Hidden Door

We Asked Rachel Nolan Some Q’s

Can you say a few words about what Hidden Door is about for you?

Good people, good energy, promoting all things creative. What is integral to your work? This could be anything from a piece of equipment to getting into the right mind-set. My cameras and lenses, 35mm film, travelling, the people I meet and everything I see.

What has been a formative experience for you and how has that influenced your work and path as an artist?

I spent five months in Budapest in 2011 to participate on the Erasmus Exchange Programme. I studied at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts for one semester. This period in my life really informed my creative practice. There was an amazing old camera shop where I bought my favourite 35mm SLR. Instead of making sculptures, I spent my days wandering around, searching for them. The objects that I found were documented photographically and when I returned to Edinburgh for my degree show year I focussed on their reconstruction. Also, I started to experiment heavily with film while working in the photo lab of Jessops. I had so much fun browsing through other people’s photos and developing film all day.

Is there an artist or any creative work that is reflected in your work?

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher. I love how obsessively repetitive their work is. Is there anyone specifically who has had an influence on your work? Not specifically. There are many artists that I admire. I love Surrealism and Situationism. I also think about Jean Baudrillard’s work a lot. Why have you chosen to work within your specific medium? I love making sculptures, but since graduating from art school I haven’t had the money for a studio. It’s easier and cheaper for me to take photos. I can’t wait to start making three-dimensional structures inspired from the shapes and forms in my Sky Objects… (I just need to find a space and some funding).

Do you believe that your childhood and upbringing has had an influence on your work?

If so, how? Everything you see and do will have an effect on your creative outlet. I don’t think that artists have that much control over their art, I think it’s an intuitive process, or compulsion that is driven consciously and unconsciously by every thing the artist has ever experienced. I had a very happy childhood and a really conventional middle-class upbringing. There was nothing unique or unusual about it. We went on holiday a lot… maybe that’s why I need to travel so much? My dad is a construction lawyer and I am fascinated with construction sites… things like that seem to rub off subconsciously. I take photos because it keeps me sane, it’s a way to focus my thoughts and energy and explore all the things around me that don’t make any sense. No one else in my family does this. I was very close with my art teachers when I was in high school – they massively influenced my life.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I really love it when people ask to use my photos for their own creative projects. That’s a good feeling. I also really love it when people ask me to collaborate or exhibit with them. Nothing else stands out as much.

What do you personally like about your work?

I like that it’s difficult to tell exactly what my work is. Some of my photos look more like paintings or screen prints. I use a lot of out-of-date film and broken cameras, I love the colours.

What is the most important item in your studio?

I don’t have a studio! Unfortunately!

What is the starting point for a project? How do you find ideas for your art?

I like exploring. I like to find things and invent stories.

A speculative question, but whom, alive or dead, would you like to collaborate with, if anyone?

That’s a difficult question for me because there are so many people I would love to collaborate with and I am insanely indecisive. But ultimately… Italo Calvino. He has the wildest imagination.

Check out Rachel and her work from 27 May – 4 June 2016 at Hidden Door!
Returning to the amazing disused street lighting depot behind Kings Stables Road in Edinburgh. Click here for ticket info