Hello, I’m super excited to be starting a series of artist spotlight articles. Each month I will be sharing a new artist that I find inspiring.
My first artist spotlight features artist Nicola Battilana of Pixie Hill Studio! Her 3D assemblage style artwork is as whimsical as it is varied. She creates anything from mini fairy houses, to fairy gardens, and gypsy caravans. Pixie Hill is located in Brighton, Ontario. I’m happy to be sharing an interview with Ms. Nicola, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about her creative process and inspiration.
I love all the enchanting creations at Pixie Hill studio. What are some of your main inspirations for creating?
Thanks a bunch! I’m inspired by just about everything. Fairy tales, lost buttons, mysterious trails in the snow, movies, books, people, the night sky, music… you name it! Our home is a big source of inspiration too. We have a crooked 100+ year old farmhouse on 2 hilly acres in a small town. There are trees, a stream, mushrooms, flowers, and magic everywhere. We’re not isolated (in fact we have very nice neighbors) but it was a big change from the city we moved from. When we first moved here there were so many things that seemed like absolute magic to me. Stars actually twinkled. Frogs listening to bedtime stories from second story windows. The end of the rainbow on our front lawn. It was, and remains, a great source of joy and inspiration.
I notice a lot of faerie, and fairy tale art in your studio. When did your interest in faerie begin and how do you feel it has influenced your art?
I don’t remember my faerie faith having a beginning to be honest. That’s not to say I have always been crazy about them. In fact, as a child, I didn’t have much to do with them at all. As an adult though it seemed no matter what I was learning about ,or exploring, they were there. They have been part of our lives for a long while now, even in the city we reserved a spot in our tiny garden for a thyme plant just for them. With our move to this particular place it’s sort of all come together and overflows, and spills on to everything, including my work. If I had ignored all that previous nudging from them, and hadn’t uncovered that belief, I definitely would not be creating the work I do. They play an essential role in my making.
You create such a variety of art. What have been some of your favorite projects to work on?
That is a difficult question because I think it’s the process that’s the enjoyable part, not necessarily the finished project. Different projects are rewarding and enjoyable for their own reasons. Working outside, setting up our ‘fairy tour’, it feels like you’ve put in a good hard day of work and that is physically rewarding. While I don’t do it often, painting slows me down and it’s quite meditative. It’s good for the soul. When I create miniature scenes my mind races with ideas and details, it’s thrilling! It’s a challenge to figure out how to make it all work but it’s rewarding to see my skills improve. And then there are the smaller projects, like vials of pixie dust and tea cup towns, and they have their own value. They keep the magic going, my fingers busy, and allow me to day dream while I work.
I notice you have open studio events. This sounds so fun. Please share a little bit about what goes on at these events. Are any coming up soon?
My “Open House” dates give people the opportunity to visit, have a chat, eat a cookie, look at my stuff, and maybe buy a little something to take home. Our big event is our annual 'fairy tour’ in July. People wander around the lawn to spy little houses, fairy picnics, little ladders leading up tree trunks, sleeping pixies. Last year we had a list of challenges for visitors to perform (stack rocks, blow bubbles) and it was a really great way to encourage simple joys. I have my fingers crossed for a second event in October… but that’s a super secret surprise ;) I also host workshops here for children and grown people. I have a few planned, including a couple this spring, and they’ll be posted on my site as soon as I get my schedule figured out.
Do you have a favorite fairy tale?
I generally like classic fairy tales that have a bit of a dark edge to them… but today I’ll say my favourite is the Elves and the Shoemaker.
Is there anything you’d like to mention or give a shout-out to?
lol I’m sure there’s someone or something I SHOULD mention but I haven’t finished my morning tea so my brain isn’t cooperating. Instead I’ll just say: Get excited! Like loads of stuff. Grab inspiration from where ever you can find it and run like heck!
To see more art by Ms. Nicola please visit Pixie Hill Studio or check out her facebook page to see her latest creations. There’s always something enchanting being made over at Pixie Hill Studio. I hope you enjoy her art as much as I do.