The Fandangoe Kid on creativity as catharsis

Artist Annie Nicholson, aka The Fandangoe Kid, shares how grief has shaped her practice, and discusses the complexities of using creativity to work through trauma

A decade ago artist Annie Nicholson, who goes under the moniker The Fandangoe Kid, suffered an unimaginable loss of family members in an accident in New York. Left reeling, she put her plans for using her graphic design degree on hold and began working in sketchbooks as a way of processing her grief.

“I was always interested in making work around intimacy, the human condition and how we relate to each other, that has always been a big part of my work,” Nicholson told CR. “But then this horrifying loss derailed everything. Actually, I couldn’t make work at all publicly. I couldn’t show anything. I was filling sketchbooks at home, but I needed to keep my head above water for a couple of years.”

In her sketchbooks, Nicholson reflected on the sudden lack of dialogue with her mum and sister – people she’d regularly speak to about her work. “The dialogue you had with people you’re really close to suddenly becomes a monologue, and that was terrifying,” she remembers. “I was trying to think of ways to open that up. I was trying to maintain a dialogue, but never getting anything back. I was writing out what I might say in a family conversation, recording stuff as well and imagining what they’d say back – also for a bit of guidance.”

Top image: Towards a New Normal; Above: Baggage is Only Experience painting created by Nicholson