ECC Student Craft/Design Award Profile: Nadine Smith

Author: Sian Van Dyk, Curator, Programmes
There are just under three weeks left before the entries for the ECC Student Craft/Design Awards close. For a bit more inspiration, check out what Nadine Smith, a 2006 recipient, has to say about how the award has affected her creative practice, what she has learnt along the way and what drives her.

What is it that you do as a creative person?

I make work for exhibition and commission on a part time basis. I also work three days a week as a school nurse, which helps fund my artistic addiction. I am always striving for a healthy balance that equally gives value to my partner, family and friends. I’m currently working in a shared studio space in an old travel doctor’s premises as part of Urban Dream Brokerage initiative: ‘Project #6 Occupation Artist’.

I work with materials from my immediate surroundings, scavenged, found or sourced from my day to day life. I generally create one off pieces that are part of a series, my work reflecting personal experience, societal concerns or whimsical playful thoughts.

Problem-solving is an important part of my working process, for example how best to reflect an idea, or solving a material dilemma. I tend to think widely about what I want to express; playing with materials, using digital imagery and looking widely at the world and other artists who share similar perspectives. Most recently I have made multi-media print works, small sculpture, objects and jewellery.

When did you receive your award?

I received a runner up award in my second year of undertaking the Bachelor of Applied Arts at at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

How did the Student Award help you as an artist?

Receiving the award made me think, “Hey, someone gets my work and what’s more connects with it”. Connecting with people through my art is part of what I strive for and it gave me the encouragement to keep making. Because my work was selected it got seen by a wider audience. The award gave me confidence in my ability to keep on developing my work. It made me work harder and not be afraid to enter my work into selected exhibitions.

Which factors or people have contributed to your success as an artist?

My tutors at Whitireia and the friends that I have gained from studying there continue to support and encourage me. I don’t think I’d be as courageous with my art today without the support and influence of the jewellery fraternity. I believe it’s important to nurture these relationships.

During my time as a practicing artist, I have realised that although I have high expectations which can stall my making, it’s important to start working with my materials, even if I don’t have any concrete ideas. Once my hands come into action the brain seems more inclined to co-operate and ideas start flowing.

Working in a studio situation is brilliant because it creates an environment where you are able to exchange ideas and get critical feedback. It has made me realise that I work better with other creative people rather than in isolation.

A lot of opportunities exist to put yourself and your work out there, and it’s a matter of grabbing them if you want your work to be noticed, even if you get rejected at first. I was honoured to have my graduating work collected by the James Wallace Arts Trust which encouraged me to enter into their annual award. I made it into their Salon de Refuse which for me was a big achievement.

Getting your work seen is also very important. A personal website is great for international exposure e.g. , as are other artist friendly sites where you can set up a profile of yourself and your work free of charge, e.g.

To learn more about the ECC Student Craft Design awards, click here.

Sian van Dyk, Curator - Programmes & Events


Add a Comment