I was born and raised in a small town called Great Harwood in Lancashire, England. Ever since i was a little girl i have been obsessed with the beauty of nature and the circle of life and death.
My fondest memories from a child are of sitting in my grandmother’s garden eating fallen Victoria plums from plum tree, collecting daisies and looking for ladybirds.
I loved going to my grandmas as a child. She used to let me use the recycling waste to make into art such as bug houses, head gear, hot air balloons for spiders... She seemed to really be thrilled by my creative imagination, and i guess its that sort of magikal spark that has carried on through to my adult life. Only in adult life things get a bit more serious with bills to pay and what not !
As i have gotten older i realised that to survive in this world i needed to find a way to make end’s meet without sacrificing my soul in a dead end job.
I decided to pursue my art. (best idea i have ever had) I gained a 2.1 BA HONS degree in fine art at Blackburn College, My degree show included paintings, installation and very shoddy taxidermy (i was still learning it at that point),
shortly after gaining my degree i went travelling to India for 3 months, which inspired me to become my own boss as a self employed artist. I learnt the ins and outs of this for 3 years.
After that I ran my own physical pop up shop in Blackburn as part of an art council funded scheme backed by Wayne Hemingway for half a year, called Nicola Hebson’s Curiosity Shop, but decided to give the shop up so i could to go travelling back to India. I am good at being an artist, but not a shop keeper!! i saw the whole thing as some sort of comedic art project in itself and it was documented on the TV show ''All creatures great and stuffed''. Watch it if you can, its hilarious. The shop was always more of a concept installation in my mind, (more on that in another blog post)
I've always been a gypsy at heart (and it’s even in my blood somewhere down the line ! On one side of my family my great grandfather was an opera singing gypsy, and on the other side of the family my grandfather was a leather worker ) Now i continue to create art in the form of taxidermy, jewellery and paintings, which i sell/exhibit online and at various festivals and craft fairs. I make taxidermy from roadkill animals i find lying on the road already dead, i recycle them and give them a whole new lease of life ! I also taxidermy deceased pets (with pet owners permission first!)
No sentient being is ever harmed for the purpose of my art.
Most of the materials i use in my work is recycled or up cycled. I find insects that are already dead and turn them into curious works of art in the form of jewellery. Its wearable art! my jewellery line is called ''dead good jewellery''.
I still sometimes use the name Nicola Hebson's curiosity shop , but now i'm more of a travelling pop up shop!
I have gained international recognition with my work and sold items all over the world. I started out with nothing but a big imagination and a love of nature, and the gifts that universe have given to me.
I have loved nature, animals, art and the macabre ever since being very young and i have always pursued what i love to do. I dont mind gettings my hands dirty and i have a keen eye for some curious detail!
When i was little i wanted to either be a vet or an artist. (now im both? ;)
Many people ask me ''how did you get into taxidermy?'' Well the truth is im not too sure at all. I was studying my degree and whilst studying i used to collect dead things i came across, wanting to use them in still life's for painting from observation. Eventually i came across roadkill mostly when cycling around, and i started to research through old taxidermy books wanting to find a way to preserve the outer shell of the dead animal, and i decided to give it a go. After 4 hard years of practice i got to where i am today. Anyone can stuff an animal, but it takes skill to make it look visually incredible, be it life like or anthropomorphic. I have still a lot to learn as taxidermy is an endless journey of learning how to perfect the art of it. I can honestly say i have learnt from my mistakes many times, a few of them ending in injuries, tick bites and a house full of maggots and flies. Its gruesome and dirty work, especially when you accidentally puncture the internal digestive sack , or approach anal scent glands, but in the end it is a cathartic experience that can be quite addictive to do. Making art that looks so alive from something so very dead, makes one realise the fragility of the circle of life.