Nicola Wheston


Nicola Wheston was born in London in 1953. She studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing in England and later at the Nova Scotia School for Art and Design. She became an accomplished printer and established an artists’ atelier for for fine art printing in Nova Scotia. Nicola moved to Salt Spring in the late eighties and has been an active and highly regarded member of the very creative Salt Spring art scene.

The Duthie Gallery is pleased to be exhibiting Nicola’s paintings from her recent ‘Stuff’ series. These works boldly display the consumerist pathology of our time -the rampant acquisition and hoarding of things- and they certainly cut close to the bone.

Artist’s Statement (2015)

Stuff (The need to consume)

“Stuff” is a series of paintings about the accumulation of material things and what it means to be a “consumer”.

As a British-born artist, I began visiting London’s National Gallery at the age of twelve to endlessly look at paintings and sculptures. I was fascinated by the people, objects and surroundings that were painted throughout history. For every era in history, a wide variety of both treasures and objects from daily life were depicted, from incredible metal armour to lush fabrics, glass, silver, gold and wood. One of my favourite paintings was “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein, which contains a still-life of numerous meticulously-rendered objects. I still have no idea what most of the objects were in that painting, but I was fascinated by their inclusion. 

Today, plastic is the main material that surrounds us. We are surrounded by plastic objects, from Squeeze bottles to electronics, and none of it is made to last a lifetime — much less for generations. The people who populate this world are conceived as “consumers” by big business and the media.  We’re bombarded by the endless message to consume, to constantly acquire and need things. The more money we have, the more we desire more and more things — always bigger, better, faster, newer or more stylish things — including cars, houses, furniture, clothes and toys. 

As a consumer society, we have simultaneously developed the pathology of hoarding. In my own life, I’ve had the experience of sorting and disposing of several estates, so have seen up close the end result of a many lifetimes spent consuming. Conversely, I’ve had the privilege of living in a country where people have nothing. Between the two extremes, I’ve come to understand how few material things we really need to be happy and to live a good life.

With the paintings in “Stuff”, I wish to reveal some of this pathology, including the sadness, the need to fill the empty places within ourselves, and the shocking reality of having so much “stuff”. I have painted the images in the formal manner of historical paintings. Each was created directly from life, using a model or myself as the model, surrounded by our clutter and depicting relationships with our “stuff”. The scenes have either been staged or painted on location. Many paintings include pets, an extension of our consuming. Because the paintings are life-size, the impact of all that “stuff” is very much on a human scale.


2014 Loft Galeria, Puerto Vallarta, Jelisco, Mexico
2010 Duthie Gallery, Salt Spring Island, B.C.
2010 ArtSpring, Salt Spring Island B.C.
2009 The Loft Galeria, Puerto Vallarta, Jelisco, Mexico
2008 Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
2005 Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
2003 Winchester, Galleries, Victoria, B.C.
2002 Working Forward, The Point Gallery, Salt Spring Island, B,C
2002 Sence of the ridiculous, The Festival of the arts, Surrey BC.
1997 Art in Bloom, The Spencer Gallery, The Greater Victoria Art Gallery, Victoria, B.C.
1995 Gulf Island Gallery Salt Spring Island, B.C.
1994 Naniamo Art Gallery, Naniamo, B.C.
1993 Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island, B.C.
1993 Queen Elizabeth Threatre Gallery, Vancouver, B,C,
1992 Vortex Gallery, Salt Spring Island, B.C.
1986 Mount St Vincent University, Halifax, N.S.
1986 St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N,S
1981 Paperworks Gallery, Vancouver, B.C
1979 Blackheath Art Gallery, London, England.
1978 Festival of Mind Body and Spirit, Earls Court, London, England.