For many, the events of last year sparked fear and caution when it came to business. But for mother-of-three Nicola Mammarella, the downtime imposed by the pandemic lockdown saw her leave a job of 12 years in pursuit of an artistic career she had only ever dreamed of.
“With life you get caught up and you don’t think about where you’re going and what you want to do,” Nicola said. “When time slowed down a little, as it did in COVID, it encourages you to look introspectively. I think 2020 gave me that feeling that life is short and things happen that are out of your control.”
“When time slowed down a little, as it did in COVID, it encourages you to look introspectively"
Previously an education support officer at Myuna Farm, Nicola, has now launched her online business, Nicola Sue Art, from her home in Torwood, West Gippsland. A Visual Arts graduate of Chisholm TAFE, she offers original artwork, high-quality prints and unique artwork cushions.
During the lockdowns, Nicola’s work at Myuna Farm in Doveton, shifted focus from public engagement to the physical chores of caring for the animals and property. The change allowed her the headspace to seriously consider an artistic future.
“I came to know what I wanted to do,” Nicola said. “I’d been working on a lot of projects during 2020 and really defined my style. I became aware of what my strengths were. By the end of the year, when I resigned, I’d thought it over for eight to nine months, so by the time I got there it was cathartic.”
Nicola admits the brave move did not come without challenges. Technology, she confesses, is not her friend.
“That side for me really brought me out of my comfort zone and challenged me on a lot of levels,” she said. “It’s something I’m working through. The art, that was an innate skill I had. Since I was two years old, I can remember holding a paintbrush in my hand.”
“The art, that was an innate skill I had. Since I was two years old, I can remember holding a paintbrush in my hand"
Nicola credits the rural flavour of her work to her semi-rural upbringing and current lifestyle in Torwood. Her work focuses on native florals and birds.
Looking forwards, Nicola hopes to continue building her business, combining it with the teaching skills of her previous career at Myuna Farm.
“I’m still a people person,’’ she said. “I get a lot of enjoyment out of teaching and being amongst people. When you look at the world the way it is now, it can do with more joy. I’d like to offer classes so people can not only enjoy my art but pursue their own art and be proud that they’ve created something..