When I moved to London from Cornwall in 1998 it wasn't long before I found myself on the Thames foreshore which became a replacement beach. I originally started collecting pieces of pottery and glass, but I remember the excitement I felt when I found my first coin poking out from behind a rock. From that day on I became fascinated with the fragments of history to be found littered on the foreshore at low tide and the stories associated with them. What I most love is to find objects which I can link to a person from the past. The stories from the River Thames I have uncovered are a huge source of inspiration to me and it has made me realise that you never know how your own story might inspire someone in 200 years time. I continue to mudlark as often as time allows - researching my finds and giving some of them a new life and purpose in an artwork.
Nicola was Mudlark-in-Residence at our Foragers of the Foreshore exhibition at Bargehouse where she recreated her 'Tideline Art' studio in-situ, displaying her collection of messages in a bottle and creating an epic bird sculpture from foraged plastics.
As well as being a mudlark, Nicola is also a self-taught artist. Her work is inspired by found objects old and new (glass, metal, wood, pottery and plastic) which she picks up whilst mudlarking along the Thames foreshore. At low tide, many fragments of history are revealed along the banks of the river. Some of these pieces are hundreds of years old, and each has their own secret story. It’s the mystery behind these found objects that inspires Nicola. She loves to put forgotten, once loved, or discarded items back together, and give them a new purpose in a piece of art.
During her excursions along the river, Nicola often comes across the modern scourge of plastic waste. To highlight this ongoing problem, she displayed a sculpture created with plastic collected from the banks of the Thames over the last year. Organisations such as Thames21 are doing vital work to mobilise communities to clean up the river and raise awareness about increasing levels of plastic pollution.