Artist Interviews 2023 | Nadine Schmoll

/ / Artist Interviews 2023

We Asked Nadine Schmoll 11 Interesting Questions About Herself.

What was the inspiration behind your piece for SWELL Sculpture Festival 2023?

Through my artwork, I wanted to celebrate the beauty of corals, but also to engage people on coral bleaching and the role which the coral’s symbiotic algae plays in ensuring its survival. My hope is that people will consider how we as humans can create more symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with the world around us, just as corals and myriad other creatures do naturally as a matter of survival.

I’ve been lucky to spend time living and working on the Great Barrier Reef. Previously as a tour guide on Lady Elliot Island, sharing the beauty of the reef and its inhabitants with the public instilled in me a love and curiosity for the wonders of our natural world.

My spare time on the island was spent researching and observing what I experienced when walking, swimming or diving, and I came to love corals in particular. Although they are very simple creatures related to jellyfish, coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on our planet and play an important role in providing shelter and protection to countless other species.

Is sustainability important for you and your work?

Sustainability is at the heart of my arts practice. It informs my approach to design, to materials, and to process. I think about my choice of materials, in this case collecting and reusing waste plastic bottles and tennis ball canisters, and applying algae as a natural pigment to add colour. I think about the artmaking process and how I can minimise the waste created, either by recycling or reusing offcuts. Also important is the lifecycle of the work, which is designed to be deconstructed and reused for other projects following its display.

And finally by collaborating with the community I was able to share my passion for sustainability with others and the project became larger than just me. One thousand coral sculptures represent the countless people who gave their time to bring the project to fruition. We may feel that as individuals our actions to help the environment are just a drop in the ocean, but these actions are cumulative and I couldn’t have made this work without everyone who helped along the way.

What goes in the bowl first… milk or cereal?

Cereal! I need to know how big my appetite is that day, so I have enough milk to make the cereal go slightly soggy.

When is your favourite time of the day to create art?

I am definitely a morning person, that’s when I do my best thinking work and get things done. The afternoons are good for when I have a project already on the go, and I can zone out and let my mind run free while my hands are busy.

Cold or warm weather and why?

Definitely warm weather. The hotter the better! Although I was born in Germany, I’ve become so acclimated to the tropical heat in Brisbane. I’d rather sweat than freeze. Plus summer food is more delicious with all the smoothies, salads and ice cream!

What does it mean to you to be a featured artist in SWELL Sculpture Festival?

As an emerging artist, I really value the opportunity to be part of SWELL, to test my limitations and challenge myself in a supportive environment. Also getting feedback from SWELL visitors, volunteers and staff on my work is very motivating and reminds me to reflect on my journey and how far I’ve come.

What is your easy-to-watch movie?

For something whimsical and creative I like Hayao Miyazaki’s films like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. But sometimes I’m in the mood for a little mindless action such as Terminator or Indiana Jones.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during the creation of your artwork?

I set myself a big challenge with the number of sculptures to make, and sometimes the scale of the project felt overwhelming. But breaking things down into bite size chunks and chipping away at it regularly made it more practical to achieve and helped to reduce my anxiety.

If you are having a ‘cuppa’ is it tea or coffee?

I actually love drinking water but if a warm drink is called for I’ll choose a cup of rooibos tea.

What is the best compliment for an artist to receive?

“WOW! That’s awesome”, said by a child or group of children.

If animals could talk, which one would you want to talk to?

Probably my cat, to see if she really does think that humans exist to serve her.