What began as Nic Joly's hobby has transformed into a passion for sculpting minute depictions of everyday life. The British artist's 3D wall sculptures tackle topics like love, sex, mental health and war in a touching and humorous way.
In 2024, we will be celebrating Nic Joly’s tenth anniversary with Castle Fine Art and remembering the intricate details tell stories of moments lived, emotions felt, and a journey embarked upon. As Nic reflects on the last decade and his past creations, the spirit of experimentation and the passion for self-expression is a reminder that Nic's artwork is an extension of him and the thoughtful, considered miniature works he creates. The most recent collection, The Next Chapter, references Nic’s evolving creative journey with his progressive techniques, unexplored themes, and sentiments yet to be unravelled and miniaturised. With renewed determination, Nic is ready to embark on The Next Chapter of his artistic journey.
Nic's artistic career was born in a stained glass and metal workshop. Inspired by the European painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, the former furniture designer explored his own unique style and began to create his tiny figurines. Each one is made from wire, paper and clay in his Hampshire studio, with Nic recently turning his hand to LED technology and 3D printing. A wizard of mediums, he has experimented with everything from Japanese inks to toilet roll, acrylics, soil and glitter to bring his miniature scenes to life.
Interspersing autobiographical elements with wry observations and a healthy dose of swear words, the sculptor's limited edition and original sculptures expose taboos to get to the truth of how we really feel. Humorous depictions of the vices of the modern world are combined with touching explorations of subjects such as mental health and war. To date, he has raised over £80,000 for The Royal British Legion through the sale of his ‘Never Forgotten’ sculpture, which commemorates the fallen soldiers of World War One.
His 65 Weeks collection reveals his thoughts, observations and emotions following the announcement of the UK COVID-19 lockdown. They are both humorous – including a raunchy sex scene and the frenzy of panic-buying toilet roll – and poignant, exploring Nic’s struggle with depression and the love he feels for his wife and children. He says: “This is the most ambitious release I’ve ever done and also the most personal collection I’ve ever created. I wanted to do something hopeful."
Released in October 2021, his #365 series includes a party-themed artwork with customisable acrylic letters that can be mixed and matched to create a truly unique piece. Nic says: "You can choose how you want the piece to look, and I will make it for you and only you. Each artwork is completely unique. I can’t wait to see all of the different ways you think of!"
Nic's Spring 2022 collection explores the different paths that love can take; be it friendship, family or romance. Showing that love comes in all shapes and forms, the two works take inspiration from the duality of the Ace of Spades card, and the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet. Unique details include a sustainably sourced freshwater pearl and earth from the streets of Rome.
Nic's 2023 collection, Hands On, is deeply a personal one, and one that takes his art in a new direction. Though Nic’s heart is still with those ‘little people’, he has been secretly working on a private passion project since 1997, and he’s now ready to reveal it to the world. The Hands On collection has been named in honour of his roots from his former life as a carpenter and In many ways, this work is Nic revisiting and reflecting on his former self and bringing the experience and skills of those early years into the present. Showcasing both original wall-hanging and freestanding sculptures, Nic has used an ink stamp of his own hand throughout the series alongside a striking colour palette, polished bronze sculptures and carved 17th century wood.
Situated in the leafy suburbs of Hampshire, Nic carves his figures as originals in wire and plaster before being cast in solid bronze using the lost-wax process. Also known as cire perdue, this is a method of metal casting whereby a molten metal is poured into a mould that has been created with a wax model. Once the mould is created, the wax model is melted and drained away.
When dry, they are sanded down (either with a belt sander or a teeny-tiny strip of sandpaper) and cleaned before being hand-painted. The scaffolding is brazed with a blowtorch to create texture and a natural colour definition before being cut out of the thin plywood. Once Nic has all of the necessary parts, he can begin the painstaking construction, which can include installing anything from LED lights to replica mobile phones.
For his 65 Weeks collection, Nic experimented with Japanese inks and glitter to capture his tumultuous emotions and wry observations following Boris Johnson's announcement of a UK COVID-19 lockdown. Describing the series as his "most personal" collection yet, he adds: "When we all woke up on 23rd March 2020, none of us could really understand how our whole world was about to change forever. I had time to think, to grow what I believed in, and to look at ideas I had never had the time to look at before."
His #365 release saw him fashion tiny disco balls from polysterene and plaster; each one was dipped and primed five times before it was covered in glitter and lacquered. Every egg was bleached before he pierced it with an electric drill, removing fragments with a pair of tweezers. The words 'We are all fragile' were printed onto water transfer paper and applied to the egg before it was dried so Nic could paint over the words by hand, while the customisable mirrored acrylic letters were designed by Nic and are cut with a laser cutter before being hand-polished.
Taking a turn in direction, Nic's Hands On collection uses an ink stamp of his own miniaturised hand to create mazes, trees, waves and even a picture of our planet. Nic has a specialist understanding of woodworking, joinery and carving, which he has utilised to great effect in this new collection. Utilising a contemporary colour palette inspired and complimented by the natural hues Nic has used throughout the body of work, the materials and textures have been carefully considered throughout the collection. The simple and striking nature of the pieces is contrasted by the highly polished bronze figures meticulously positioned and interacting with the 2D elements of the work.
The latest chapter in Nic Joly's visual narrative, aptly titled The Writing's On The Wall, harnesses the public candour of street art within the refinement and safe space of art.
In Life’s a Carnival collection themes of love, laughter and curiosity all bubble to the surface, channelled through showstopping technology.
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