ArtKeeper Checking Out: Nicholas Tossmann

ArtKeeper Checking Out: Nicholas Tossmann

The time has come for HOTA's ArtKeepers to check out.

Coming to HOTA, Nicholas Tossmann wanted to explore the ways we contemplate the existential nature of the question ‘why’ through 2D and sculptural works.

Read on to hear about his experience and learnings from his time at HOTA.

You know the drill. 10 words or less – sum up the experience. 

I’ve been ambitious, excited, challenged and rewarded throughout this residency.  

Where are you currently at with your project?  

My project has progressed in unexpected ways, which is to be expected when working experimentally, as I’m trying out new materials and methods of making. A common thread I’ve found in each of my current projects is the elongation of the word why, both in a physical and conceptual sense. This idea has felt very material, as it has been stretched, bled and distorted, opening up new ways to explore our perception of language and the meanings represented within it.  

My initial focus on making a larger scale sculptural work using the word ‘WHY’ diverted into experimenting with painting using hand-cut foam text stamps and experimenting with 3D printing. As the sculpture I had been planning was quite ambitious and required access to industrial fabrication processes, it became necessary for me to branch out into exploring other methods of making. This spawned lots of interesting ideas, including some more organic, embodied, and gestural ways of art-making.  

I have been enjoying employing a more bodily presence within my newly found painting process, something I was originally trying to achieve within my anthropomorphic text sculpture. 3D printing has offered a great alternative to experiment and play with more variations of the sculpture that I was working on at a smaller scale. Initially I viewed 3D printing as a tool for mocking up these planned sculptures, but unexpectedly, I have embraced the opportunity to make smaller text sculptures.  

Throughout the residency, I have also been collaborating with Brisbane-based artist Amelia McLeish to create a sound installation. Through the experimental process of making the sound installation we started to develop a live performance. This was initially intended to be exhibited as a pre-recorded installation, but shifting the sound beyond these original parameters opened up new ways to understand the idea. I can now see this work functioning successfully as both an installation and performance. Overall, I have been enriched by having the time to spend experimenting in the studio, allowing me to both be ambitious with my ideas and allow time to problem solve mistakes. 

Nicolas talking to students from Palm Beach Currumbin State High

Nicolas talking to students from Palm Beach Currumbin State High

What’s next for these works? 

All of these projects have been so expansive, I’m really excited to start applying these new methods I have learnt to other words and ideas, especially using multiple words together across these different mediums. I am still very interested in developing the sculpture on a larger scale, especially with the knowledge I have now. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for interesting opportunities that I think the sculptural work will suit. I’m aiming to exhibit some of the works I have made and will be on the lookout for additional call-outs and opportunities, as well as continuing to explore all the different relationships these works can have within my practice.  

If you could travel back in time to the start of your ArtKeeper residency, what advice would you give yourself? 

I think I would emphasise how important making mistakes are, they provide these unexpected opportunities to think of your work in a completely different way. This residency encouraged me to be more experimental and think more ambitiously about my work. I moved out of my comfort zone and tried things that I had never done before, and this created a lot of space for mistakes. While it can feel discouraging, I’m really intrigued by how those mistakes led to different ways of thinking and making. I’m really excited about how these ideas and methods of making will manifest within my practice in the future. 

I have never participated in a residency with this long of a timeline, and I don’t think I would have been so ambitious with some of my ideas if it wasn’t. I’m really excited about all the outcomes I have had and how they are going to manifest in my work in the future. 

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HOTA proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.