Nicole Durand is a French sculptress who has exhibited her works around the United States, France and Italy. With her glinting blue eyes and slightly dishevelled blonde hair she looks every inch the dreamy artist. Perched on her sofa at the Hilton suite it is hard to imagine this nymph-like French sculptress was the producer of the hefty sculptures that can be seen on the website: www.nicoledurand.com
However during our chat, Nicole radiates the sheer determination and strength of spirit that make it possible. Dressed in vibrant figure-sculpting jeans and halter-neck top she exudes passion about every subject we discuss, be it art, history, spirituality or her heritage. She was born in Lyon France. The daughter of an Italian mother and French father she keeps connection with both worlds as she has set up house in Menton a quaint Italian village on the border with France.
What inspires you to create these sculptures?
I don’t need to be inspired, you have to trust yourself to be an artist and use our senses to create from within. Every person is an artist but they simply don’t know it, we should use creativity for every endeavour in life.
In order to create beauty you need to have beauty inside of you. Ultimately you create what you are. Anybody can make a sculpture, but to make a masterpiece it’s something else.
How would you describe your work?
I like to look beyond the distinction between realism and abstraction. It’s a unique distinctive style I would call visionary realism
Where have you exhibited your work?
You can find my work among collections in France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, as well as major cities in the United States such as Los Angles, New York, and San Francisco. I’ve had major exhibitions in Beverly Hills with World Vision and the Association of Human Rights in Germany.
You are familiar with other media like painting yet it seems that you concentrate mainly on sculpting. What is it that attracts you to this art?
When you paint you have the brush which detaches you from the work that you are creating. Just like the different varieties of fruit, stones are all good and different. Sculpting is a more sensual experience since you get to use your hands. It allows you to transmit your energy, which flows through your body and is transmitted through your hands. That is why you always have to sculpt standing up.
Are there any particular requirements to be able to become a sculptor?
Ironically enough brutal force only leads to destruction. Even when you are working with stone you have to be delicate. With granite you have to be particularly careful as brute force will ruin your work. I like to draw a parallel between life and carving stone. Stone is like a human being in the sense that it needs beauty and inner spirit it has to become one with the earth and the sky. You need harmony, spirituality and physical strength beneath the force of the cosmos.
Is there any particular stone that you like?
I love alabaster because with the light it becomes alive. It’s amazing having this huge piece of stone, this rough material and then shaping it and polishing it to turn in into a work of art.
The female form features regularly in your art. Is feminine spirituality important to you?
I find that the ancient Italian and Greek art of sculpting stone provides the perfect palette for her sensuous image of woman’s enduring beauty and gives the message of unconditional love and unity always.
Do you always use stone for your sculptures?
I change and I evolve so I use different media. I have used bronze, alabaster and mixed materials. However I prefer stone because it is eternal. Stone is more permanent and if the sculpture is good enough it is in a sense immortal. Presently I am working with alabaster.
Have you had many different phases?
I noticed that I pass through different phases because as a person I change. The different phases that I go through are evoked by my emotions. Since art is an expression of one’s self, or an extension if you want it is only natural that my art and the media that I use will change.
What is your impression of Malta and its art scene? A good number of artists complain that not enough importance is given to art.
I love Malta, I truly do. I hope to have my sculptures here. If one day the spirit of my sculptures are here, they will contribute to the sense of harmony that already exists on this island.
I hope that Malta develops itself as an artistic centre because I think that the youths who come here from all over the world will be touched by Malta.
You also organise art classes at your studio in Italy. What kind of experience should one expect at these classes?
The natural high that we get from sculpting is incredible. We work in the brutal heat for six or eight hours, but we hardly notice the time passing because you get lost when you are creating. In the evening we all have dinner together. We are not at all tired - on the contrary we are full of spirit. The bond created within the group is incredible.
A village situated on the Italian Riviera is miles away from other places that you have lived in like Miami. Is there a particular reason that you chose to have your studio in Menton?
I find piece of mind in my studio in Menton. Being situated in a quiet village in the countryside is a whole new dimension. The environment that I work in is very important for me, especially when I conduct workshops.
I read that you are also involved in humanitarian work and are considered a world peace artist.
I am particularly interested in children. I am a member of the association of children’s rights. I am regularly involved in their activities especially artistic fundraising events.