Nick Hersey is a British born painter, printmaker and designer who has lived in London, Sao Paulo, Thailand and Shanghai and who now resides near Sheffield, UK. His predominantly figurative work explores the way in which codes, signs and visual narrative can illuminate the existential conundrum of the modern individual and express his struggle to find a voice in the wider context of contemporary society.
Nick studied Illustration at Kingston University, London before taking his skills into the world of graphic design, where he explored the power of images and typography for a variety of top clients for a prominent London Ad Agency. His first exhibition in 2000 – an installation of ‘live paintings’ in London’s Shoreditch, reflected this relationship between image and text, and attempted to expose the creative process behind an artistic theme.
In 2001 Nick moved with his family to Brazil and spent 4 years living in Sao Paulo. There he was able to focus on his painting, exploring through portraiture the struggle of the individual through initiatives, workshops and collaborative projects with young and disadvantaged people from the favelas around the city. This was a theme he continued to explore when he moved to Thailand in 2006, working with displaced Burmese migrants who had found refuge in neighbouring Thailand but who had been stripped of their identity – both legally and emotionally. His collaborative projects combined self-portraits and subjective paintings, exhibiting his own works alongside those of his subjects, as a way of acknowledging their status and enriching their own skills and sense of self.
In 2007 he moved to Shanghai, and after a series of self-initiated projects with cultural tribes such as professional Chinese skateboarders and banned local Punk bands, joined forces with the Island6 art collective – an international group of multidisciplinary artists based in the city who explored the clash of cultures and economies that was the new ‘Open-for-business China’. Once again Nicks work explored the role of the individual, and its struggle to find voice in among the clamour of mass population and the struggle for success and freedom. The rapid expansion of consumer values and their contrast with the inherent instinct of a communist society rang echoes with some of Nick’s earliest projects back in London in his youth, where his ideas around the society of the spectacle and the writings of Barthes found a new and relevant resonance.
On his return to England in 2010 he moved to the East Midlands, near Sheffield, and carried out a variety of projects, residencies and collaborations in such diverse environments as a disused chocolate factory, a low end shopping mall and the empty shells of condemned buildings habited by Urban-exploration gangs.