Nicole Jakins is a multidisciplinary artist living and working on her bush property in Glenwood, Queensland. She explores environmental concerns, drawing on the beauty and fragility of nature. Jakins’ artworks draw from decades of living, working and walking through bushland and national parks, and through observing these changing landscapes.
Jakins completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) at the University of Newcastle in 1998, majoring in sculpture. Since then, she has dedicated her career to the arts, as an artist, jeweller and arts-worker. As an arts-worker, Jakins was Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery Director (2003-2008), and Hervey Bay Regional Gallery Acting Coordinator (2019). Her jewellery is highly collectable and available in a range of museum and gallery shops across Australia.
Jakins has held several solo exhibitions in Queensland and New South Wales, and her work curated into many group exhibitions. She won the Du Rietz Art Prize (Sculpture, 2022), Bundaberg Art Prize (Sculpture, 2020), and Bundaberg Arts Festival Sculpture & Jewellery Acquisitive Award (2017). Jakins received three Regional Arts Development Fund grants, demonstrating her commitment to regional Australia. These include Fraser Coast Regional Council (2021), Cook Shire Council (2009) and the Stanthorpe Shire Council (2004).
My arts practice is informed by environmental concerns. These include the challenges of a changing climate, impacts of species displacement through urban sprawl, alongside the resilience and recovery of our native species after natural disasters such as bushfires and floods.
These explorations translate to the methods I use incorporating ochres, dyes and resins. Many of these materials are foraged from nature, and combined with discarded, recycled and remnant objects. The raw truth that these materials offer captivates me. They expose the connection between memories and place, or the history of their usage, neglect or abuse. These histories are evident in surface dents, scratches and scarring. If I incorporate new materials, I often scuff, hammer or mark the surface to create imperfections.
I enjoy transforming salvaged, remnant and discarded materials by stripping, cleaning and deconstructing. I then reconstruct these materials to reimagine them as botanical specimens or features within the landscape. This material ‘rebirth’ symbolises species regeneration and resilience, despite the challenges that our native flora and fauna face.
Fire, a reoccurring theme, is important as both an observation of environmental concerns and methods. I often use flame-treating, burn or smoking techniques to achieve earthy and often unpredictable surfaces. I use flame within metalsmithing soldering techniques, clay-form kiln-firing, as well as to produce handmade dyes and stains.
My current bird series combines stylised clay forms of Australian native birds with mixed native plants. I use handcrafted ochres on white clay to form the bodies of birds such as kookaburras, honeyeaters and lorikeets. Extending from these are delicate appendages of leaves, vines and flowers made of mixed materials in earthy palettes. This series looks to biodiversity, cycle of life, and the resilience of nature in the face of changing environments.