments. Nicole Lehan’s tale is picked out in repressed, deceptively orderly, hand-scribed Helvetica; Daniel Polonsky’s is more rushed and urgent - and a tad more bonkers with it - and calls up collective memories of Protein Man-style signage.
In deadpan tones, we read that Nicole Lehan’s birth in 1959 was marked by local tribesmen with the gift of 24 chickens; by 1975 she was touring Europe in a school band; in an apparent downturn, 1991 saw her suffering a panic attack on a bus; she’s performing at Cabaret Voltaire in 2011, so things are looking up again. Daniel Polonsky, meanwhile, showed early promise in 1968 as winner of the Tufty Club colouring competition. Two years later his father began communicating with him in semaphore. He lost his virginity - a rather abject affair, one surmises - in 1976, and was chucked the next day. But then, he did keep his socks on...
This as-it-says-on-the-tin A3 hand-drawn publication appeals to both the nosy devourer of tittle-tattle, and the attention-deficit-disordered channel-hopper. Litho-printed in black and white, it can be picked up for free in London at:
Artwords Bookshop; Banner Repeater, Bookartbookshop, Beaconsfield, Camden Arts Centre, Donlon Books, Gasworks, ICA, The Montague Arms, the Nunnery, Peckham Space, South London Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, Wiebke Morgan and Shift.
A3HD&Q 26, 2011
Nicole has completed this suite of ten drawings using correction fluid on graph paper. In successive works, the artist depicts precise proportions - 10, 20, 30 per cent etc. - by superimposing lines of correction fluid over the appropriate numbers of grid lines. This orchestrated standoff between hand-drawn and machine-generated lines is intended teasingly to conjure a world in which 'wrongness' can be identified and precisely calibrated. But which is 'wrong' - the febrile, fluctuating, traces of the artist’s own hand or the detached precision of the printed graph beneath them?
The title, which references work by the same name by John Baldessari, may seem declamatory. For Nicole, these are not in fact polemical pieces; the drawings inhabit the very human terrain of nuance and uncertainty which is central to her practice.
Nicole would like to thank Paul Winterburn, Site Manager, Tachodisc Ltd, whose unstinting generosity with time and materials allowed her to realise this project.
28 August–3 November 2010
LINES OF DESIRE
Two drawings and a print by Nicole have been selected for
Lines of Desire, Oriel Davies Gallery, Powys, Wales
100 Per Cent Wrong I, 2010
Red ink on graph paper
Signed and dated on verso
558 x 762mm
100 Per Cent Wrong II, 2010
Correction fluid on graph paper
Signed and dated verso
558 x 762mm
’These works on paper reflect shared conceptual and formal preoccupations: notions of ’right’ and ’wrong’, compliance and resistance, are interrogated through materials and conventions of the classroom.
The drawings record a standoff between machine-generated grids and my own marks. Which ones are ’wrong’? The titles, though declamatory, are also ambiguous. These pieces celebrate lines that can be both deadpan and vibrant.’